by Richard Crockett
Our young, and should I say up-and-coming 29er team, have so far outperformed a hot fleet, all the while racing far beyond where they ever expected to be in this competition. And believe me, it’s not luck that has seen them get this far, it’s sheer guts, determination and smart training under the guidance of smart people that have seen them scale to these heights – and absolutely nothing else.
Yesterday they finished the day with a 5th and a 1st – the 5th being their worst score in the series so far, and their discard.
Bolstered by better breeze, with steady winds of 12 to 16 knots, the team of Benji Daniel (16), and Alex Burger (21), widened their lead to place a firm grip on first place in the 29er World Championship regatta.
Daniel and Burger said they came to the championship regatta with the goal of simply doing their best. But after another solid day of racing – consistently placing in the top five throughout the finals – it just occurred to them that they could win this thing.
Despite sailing the 29er together for only four months, the young men trained specifically for this competition, purposely sailing in mixed conditions. Training in the waters off both Durban and Cape Town, the boys’ hometowns respectively, has prepared them well. Despite the series starting with unusual conditions for Long Beach, Burger reports that sailing conditions in South Africa are even more variable.
They also attributed their success to their height. It’s a massive advantage, they said. Both young men are tall and lean, giving them more leverage. “We also complement each other as a team, not only physically in size, but in making smart decisions,” said Burger.
Daniel, at the helm, is responsible for making sure the boat is going top speed all the time. “Whoever sails the shortest distance at the highest velocity, wins,” Burger said, adding with a smile, “speed makes you look clever.”
Daniel directs them along the shortest route, but credit he said goes to both team members for sharing responsibilities half and half on the boat – tactics and implementation.
Despite doing really well, the pair say that goal has not changed: do their best. “Our attitude will be the same ‘til the last race,” Burger said.
This dynamic duo is up against 129 teams from around the globe.
Today is the final day, with 3 races expected.
Their fate is in their own hands now, as the BMT and jitters of leading a world championship fleet should be old hat to them now as they have dominated throughout the event, so should be used to it. They simply need to sail as they have in these final races to win the world title as they have been fast and consistent.
If they do this they will be South Africa’s newest World Champions.
Just do it guys, just do it as South Africa is rooting for you.
Full Results HERE