report by William Brooks
After two days of R&R the team was amped to get back onto the water and race. We knew that the forecast was for strong wind and on arrival at Club Nautico we were not disappointed. A strong 25kt southerly was sweeping across the Rio del Plata against a fierce tidal current. The net effect was a mini version of conditions on our east coast, 5 to 6 ft growlers covered the whole course. Upwind would be tough for even the heavier bigger sailors, the reaches and runs would be crazy. The race organisation were undecided on whether to send the bronze fleet out, understandably the Aussies, Kiwis and South Africans were worried. Our team wanted the chance to be tested in these conditions. Luckily sense prevailed and all fleets were allowed out to race.
Man of the match
All our sailors did well in the tough conditions of Tuesday but one sailor really excelled. Arin produced a man of the match performance that will be remembered for a long time. An aggressive start strategy on the pin resulted in a jury call and a two turn penalty spin on the start. Arin then started his race stone last. Pure grit, hard work and determination on the brutal upwind leg got him mid fleet by the weather mark. Blast reaching down to the gybe mark he hooked another few places. Surfing pretty much continually down the run reeled in another ten places. After the final beat he crossed the line in 14th place beating a number of silver fleet sailors who had started around ten minutes earlier. My man of the match performance by the SA team at Opti Worlds 2014.
The perfect storm
On Tuesday night in Buenos Aires a ferocious storm unleashed itself on the city. Forked lightning lit up the skyline for hours as walls of rainstorms pelted down. Streets became rivers and flooding was everywhere. Club Nautico was in under crisis management as decks, walkways and boat parks flooded. All the optis were moved into the club car park and several got damaged in the process. The storm continued well into Wednesday as the Club tried to control the damage. With lighting across the course it was unlikely any racing would be called. This turned out to be the case and at 3pm racing for the day was cancelled.
The final day of fleet of Opti Worlds 2014 dawned clear but still. There was eager anticipation in the boat park in the morning hoping that the pressure would build and allow a final set of races. These wishes were answered when at 1.30 the signal was raised to launch all the fleets and head out onto the course for the races that would determine the final results of Opti Worlds 2014. A light southerly of around 6kts brushed the course, racing would be technical given the current that characterises the strategy in light breeze on the Rio del Plata. The cut off of 4pm meant that the fleet would only get one race in. The pressure on these young sailors was clearly evident. Our team did well given the conditions, Arin again delivering the performance of the day with a 10th place in the Bronze Fleet.
Fifteen year old Swiss sailor Nicolas Rolaz clinched the Championship with a comprehensively consistent performance across all the different conditions of this Championship. We had got to know the Swiss team quite well as they were staying in the same hotel as us. This was a team and a sailor on a mission. Management structures and processes at the regatta and through the months of preparation were rock solid. This was a well organised and happy team. Their Polish coach Ziggy has been working with the Swiss Opti Team for the last three years. In Nicolas they had a talented sailor with a determination, maturity and focus rarely seen in kids of his age. The combination was powerful. Watching the team celebrate the win together on arrival at the boat park was awesome. A great example to all of us.
The Thai team secured the team racing win and the USA team won the Nations Cup for the team with the highest overall points.
Final results for the SA team were as follows:
Alexander Brooks Silver fleet 60th : 129th overall
Arin Long Bronze fleet 6th : 145th overall
Campbell Tiley Bronze fleet 47th : 186th overall
Elsje Dijkstra Bronze fleet 62nd : 201 overall
Jemima Baum Bronze fleet 63rd : 202 overall
For a young team that have many more Opti Worlds ahead of them this has been a great result. They have delivered a performance well ahead of most peoples expectations and a significant improvement on the results of 2013. The future looks bright for the SA opti racing in 2015.
The Club Nautico San Isidro put on a world class closing ceremony including a fireworks show on a scale that we rarely see in SA. The full SA team proudly stepped onto the stage to collect their Championship medals. They have all made many friends, some connections will last for all of their sailing carreers. This Championship has been a great experience which they will remember for a lifetime.
A huge thank you to all who have helped this team, including parents, schools, associations, equipment suppliers, friends and associates. The biggest thanks of all must go to Dave Hudson for the effort he has put in to helping this team in preparation and at the Championship. This is your success Dave and we are all so very grateful for what you have done to help this team and to build the foundation of SA sailing.
All is good in Argentina. That’s all folks. Over and out.