RSA 49er Olympic Campaign – the Halfway Point

pic by Pedro Martinez/Sailing Energy
pic by Pedro Martinez/Sailing Energy

report by Graeme Willcox & Andrew Tarboton

2015 marks the halfway point of our campaign to qualify South Africa for the 31st Olympic Games, in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The first 2 years of our campaign we focussed on boathandling and team work. In the 49er class this is most of the battle, now in 2015, we now have to step it up to the next level and learn to race the professional teams on the circuit at their home venues. This is the hardest circuit on earth for an amateur sailing team to do well on!

We get to sail against some of the highest paid sailors in the world who have committed half of their lives to the quest of winning that gold medal at the next Games. Mountains this high would seem insurmountable if we did not have the single-minded drive and focus needed to use our minimal resources to hone our skills to allow us to race with these professional teams.

The majority of the teams are fully supported by their national and/or Olympic authorities who have an army of supporters following the circuit from coaches to logistics managers to physiotherapists to chefs, no stone is left un-turned to ensure their teams don’t needed to think about anything other than winning the sailing races they take part in.

Our national authority does not have the financial punch to provide this sort of support for the few sailors from South Africa who are out on the circuit. This means we are our own coaches, our own logistics managers, physio’s and chefs. Not to say it is impossible, it just means we need to keep on top of things to make sure we are ready when it comes to racing. We have to make sure there are no niggling worries in the back of our mind as we sail out to the start line each day, as this would hinder us and prevent us putting 100% into that race, which helps us build the series of races and all counting towards the regatta result.

Each of these regattas then count for points towards our World Ranking.

This is our year to show what we are capable of!
Our goal is to compete in six world ranking events, starting in March and culminating with the World Championships in Argentina in November. Our goal is to break into the top 50 in the world by then. After the Worlds we then go back into our final winter training before we compete for THE spot at the Olympics which will be done in Palma -March 2016.

We hope that this drive and determination of ours can inspire the youth of South Africa, from all walks of life, to strive for their dreams and not to let anything stand in their way preventing them reaching their goals.

As you can imagine, all this takes time to put into place and also takes money to put into motion. We both have full day jobs which we use to pay for our ventures. We do not receive support form our national sailing body or Olympic committee.

So if you or your business, or if you know of someone who may be able help us in anyway possible, we would be more than grateful with the support – and will gladly provide you with more details – our e-mail address is:

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