“Talking Sailing” by Richard Crockett – issue 03

The America’s Cup continues to be the ‘hot’ topic of conversation for all the wrong reasons, but for me, the most newsworthy item was the incredible results our local South African team chalked up in the SB20 World Championships last week.

Thanks to all those people who have made the effort to send in comments about “Talking Sailing”. They are truly appreciated and very welcome.

SB20 World Championships
Yet another local bunch of sailors have hit the headlines with an awesome performance that put them on the Podium with a Bronze World Championship medal. They were none other than Roger Hudson, Asenathi Jim, Wadi Xamimpi and Sibu Sizatu.

Before heaping praise on these guys we need to put this result in perspective as Roger and Asenathi are always quite harsh on themselves as they have high standards they always aim towards.

Going into this event Roger and Asenathi were the defending world champions as they both crewed on the winning boat last year. In previous years the local team, with the inclusion of Dave Hudson in the campaign’s early years , were dominant players in the class with podium finishes on at least two occasions that I can recall. Even though 470 Olympic and Junior World Championships have seen them concentrate on the dinghy side, they pulled their boat out of mothballs and made the effort to compete, despite not having sailed their own boat for over a year.

The fact that this team from the Rainbow Nation won the last two races says much about their ability, as does the fact that they could bounce back from a ‘Black Flag’ penalty in race 2, and that in a 90 boat fleet.

What is interesting is that in the first 5 races the new World Champion beat them in all those races. In the next 5 races our team beat the world champion in every one of those final races. This showed the exceptional talent and experience these guys have, as well as the ability to make a boat go fast and in the right direction. Going into the last race our guys were second overall, and despite winning the final race they dropped from Silver to Bronze. This was due to the tightness of the competition, nothing else.

What happened in that final race is that the world champion incurred a penalty which saw him drop down the fleet from what was an almost unassailable lead, to winning the championship with just 3 points to spare, and at one stage looking as if the championship was beyond his grasp.

The second placed competitor did enough in the final race to finish on equal points with our team, but on count back his 3 wins were better than the South African’s 2 wins.

Roger and Asenathi just keep getting better and better, so watch this space.

Incidently South African Ian Ainslie finished 8th.

The crew under Hudson are incredibly lucky to have such a good mentor. Roger has not just taught them the finer points of yacht racing which has assisted them becoming world class sailors, but also life skills too. These are all confident young men who can hold their own amongst the best sailors in the world, both on and off the water.

I enjoyed the following from Roger which I received a few days before the regatta started: “I have to mention that on the drive down to Hyeres we found a Graceland CD in the van. The guys had never heard it before and when we played it they totally fell in love with the music. I told them the amazing and rather contentious story of how the album came to be and let’s say that Ladysmith Black Mambazo & Paul Simon have been on repeat in the van ever since and I don’t think much is going to change before the end of this trip!”

America’s Cup
It’s taken 10 races before there was any real excitement and close racing in the America’s Cup, unless the near capsize of the New Zealanders in race 8 falls into that category?

To me it does not, simply because I want to see New Zealand win overall, and that near capsize could well have put the Kiwi’s on the back foot, or out of the competition completely.

The way the incident was explained at the media conference was that a cam belt comes into play when the boat tacks – cracking the 40 metre high wingsail out of its old shape, and into the new, as the boat tacks. A lack of pressure means that the cam belt wouldn’t move quickly enough, and the wingsail retained its old shape triggering a capsize situation. Fortunately the grinders had the presence of mind to keep winding as the opposite hull towered above them – eventually getting enough pressure in to the system to grind the wingsail through to its new shape. As skipper Dean Barker explained, not a split second too soon!

While the impressive speeds of the boats, and the masterful way they are sailed, especially by the Kiwis, is awesome, the closeness of the competition was lacking, until race 10 of course where the lead changed 3 times on the windward leg, and the Kiwis were under the cosh for the first time.

With the 7 – 1 score line on points (in fact it is 7-3 on the water, but the Yanks have a 2 point penalty), one began to believe that the Kiwis were simply unbeatable, until Sir Ben Ainslie replaced John Kostecki on the American boat. This coupled with the ‘time out’ the Americans called after a severe clubbing, has seen the Americans regroup and come back faster, much faster in fact. Prior to this they were noticeably slower upwind, and almost the same equal downwind, but now they are certainly acting and sailing like defenders. But maybe it’s too little too late?

What is interesting is how Dean Barker and Ray Davies of Team New Zealand are now being rated as one of the best skipper/tactician combinations in world sailing. They have certainly done incredibly well so far.

I mentioned the speeds as when sailing upwards of 40 knots (40 knots = 74 km/h) their closing speeds are just mind-blowing, not to mention the rapid split second decisions that have to be made – and made correctly first time.

The big question though is just how many more races will it take Team New Zealand to notch up 2 more bullets for overall victory. With the Americans coming back strongly, we may yet have one heck of a duel on our hands over the next few days – or it could all be over tonight as two races are scheduled? The first race starts at approximately 22h00 local time (Tuesday 17 September).

If the Americans make a comeback and successfully defend the America’s Cup, theirs will be one of the biggest sporting comebacks in history. But they have 8 more races to win compared to just two the Kiwis have to win.

The Million Dollar question is quite simply, what will the Kiwis do with the event should they win? Will it stay in multihulls, or will they take it back to its monohull roots? I am sure Grant Dalton has the answers, but mum’s the word right now!

Like Sir Peter Blake, Grant Dalton the Managing Director of Team new Zealand, is an inspirational leader whom the entire team respect and look up to especially when the chips are down. When New Zealand won the America’s Cup for the first time Sir Peter was on board for every race bar one – and that was the race they lost. Likewise, Grant Dalton has not been aboard 2 of the three races the Kiwis have lost.

During the Blake era the great man always wore red socks – as did the entire New Zealand population as he felt those red socks brought the team luck. Will Dalton be wearing his red socks tonight? I know that I will be.

Racing can be viewed on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/americascup) Or if you have a tablet, via the America’s Cup App which can be downloaded free.

Regrettably DSTV and Supersport have ignored viewing this great sporting event in South Africa.

Volvo Ocean Race
In the first “Talking Sailing” there was a hint that the Volvo Ocean Race may well head back to Cape Town having originally been left off the route.

The good news is that this can now be confirmed – the Volvo Ocean Race is coming to Cape Town again and will take the place of Recife in Brazil.

The Volvo Ocean Race is celebrating its 40th birthday this year and Cape Town has played a prominent role in its success. The South African city first appeared on the Volvo Ocean Race route in 1973-74, in the inaugural edition of what was then the Whitbread. Its return means the race will once again stop at all five continents in 2014-15.

Councillor Grant Pascoe, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events & Marketing, said he was delighted the City of Cape Town and the V & A Waterfront would host the event once more.

“Not only does this race offer worldwide marketing exposure for Cape Town and raise the City and V & A Waterfront’s profile as a top leisure and events destination, it also provides a valuable boost for the many local industries through visitor and organiser spend,” he said.

The Cape Town stopover dates are:
Arrival end of October/early November 2014
In-Port Race on the weekend of November 15
Restart Wednesday, November 19

The fact that Cape Town was left off the original route is an indication that there are issues with this host city. Certainly last time round Cape Town did not score well in terms of volumes of people visiting the race area. I do hope that everyone involved this time make a special effort to attract people to the stopover and make it the public spectacle it is meant to be. A serious effort needs to be made here with initiatives aimed at the public being put in place long before the boats get here.

J22 Saga
The jiggery pokery mentioned in the last “Talking Sailing” simply will not go away. This despite the Class attempting to take the moral high ground and saying their actions are “good for the future of the class locally”. What rubbish.

What is interesting is that there well may be a series of appeals to come, and listening to the flawed manner in which the protests were handled, justice may yet prevail.

A major procedural error occurred in that the protest which caused the ruckus was lodged by the Class Technical Committee. In terms of the ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing, a boat can lodge a protest, as can a Race Committee and a Protest Committee – but NOT a class technical committee!

There are at least 5 other areas in terms of the protest which could be flawed, so it seems as if even basic protest procedures were not adhered to.

Is also apparent that the class and Race Committee erred by permitting boats to compete that were ineligible in terms of the Class Rules.

It’s now best to let this matter be heard by the Appeals Committee as the vociferous defence of the Class may well come back to bite some people!

Promoting Local Sailing
Many of the responses I have received to “Talking Sailing” have requested that this matter be addressed.

I have always been a firm believer in making it ‘easy for people to go sailing safely’, which is why I get very edgy when officialdom gets in the way of this.

Many a Club official too is guilty of being too officious, and this does not help our cause as it simply translates to fewer boats on the water, and the less said about government and quasi-government officials the better, although they are fully and directly responsible for the state of our sport.

This is such a broad topic that it will take a number of issues of “Talking Sailing” to address properly, so I will leave it to you, the reader, to let me have some of your thoughts to get the ball rolling. Send comments to editor@sailing.co.za

Crew’s Union
I thought that enough had been said about this, but a mail from Jeff Stephens who wrote the following: Regarding the crew’s union, I had to laugh when remembering an incident in the early ‘70s when, during the FD nationals on the Vaal dam, a frustrated crew exercised the only power that he had to tame his very argumentative skipper; While on a reach, with the spinnaker up, he simply unhooked from the trapeze and dived overboard, leaving the skipper to career downhill into a huge capsize. Good times!

That’s a great story Jeff, but something one can hardly do when 7 days out of Cape Town on the way to Rio!

Some Selected Responses to “Talking Sailing”
* If I can add my comments on the America’s Cup? The high speeds quickly pall and one looks for the tactics that used to be such a thrilling part of America’s Cup racing but they are simply not there as it is all over so quickly. I suggest that real sailors do what I did, go to YouTube and watch the racing at Valencia a few years ago! I have just watched the start and first beat of race 7 and wow was it close at times!

* I watched with great enthusiasm the America’s Cup which were held in 2007 /8 on DSTV – appreciated that. Now with the world’s oldest sporting trophy at stake you respond in a way that blows my mind. Its pathetic the way you handle the response – “we don’t have the rights to the AC” After a while I thought that I might see something on ESPN 230/231 DSTV – but I forgot , that is also gone from the bouquet. Supersport your service levels sucks – please pass this on to Koos Bekker, if you don’t mind. Awaiting some proper response. (Sent by a reader to Supersport & DSTV)

* One thing people can’t say about you is that you are a sissy, thank you for taking a stand when others won’t. KEEP IT UP!!!

* That J22 saga was just too ridiculous for words and sadly will result in some sailors finding something else to do. A great pity when viewed against the demise in interest in the sport, which if ever confirmation was needed is to be seen here in the Midlands, where yachting on Midmar Dam is now almost non existent. Can’t help feeling a more vibrant committee could change that somewhat

* Dis ‘n wonderlike bydrae tot die seilsport! Welkom en baie sterkte met die uitbou van hierdie forum.

The Bitter End
Mentioned above is the matter of Promoting Local Sailing and making it easy for people to go sailing. There are a number of events taking place over the coming long-weekend, but how’s this for overkill and making it difficult?

• One has to enter and pay an entry fee for the boat as well as every crew member
• One has to physically go to the Club and ‘Register’ at a specific time a day prior to the first race
• There is a pre-event compulsory skippers briefing
• There is a daily compulsory skippers briefing
• Handicaps are allocated at the sole discretion of the organising committee
• A full crew list is required with all crew having to sign the form

All this for what is nothing more than a Club event!

The ‘Bitter End’ is the inboard end of an anchor chain or rode. It is so called because in days of yore the chain would have been attached to the Bitts, though nowadays it would be fastened to an eyebolt in the chain locker – or at least it should be otherwise the chain or rode may all be lost overboard.

“Talking Sailing” is written by Richard Crockett, the Publisher & Editor of SAILING Magazine, South Africa’s monthly sailing mag.

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