by Damian Gibbs
Wynberg Boys High took top podium position at the 2014 SOUTHERN CHARTER SAS WC Inter-schools at Imperial Yacht Club last Sunday. It has been 18 years since they last had their name on the winning high school trophy. The fresh to strong conditions over the two day event challenged the sailors but they ousted Westerford and SACS with strong sailing in the Laser 4.7 fleet. Dylan Long of Wynberg dominated the top of the Laser 4.7 fleet with six firsts out of a total of eight races followed by teammate Calvin Gibbs in third. Between the two of them they set a strong base to put Wynberg team in a dominant position. Team mates Matthew Thorburn and Nick Faraday, new to Lasers, pushed hard in the challenging conditions and eventually Matthew Thorburn secured enough good finishes to edge Wynberg to the top.
Second place Westerford had a co-ed team with two sailors in the Dabchick fleet, Wade Ashton and Nicola Burger, ending fourth and fifth respectively in their races, and younger team mate Elsja Dijkstra competed in the Optimist Senior fleet which enabled Westerford to secure the position of second overall high school.
Last years winning high school trophy holder, SACS, were final podium finishes this year. Warwick Strutt’s convincing seven firsts and Michael Hoyle second in the Dabchick fleet edged SACS ahead of Bishops High. SACS newcomer to the Dabchick fleet, Andrew van Niekerk, was very light for the strong winds and sailed valiantly to secure enough points to make SACS third overall high school team.
It will be interesting to watch the high schools next year as there are many up and coming girls who could repeat the 2005 edition by putting an all girls team back on the trophy. Westerford’s Nicola Burger and Elsja Dijkstra, and Springfield’s Robynne Hoyle and Gail Wheeler are all working their way up the fleet. There are new entrants to the high school fleet such as Sarah Deary (Wynberg Girls), and Amber de Decker and Emily Low (Herschel) to build the numbers. The all girls school, Springfield Convent, won the trophy in 2005.
SACS Junior sailing have a strong fleet and as expected, took line honours as the overall junior school winners with a young team. Alexander Brooks, Greg Hoyle and Matt Ashwell finished second, third and fourth respectively in the Optimist Junior fleet and gave them enough points to secure the title as winning junior school. Although Kai Leslie bulleted every race and relished in the strong conditions, it was not enough as he was the only sailor to represent the Rondebosch Junior team and had to be content with second placed junior school. However, without his eight of eight firsts he could’ve been pipped by the new comers Sun Valley Primary made up of Murray Macdonald, Ethan Faraday and James Street.
Special effort was made by Eastern Cape sailors Georgou Divaris, Nathan Page and Megan Robertson who came down for the weekend’s sailing. Georgou and Nathan (Glenwood House) had a good go at the Laser fleet with Georgou finishing second and Nathan fourth, but without a third team member the points were just not enough and were placed fifth high school overall. Megan Robertson was the only sailor from Curro Mossel Bay and used the opportunity to train with fellow Youth Olympic Games candidates, Calvin Gibbs and Dylan Long.
Racing started promptly on Saturday at 2pm in strong winds. The fleet of just under 50 sailors set off with three starts, one for Lasers, Dabchicks, and Optimists and Teras. The Lasers and Dabchicks sailed two triangles, a run down to a gate and then finish, with the Teras and Oppies completing just one triangle and a run to gate and finish. The gate provided the opportunity for tactical decisions by the sailors and often positions changed on the last beat to the finish. This provided lots of excitement and entertainment for the spectators who were within earshot of the sailors and could cheer their schools sailors as they passed from the lawn outside Imperial Yacht Club’s clubhouse.
The regatta was all about fun and providing a carnival atmosphere with music and live commentating, water slide jumping castle, and plenty of food and drinks for spectators and sailors.
Event hosts, Imperial Yacht Club, wish to thank SOUTHERN CHARTER for there ongoing support for this legendary regatta, all the volunteers who donated their time and rescue boats, and to Joshua Gericke and his team at Zandvlei Nature Reserve who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the vlei was virtually weed free and the water level as high as possible.