Sean Fennessy reports
The 2014 KZN Youth Provincials held off Vetch’s beach at Durban’s Point Yacht Club on 13 and 14 September was a real contrast over the two days – the beastly easterly started blowing earlier than expected on the Saturday, and sailors were greeted by a choppy sea and a freshening 12 knot breeze when they got down to the beachsite.
After registration with Lucy de Freitas, PYC’s new sailing secretary, followed by a safety briefing, the youngsters kitted up and ventured out into the semi-sheltered water close to the clubhouse, while race officer Kevin Bingham and his team bounced around further offshore, getting the course laid in the bumpy conditions.
Some of the Optimists, who had not been to sea before, did not launch, while others, like Duncan Hawksworth, decided to stay in the shelter of Vetch’s reef to test their abilities. The rest of the fleet made their way out to the start line, and started the race in two batches, with around 20 knots of breeze and a nasty sea. Capsizes were plentiful, and most of the fleet retired as conditions deteriorated, so the race officer decided that another race was not worth it. Rescue boats were kept busy towing sailors back who were too tired to right their boats, or who had broken gear.
Those whose guts and boats held out, like Chad Stevenson, Ozwen Chetty, Benji Daniel, Illiana Boura and Dominic van der Walt, were rewarded by being able to bank low points in anticipation of the following day.
And a cracker day it turned out to be, with a gentle southerly and a flat sea, plus some interesting wind switches to keep the race officer and sailors on their toes. Four races were sailed to make it a regatta with a discard (to the relief of those who had DNCs and RETs from the day before), although some of the visiting sailors from the northern region, like Sophie and Jasmyn Holthus, had to pack up early to start the long trip back.
Benji maintained his dominance in the Oppie fleet, although Liam Fennessy tried hard. Taalia Naidoo also pressed Chad in the Tera Pro fleet, while Cameron Parle and Ozwen did well on their Tera Sports to stay in touch with them.
In the Open class, the Hurters braved the sea on their Dabchicks on the Saturday, while Matthew/Sarah Hall on a Dragoon, and Dylan Albert/James Butler on a Hobie 16, enjoyed the calmer Sunday conditions; on a 420, though, the Brophy-Tintinger brothers were out on both days.
The regatta was a qualifier for those who have to sail two provincials and the upcoming youth nationals in order to be eligible for selection in their respective national class teams.
Perhaps Durban didn’t provide quite the sailing conditions to be expected in the nationals at Aeolians on the Vaal in December, but good experience was gained all the same.
Results: kzn youth champs 2014 WPM$N26W