The League for L26s

Look up – helmswoman! Hannah Fokkens snapped this image with their bright kite up during a training session with her varsity mates in the Durban Harbour. Fokkens helms the L26 yacht Spindrift and will be one of the many participants on the start line in the new sailing event, The League.
Pic by Hannah Fokkens

by Sophie Thompson

Eager Durban sailors will be hitting the water for the brand new L26 racing series simply called “The League”, that will take place both inshore and offshore over 20 Saturdays during the 2020 and 2021 Sailing Season.

Three series will be accommodated in The League, an Offshore Series, an Inshore Series and a Match Racing Series. The organising committee will endeavour to balance the number of races across the three series. The next race takes place on Saturday 24 October, with the boats lining up on a start line set in the bay.

There will be a minimum of one race to a maximum of five races taking place each day. Weather dependent, the race track will be announced by the Race Officer on the day of racing. The Inshore and Match Racing Series will more than likely have the quick-fire windward / leeward course, but the Offshore Series courses can be set a bit more creativity with loads of space to play around with. The number of laps for each race will be decided depending on the strength of the breeze on race day.

The League is the vision of the L26 Class Committee and is hosted jointly by the Point Yacht Club and the Royal Natal Yacht Club. The exciting series will test the waters in Durban before spilling over to the other provinces. The nifty L26 boat is one of the most popular keeler classes in the country, and up until recently, was the yacht of choice for the most prestigious sailing event in South Africa, the Lipton Challenge Cup.

Driving The League is Chairman for the KZN L26 Race Committee, Tim Attwell, who states with contagious enthusiasm, “The series will have a bit of a Top Gear or Tour de France feel where the leading boat will get to fly a leader flag. It could be the overall leader board flag or boasting victory from the previous race, winner of the last day’s racing or top junior, and for some added fun – a polka dot flag will be rewarded to the boat with the best starts on the day.”

“The L26 is a fantastic boat to learn on, and to glean racing experience. Our aim is to give the regular sailors an opportunity for some close one-design class racing, but also to encourage newcomers to this wonderful sport, in one of the best sailing venues in the world.”

A new development in Durban sailing, will be the inclusion of a digital software that will be run on all the L26s called RaceQs. This programme is making waves in the international sailing community and will achieve two things, provide inciteful training and post-race analysis, while allowing spectators to view the racing in real time from home.

Commenting on the future of sailing in Durban, Commodore for Royal Natal Yacht Club, Leo Kroone said, “Masakane. That is what I believe we all need to do to make our sport grow. We need to work together, plan and simple. The L26 is a beautiful boat to sail, and teaches you so much about team work and working together to get across the finish line. The launch of this fun and competitive series shares our vision of Masakane, which is hugely exciting for sailing in Durban, and South Africa.”

Commodore for the Point Yacht Club, Myles White shared, “This is a brilliant initiative organised by Tim and his passionate team. Witnessing our L26 youth sailors shouting with absolute glee as they sail past me on my dinghy, each weekend, is heartening for the class, for this series and for sailing. I look forward to watching it grow into a vibrant, national league.”

For more info or wanting to get involved, contact Shanee Davieadmin@rnyc.org.za
or phone the Royal Natal Yacht Club on 031 301 5425.