“Talking Sailing” by Richard Crockett – issue 21

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issue – 21
3 August 2014

by Richard Crockett

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An Important Week for Sailing in Durban
This week, well Friday 8 August to be exact, is going to be one of the most important times in the history of both the Point and Royal Natal Yacht Clubs’ histories.

On Friday 8 August the RNYC members with voting rights cast their ballots to determine whether they will merge with the Point Yacht Club.

PYC members gave their authority some time back to ‘go ahead and merge with the RNYC’. The RNYC members at that time requested a firm proposal to vote on – and that’s what is happening on 8 August.

This is not a debate on the merits of the subject as the issues have been debated over decades. Instead we are now on the cusp of something big, or, confirmation once and for all that Durban wants to remain a backwater of sailing in this country.

This merger is all about SAILING – and should only be all about sailing and nothing else. It is not about history, old fights, misinformed impressions and hearsay, or about which party may lower the tone of the joint Club – it’s simply about SAILING.

The fact that there are some members vociferously against the merger is something which can be expected. However, the absolute hatred of some members against the other club is cause for concern, as is the fact that some do not feel that the sport will benefit in any way from the merge. Sorry, but one simply has to be an idiot to believe that!

My plea to all members of the Royal Natal Yacht Club who have voting rights is to please make a concerted effort to cast your vote on Friday 8 August at the RNYC between 08h00 and 18h00. A Special General Meeting will be held shortly after the ballot closes to announce the result.

Wherever you are in the country, and you have voting rights at the RNYC, please make every effort to be in Durban on Friday 8 August to cast your vote. It’s important, very important.

Incidently I am a long-standing member of both clubs.

Durban – is it A Backwater of Sailing in South Africa?
In the above paragraphs is mention of Durban being a backwater of sailing. Well is this really the case?

I believe it is as there is little unity in the sport with club politics and individuals ruining what could be a good thing. The proposed merger between the two Clubs will change this positively.

One simply has to look at recent history of sailing in Durban to realise that we were once regarded as ‘the regatta centre’ of the country. Classes clamoured to have their national championships in Durban waters for no other reason than they were considered to be amongst the best in world – with mild year-round conditions and water temperatures. T-shorts and shorts are almost standard attire in winter too.

Durban has hosted many Worlds and Championships as well.

So far this year the country has had three World Championships, and another two are to be held before the year end. And Durban was hardly considered.

When last did Durban host a National Championship for a class that arrived with more than a handful of boats? Without too much research I am certain it was the 2012 Laser Nationals – more than two years ago now.

A good sailing friend when discussing the matter recently stated emphatically that Durban has hosted more world championships than any other venue IN THE WORLD. It has hosted the Fireball and 505 Worlds twice, the J22 Worlds, the FD worlds, the Enterprise Worlds, the GP14 Worlds – and what other classes have I forgotten?

Club racing in Durban does not attract significant numbers on weekends either, with Wednesday night sailing being the strength – if one can call that strength?

The ‘them and us’ attitude in Durban has prevailed for too long and done nothing to promote or better the sport in this city.

If the two Clubs merge, one will hopefully get renewed enthusiasm through a united bunch of sailors as well as the best sailing brains in the two clubs coming together to put Durban back on the map both locally and internationally.

Surely that is what the sport in Durban needs desperately?

What Has Happened with Medium to Long Distance Offshore Racing in SA?
This question has been posed by Nicholas Mace who is concerned about the status quo. This is what he says and has proposed:

It seems that the only remaining choices are the Vasco da Gama Race and Cape to Rio Race.

Sadly, both the Walvis Bay and Mossel Bay races have stalled for the last 3 – 4 years.

The Vasco da Gama Race documents, including the NOR, were sent out countywide recently. Ending the Vasco Race in Port Elizabeth might go some way towards attracting Cape Town yachts, but I think additional leverage can be achieved. So, here’s my 5c worth.

Let’s create a full-on coastal race from Durban to Cape Town.

Yes, the timing is very tight, as most of us have professional commitments and simply cannot afford more than a week off.

I suggest this schedule may be ‘do-able’ if it is limited to a minimum IRC rating of say 1.10?

Trophies at the end of each leg would be based on corrected time as per normal.

A new (huge) trophy for the overall winner on combined corrected time (SAORT – something worthwhile to do with all your trust funds!). Possibly we can get ‘colours’ allocated here too?

If we allocate a weighting based on distance, it could allow for discards as follows:
Leg 1: 400nm = 6 parts
Leg 2: 180nm = 3 parts
Leg 3: 240nm = 4 parts
Total = 13 parts

10 parts to count (i.e. 3 discards – half the Vasco time could be discarded if that is the worst race performance).

Obviously this scoring and the thoughts above are simply an idea.

The first step is to find out whether there is interest from the yacht owners. If we can’t get 10 serious racing boats, let’s not bother.

If we can, then we can start with organisation – which should not be too much as we can simply use the Vasco protocols, scrutiny, etc.

We just need buy-in from the various clubs to host their portions.

And sponsorship – maybe it will be a good proposition to companies with national coverage (i.e. Vodacom).

However, I cannot see why we would need a lot of funding to put this together – only legs 2 & 3 require input.

And one last thought – the potential race from CT to Walvis Bay that Felix-Schieder-Bieshen; JJ Provoyeur and Bjorn Geiger are promoting could be incorporated (even if it is prior). That would make a race that covers almost the entire SA coastline.

Please feel free to ignore the above, give your opinion, or send insults to Nicholas Mace (nmace@nous.co.za) – and please copy “Talking Sailing” in too (editor@sailing.co.za).

Now that is a truly great initiative which would go a long way to rejuvenating coastal ocean racing in this country.

Reader feedback would be appreciated.

Vasco da Gama Race 2015
This race was mentioned above, so it’s appropriate to give an update here.

Interest in the race is spreading far and wide very quickly. Within hours of the official documentation being released, 3 entries were received.

The first was from Rob van Rooyen who owns ‘AL Mount Gay Rum’ – a Farr 38 in Cape Town. He has dominated the sailing scene there for some seasons now, and wants to try his hand on the Vasco da Gama Race.

Anthony Bailes from Port Elizabeth sent the second entry and will be racing ‘Malgas’ his L34. I believe that he has been doing a lot of work on the boat to upgrade her into tip-top condition, while also sailing her fast and well in PE.

And not to be outdone was the Farr 38 entry received by Jon Marshall of Durban. Jon has done the race several times before and is very keen on the run to Port Elizabeth.

More entries are promised soon – so the interest is there and a bumper race can be expected.

As the race documents were released, so the official Facebook page went live. So far it has attracted more than half the ‘likes’ the race Facebook page attracted for this year’s race – so there is tons of interest out there countrywide with some very interesting enquiries having been received. Watch this space!

Follow all the news on the facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/VascodaGama2015?ref_type=bookmark

or go the Point Yacht Club website where the NOR, Entry form and other documents can be obtained: http://www.pyc.co.za/vasco-2015/

Moth World Champs
Jof Heathcote is a well know sailor now living and working in the UK. He is a fine sailor and wiley competitor, so I suppose it came as no surprise to see that he had entered the Moth World champs. For those of you who don’t know the Moth, I suggest you go and have a look at it as it’s a seriously fast foiling dinghy – so it sails mostly out of the water.

Not just anyone can sail these craft well, as the skill level is massive, yet Jof distinguished himself at the worlds despite having only been in the boat for about six months.

At the Nationals immediately prior to the Worlds only 3 races were sailed due to the light winds. Despite having picked up a Black Flag in race 2, he still finished 53rd out of 104 boats.

The worlds saw all the big guns come out and the fleet swelled to 133 boats. It’s very fast and intense racing and he put together a mixed bag of results; enough to hang on to 35th overall. Jof said he was slow enough to be miles behind the top guys, but fast enough to be in front of exactly half the gold fleet. An awesome result.

“It was a fantastic experience; a real step up from any of my previous sailing. A top quality fleet that due to the nature of the boats does not have the same cut-throat attitude on the course as is seen in many other (Olympic) classes. And besides that, they are just really fun boats to sail (even though it was a relatively slow week and my top speed was only 24knots)” he said.

In an article he has written for the September issue of SAILING Magazine, a comment he made is one which is very appropriate to sailing in this country. He said: “They are amazing and getting myself a Moth has totally reinvented sailing for me”.

Sailing in this country so desperately needs new and exciting classes to ‘reinvent’ sailing for so many.

Reinvent sailing in this country is another challenge entirely, and reader thoughts are most welcome (editor@sailing.co.za).

I Like This!
May your ANCHOR be tight, your CORK be loose, your RUM be spiced and your COMPASS be true.  anon

The NSRI is always in needs of funding as it has some expensive equipment to maintain. Plus the costs of offering a Sea Rescue service nationally, and inland, is expensive.

While I can only always implore people to give generously, it is worth knowing that all merchant ships which call at ports in South Africa are levied R250 which goes directly to the NSRI.

My only question is – why such a small amount?

But, every little bit helps the NSRI, so that R250 is very welcome.

Some Boating Humour
The skipper is always right. Misinformed perhaps, sloppy, crude, bull headed, fickle, even stupid, but never wrong.

We have all sailed with ‘skippers’ like that I am sure?

If readers have any anecdotes and experiences of the above, please share them with “Talking Sailing” (editor@sailing.co.za).

Class Membership
Most of us know that to compete in a Championship one has to be a member of the class association. Rules vary from class to class as some require the owner AND helmsman to be members, and other different combinations.

The reason for mentioning this is that at a recent event some competitors were not members of the Class Association, and were in the medals. There are grounds for disqualification here, although the intention of this is to remind all sailors to be aware of Class Rules – whatever they are.

The L26 Class recently released the following on this subject:

L26 Class Membership – Important
Aside from the Lipton Challenge, please be aware that the L26 Class membership requirements HAVE to be complied with if a boat is to compete in a Class Race. This is standard practice for class racing anywhere in the world. So please, make sure you comply with the L26 Class membership conditions BEFORE entering any L26 Class race or regatta.

Sailors who try to enter events without proper proof that their boat’s eligibility requirements have been met put unnecessary pressure on regatta organisers and can even put the regatta in jeopardy. We have seen this in this country during the past year.

In particular, the practice of signing a declaration on an entry form confirming that an owner or skipper is a member of the Class Owners’ Association when this is not the case, is unacceptable. It probably constitutes fraud, and certainly invites a Rule 69 investigation.

The membership requirements for class racing in the L26 Class are quite clear. In terms of Class Rule 2.3.9, if an L26 is to compete in a Class Race then: The owner, or owners if a boat is shared, must belong to the Class Owners’ Association. The skipper must also belong to the Class Owners’ Association unless the owner, or at least one of the owners if the boat is shared, is on board during the racing in question. In the case of a boat owned by a Club, we obviously don’t require all the individual club members to join the Class Owners’ Association. This means that club members are not co-owners in terms of Class Rule 2.3.9, so it follows that the skippers of Club-owned boats always have to join the Association to compete in Class Races.

Finally, the L26 Class has taken a decision that CR 2.3.9 will only be enforced in Class regattas , including Nationals, Provincials etc, and not in casual weekend racing.

ED. This is as good a warning as it gets.

Sail-Training Supporters and Tall Ship Enthusiasts
Piet Potgieter, Chairperson of the SA Sail-Training for Life-Skills Association (SASLA) sent me information on an interesting tall-ships book.

I have taken the liberty of sending you the link below (from Sail Training International) regarding the beautiful, recent publication “Tall Ships Today”.

SA Sail-Training for Life-Skills Association (SASLA) is our formal link to STI and has not given up on the idea that someday, South Africa will be able to join the Tall Ship fleets when and where they gather for their annual events.

Kindly take the time to read this Special Edition of The Masthead and in so doing, keep the dream of our own Tall Ship alive.

Should you wish to get your own copy of the book at a reduced price, please let me know as SASLA is in the process of collating the name list to place an order with Sail Training International.

Please copy the link below into your web browser to access the details about the book.

Nautical Superstitions
For centuries women have been something of an anathema on board boats. I for one am not superstitious and always welcome women aboard.

Here’s why in days of yore women aboard ship were looked at sideways.

Women were said to bring bad luck on board because they distracted the sailors from their sea duties although naked women on board were completely welcome.

That’s because naked women “calmed the sea”. This is why ships’ typically had a figure of a topless women perched on the bow of the ship. Her bare breasts “shamed the stormy seas into calm” and her open eyes guided the seamen to safety.

Women weren’t welcomed aboard ship, except in port. Sometimes passion couldn’t wait and affairs were consummated on the gun deck. That’s supposedly where the term “son of a gun” originated.

Now if it takes bare-breasted women to calm angry seas, I’m game and had better start recruiting – quickly.

Incidently, my lifelong dream is to be the cook and navigator aboard an all women crewed racing boat! And I am sure that I could calm any angry sea!

Some Selected Responses to “Talking Sailing”
● Craig Millar has opened the proverbial can of worms. I smell the dogs of destabilisation and confusion at work around the harbour!

● Captain, yet another goodie! Well done!
“Craig Millar for President! I believe he has accurately summed up the cancer gnawing away at sailing in South Africa, not specifically in Durban! Craig must be applauded for his candour and for having the gonads to tell it like it is!”

Further, I support your encouragement of the wearing of PFD’s in times of need. From personal experience not only are they comfortable to wear – at times one is almost unaware of their presence, but those having a built-in harness encourage good seamanship and clipping on.

●  Another enjoyable sensible e-mag.

●  The name “Bitter End” keeps coming up in your “Talking Sailing” issues. We were fortunate to beat the other ” Bitter End Yacht Club” in the BVI 2 weeks ago. Attached are some pics of this magnificent location (great pics too – ED). Gerhard Koper.

●  Greetings from Ireland. Your “Talking Sailing ” is most interesting and I am delighted to receive it.
Many of the topics discussed have relevance outside RSA – Especially on the management of Clubs. I like the emphasis that you put on the importance of getting people sailing first and worrying about Club structures second.
In the Republic of Ireland the government mandated that lifejackets (or buoyancy aids) must be worn in all boats under 7-meters and on larger yachts – one jacket per crew member must be carried on board. This system has worked well. However there are always those who do not obey any rules and there are still some fatalities etc.
Best of luck for the future with your articles and I look forward to the next issue.

●  There is nothing more destructive than negative energy, vested in the minds of the ones who are delusional and think they are elite – .’cos there are some who listen to them. Halleluiah positive change. Paralysis of analysis is another malady.
I am a land lubber from up-country, but that does not matter –  you guys are lucky you have a club/haven for your activities.
Lastly an opinion is like the anus – we all have one!

The Bitter End
Those who cannot see progress for what it is!

The ‘Bitter End’ is the inboard end of an anchor chain or rode which should be attached to the vessel so as not to be lost overboard in it’s entirety. In terms of “Talking Sailing” it’s things about our sport which get up peoples noses!

“Talking Sailing” is written by Richard Crockett, the Publisher & Editor of SAILING Magazine, South Africa’s monthly sailing mag.

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