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issue – 34
16 September 2015
by Richard Crockett
Publisher & Editor of SAILING Magazine
For many the sailing season commences soon, depending on your region, and in Durban the new season kicks off this Sunday (20 September) with the joint Opening Cruise of the RNYC and PYC which is combined with Bart’s Bash.
I appeal to ALL sailors to make a serious effort to compete in Bart’s Bash, as not only is it for a worthy cause, and in memory of an outstanding sailor, it is part of a world record attempt too.
No excuses, just do it.
It’s also hard to believe that it is 10 years ago since the crew of the Fast 42 ‘Moquini’ tragically went missing during the race from Mauritius to Durban. They were remembered last weekend.
Enjoy this issue as we Talk About…
• The ‘Philosophy’ of Being Rescued
• South Africa is Not Equipped to Evacuate People From Ships by Helicopter
• NSRI Needs More Funds
• More Really Good Books
• Commonwealth Games
• America’s Cup – ISAF and Cup Jury summonsed by California Court
• Death in the Clipper Race
• ISAF Annual Conference
• Standing the Test of Time
• Sailing Mags Up for Grabs
• 1 Billion Facebook Users
• Keep The Cup Clean
• Bramble Bank Cricket
• Harbours: Western Cape Government to Initiate An Intergovernmental Dispute
• Plant Indigenous Trees
• Cape 2 Rio Race 2017
• Cape to Rio Race Memories
• Bart’s Bash – Don’t Forget to Register
• RaceAhead 470 Junior (u-23) World Championship Campaign
• Sailing Humour – BOAT
• How True! This Simply Needs to Be Said!
• I Like This!
• A Lasting Gift – A Subscription to Sailing Magazine
• Sailor of the Month – Submit Your Nomination Now
• Some Selected Responses to “Talking Sailing”
The ‘Philosophy’ of Being Rescued
I have recently had the pleasure of re-reading a few classic sailing novels, amongst them was ‘Trekka’ by John Guzwell and ‘…because the Horn is there..’ by Miles Smeeton.
Both these authors are sailing legends as they went out and simply ‘did it’ without fanfare nor a desire for any recognition.
The simple reason I mention this is that they both had very firm views on ‘being assisted’ when at sea, and both made this very clear. Smeeton said: “Both of us (his wife Beryl) feel that since we sail for pleasure, we haven’t the right to call for assistance when it may involve others, possibly in danger and certainly in inconvenience, should they come to our aid.” Neither carried radio transmitters.
It’s an interesting thought as sometimes I get the impression that there are those who go to sea with the view that if they get into trouble it is the responsibility of others to rescue them – and when they get into difficulties their families believe emphatically that the world has to stop, and that every single resource possible has to be mobilised. I don’t buy that in its entirety, although with modern electronics, EPIRBs, tracking devices, SPOT trackers and more, one can pinpoint exactly where a boat is today virtually anywhere in the world – which is maybe why there is a feeling of ‘entitlement to be rescued’.
This also highlights another aspect of rescue – that is to save the boat or not?
In recent years I have seen many references from rescue authorities whose view is now simply to save lives, not boats.
To me, the bottom line is simply that one needs to know and fully understand the risks of going to sea in small boats, and be prepared for any and every eventuality. In modern day parlance that translates to ‘expect the unexpected’!
It’s an interesting debate – and reader opinion is welcome.
South Africa is Not Equipped to Evacuate People From Ships by Helicopter
The passenger ship ‘Oceanos’ sunk off South Africa’s Wild Coast in 1991 and had it not been for the SA Air Force helicopters of 15 Squadron, which plucked the majority of the passengers from the ship, it is likely that there would have been a considerable loss of life.
Parliament was recently told that the air force currently lacks sufficiently trained pilots to be able to undertake a similar mission today. South Africa is not sufficiently equipped to evacuate sick or injured people by helicopter from the thousands of ships that pass its coastline every year.
Apparently there is only one SA Air force pilot on the South African coastline who is licenced to land on a vessel at sea.
The above was revealed in a presentation to parliament by the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) CEO Dr Cleeve Robertson.
Robertson was addressing the committee following a letter he sent to it in July highlighting the ‘unacceptable risk’ of medical evacuations by boat.
The NSRI’s volunteers performed around 70 such evacuations every year, but two safety incidents had highlighted the need for suitable alternatives.
On 11 May this year, a helmeted crew member on a boat alongside a ship narrowly missed hitting his head on the ship’s attached gang plank, due to swells. In another incident, a boat was sucked under the stern of a ship into the propeller wash, crushing the superstructure.
Robertson said the SA Air Force was best placed to meet the country’s international responsibility to provide maritime rescue because of its existing footprint.
NSRI Needs More Funds
The Portfolio Committee on Transport has called on government to consider increasing the capacity of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) by availing financial resources to the entity.
Committee Chairperson Dikeledi Magadzi said the Committee was excited about the work of the NSRI.
“Sea rescue activities speak to what government wants to achieve through Operation Phakisa and the risks associated. The Committee is excited and will support any calls aimed at resourcing the NSRI as an entity,” Magadzi said.
Magadzi said an interaction with the Committee on Defence would happen in the future and that the Committee will see how it takes this important task forward.
Let’s hope that this does not end up on the backburner and that the NSRI receives the additional funding it needs.
REMEMBER – you are NOT a survivor until rescued. So please give generously to the NSRI.
More Really Good Books
One of the perks of my job is that I do get to read some really good books. Two I have recently read got into that ‘must read’ category.
The first is entitled ‘South Atlantic Capsize’ – Lessons Taught by a Big Ocean Wave.
It is written by Dudley Dix and tells the story of ‘Black Cat’, the crew, the 2014 Cape to Rio Race and the storm that struck the fleet in the opening days of that race. It’s a personal account of what happened on the boat when it was capsized, what damage was done, what the men onboard did to safeguard vessel and crew, what they did to get themselves back to port – as well as what else was going on around them.
It’s rivetting reading as it is not just well written, but written by a man with a serious understanding of the sea, yacht design, yacht construction – and ultimately what happened to them out there.
I like the fact that it gives some history of the Cape to Rio Race, a pretty detailed account of the boat’s design and construction and his careful selection of crew. To many crew selection is simply a case of asking mates, but for Dix it’s far more than that.
So, for anyone contemplating competing in the 2017 Cape to Rio race, this book should be read, not for the scarey stuff, but for the practical preparation tips, and advice on handling bad weather. For those simply making passages at sea, there is lots to learn too.
The second is ‘Beyond the Break’ written by Wouter Verbraak
The news that ‘Vestas Wind’ had run aground on Cargados Carajos archipelago in the Indian Ocean during the second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race – was news which swept through the sailing world like wildfire.
The author, who was also the navigator at the time, takes full responsibility for the incident.
It makes really good reading as the text opens with the grounding and all its gory detail.
But then it takes a turn back to the author’s early days when the foundations for his passage into sailing were being paved. It’s good reading, not just for kids, but their parents too!
And then we are taken on his journey into meteorology, his personal pursuit of excellence and his views on a team’s pursuit of excellence. These pages are punctuated with highlighted and inspirational quotes and messages – all about excellence, fitting into a team and making a boat go fast. It’s good stuff and inspirational reading.
The final chapter covers the full incident in graphic detail, finishing with what the author believes he learnt from the grounding.
I can highly recommend that all sailors read this book as there is simply so much that they can learn from the author – about sailing and his philosophy of life.
NOTE. Both books will be available on the SAILING Magazine & Books stand at the Cape Town Boat Show from 9-11 October. Or call/mail: 031-709 6087 or email@example.com to buy them.
It’s now common knowledge that Durban will host the Commonwealth games in 2022.
This decision was taken by the 71 nations and territories of the Commonwealth Games Federation. At the same time the General Assembly also voted to increase the number of compulsory sports at the Games from 10 to 16.
The Games are scheduled to open on 18 July 2022 which marks the birthday of former President Nelson Mandela.
NOW for the big question. Will SAILING be included?
Wikipedia tells me that there are a total of 22 sports included, and categorised into 3 types.
Host cities must include a minimum of 10 core sports, and then up to an additional 7 from a list of optional sports/disciplines. Core sports must be included on each programme, while a number of optional sports may be picked by the host nation.
Aquatics (Swimming), Athletics, Badminton, Boxing (Men) with an option to add Women’s events, Hockey (Men & Women), Lawn Bowls, Netball (Women), Rugby Sevens (Men) with an option to add Women’s Sevens, Squash and Weightlifting.
Archery, Basketball (Men & Women), Beach Volleyball (Men & Women), Canoeing, Cycling (Road and/or Mountain Bike and/or Track), Diving (as part of Aquatics), Gymnastics (Artistic and/or Rhythmic), Judo, Open Water Swimming (as part of Aquatics), Rowing, Sailing, Shooting (Clay Target and/or Fullbore and/or Pistol & Small Bore), Softball (Men & Women), Synchronised Swimming (as part of Aquatics), Table Tennis, Tennis, Tenpin Bowling, Taekwondo, Triathlon and Wrestling.
Sailing does feature on the list of optional sports. SAS, the KZN Sailing Fraternity and others, what are you doing to see if we cannot have sailing included in the 2022 Games off Durban?
There are many plus factors to including our sport. Offshore Durban has some of the best dinghy sailing waters in the world, and in winter the water is warm enough for competitors to compete in shorts and t-shirts – a welcome respite from the freezing waters they often compete in, especially when competing in the Northern Hemisphere.
If a dedicated sailing centre could be established, the positive effect and spinoff for our sport across the country would be massive. With our warm waters and good breezes, we could attract top sailors from around the world to train off Durban.
Incidently Sailing has never been included in the Commonwealth Games. Let’s rectify this in 2022.
America’s Cup – ISAF and Cup Jury summonsed by California Court
The International Sailing Federation, the controlling body for world sailing, and the five individuals who made up the International Jury for the 34th America’s Cup have been served with a Summons by a San Francisco Court.
The action has been brought by Matthew Mitchell a former Oracle Team USA crewman who was one of five to be penalised by the International Jury after conducting an investigation and hearings into allegations of boat tampering in the America’s Cup World Series.
The taking of civil court legal action against the ISAF and a Jury, is unprecedented, and could have deep ramifications in the sport – where ISAF certified and approved officials are involved in all forms of adjudication, on a voluntary basis, and usually without any insurance.
Is this really where our sport is going? I certainly hope not.
Death in the Clipper Race
Brian Hancock, a home-grown KZN lad, a wiley sailor and known to his mates as ‘Mugs’ is now resident in the USA. He is a prolific writer and popular on the speaker circuit. As a sailmaker, he recently started a Blog entitled “All About Sails” which covers a myriad of topics. His views on the recent death on a Clipper Race boat are worth reading:
This past weekend there was a tragic death aboard one of the boats competing in the Clipper Round the World Race. A crew member, Andrew Ashman, was struck on the head by either the mainsheet or the boom, or both, and died of his injuries. It was the first fatality in an around-the-world race in a long time and it begs the question “is it safe to race around the world with paying amateur crew?” I am going to answer that right up front and say yes, but let’s take a look at the issue.
Crews competing in the Clipper Race pay a fairly substantial amount of money to participate. For the entire circumnavigation it’s a number north of $75K. In return you get trained, kitted out, and given the chance to forever change your life by sailing around the world. The Clipper Race, unlike the now defunct Global Challenge, sails downwind and therefore the boats carry spinnakers which add a bit more of a challenge to an amateur crew especially when sailing downwind in the Southern Ocean. The tragedy that occurred this past weekend had nothing to do with sailing downwind; they were going upwind off the coast of Portugal in a moderate breeze.
I am sure that there are going to be some who point out that taking paying passengers on a powerful 70-foot boat is unseamanlike, even dangerous, but let’s put this into context. This is the tenth time that they have run the race – every two years for the past twenty years. More than 3,000 people have participated and until now there has not been a single fatality. A pretty good record by any measure when you consider that so many people are out there on the open ocean for such a long period of time going through diverse weather situations that will inevitably deal out some nasty weather.
There have been a total of six fatalities in the Whitbread Round the World Race, now the Volvo Ocean Race. Three crew were washed overboard from different boats in the very first race and two crew were washed overboard from the same boat in the 89/90 race. The most recent tragedy was in 2006 when Hans Horrevoets was lost overboard from ABN AMRO TWO. Each death is to be mourned but that’s life and even more so when you are living Life at the Extreme, as the VOR slogan emphasizes.
I would wager that the Clipper crews are probably better trained before they leave the dock than many who set sail around the world. And let’s not forget this; by the time the teams reach Rio de Janeiro at the end of the first leg they will have sailed more offshore miles than many who consider themselves seasoned sailors. For the next 30,000 plus miles they are no longer amateur paying crew; they are just paying crew and pretty experienced ones at that.
Follow him at: www.allaboutsails.com
ISAF Annual Conference
The 2015 annual ISAF conference is in Sanya, China from 6 to 14 November.
This is a busy period as the ‘brains’ to whom we entrust our sport meet to make decisions that affect us all. They have over 200 submissions to be considered by the numerous committees.
Of interest are: The Equipment Rules of Sailing (ERS) and The Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS)
The Equipment Rules of Sailing (ERS) are updated every four years with modifications now being considered for the 2017-2020 version. Submissions include additional definitions for offshore sailing and yacht rating systems, and new definitions for equipment that is commonly used in kiteboarding.
There are a large number of proposals to amend The Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) for 2017-2020. The final text of the rules will become available from July 2016. Proposals being considered include the simplification of rules for rounding marks, standardising the use of discretionary penalties (rather than automatic disqualifications) and important proposals to widen the scope of rule 69 to include support persons… and parents. And consideration will also be given to a large number of proposals affecting the specialist disciplines of windsurfing, kiteboarding, match and team racing.
Parents, be warned, your days of terrorising officials at regattas may well be curtailed!
Standing the Test of Time
Who would have believed that something as humble as a jockey pole would be found ten years after being lost overboard?
It’s happened, as recounted by Hamish Purdy who competed in the Transpac Race in 2005. When 250nm from Honolulu, during a night time gybe, the jockey pole was lost overboard.
Recently, Purdy was exploring a beach to the west of Vancouver Island while on a camping trip when he saw a Southern Spars logo among the logs and driftwood. Out came a jockey pole, and on further inspection he thought it looked like the one lost ten years earlier!
The find was later confirmed by Southern Spars to be from the boat Purdy was aboard. It had drifted 2500 miles!
Sailing Mags Up for Grabs
Barret Ulett has approximately 90 Sailing Magazines in good condition, dating from August 1985 through to June 1993, with just 4 publications over that period missing.
He says they are far too good to dump for recycling, so if anyone is interested, please contact him as follows: 081 890 8979 or firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Billion Facebook Users
Facebook, or ‘Face Brick’ as an architect mate calls it, is something you either love or hate. If you hate it you are probably in the minority as this Facebook post by Mark Zuckerberg reveals:
August 27 at 1:33pm (13h33)
We just passed an important milestone. For the first time ever, one billion people used Facebook in a single day.
On Monday, 1 in 7 people on Earth used Facebook to connect with their friends and family.
When we talk about our financials, we use average numbers, but this is different. This was the first time we reached this milestone, and it’s just the beginning of connecting the whole world.
I’m so proud of our community for the progress we’ve made. Our community stands for giving every person a voice, for promoting understanding and for including everyone in the opportunities of our modern world.
A more open and connected world is a better world. It brings stronger relationships with those you love, a stronger economy with more opportunities, and a stronger society that reflects all of our values.
Thank you for being part of our community and for everything you’ve done to help us reach this milestone. I’m looking forward to seeing what we accomplish together.
Keep The Cup Clean
There is an organisation called ‘Sailors for the Sea’ (http://sailorsforthesea.org) which is a leading conservation organization that engages, educates, inspires and activates the sailing and boating community toward healing the ocean. We are a movement and pragmatic voice for action that offers boaters tangible opportunities to create a legacy and make a difference.
A recent editorial from them went like this:
This is an embarrassing time for all sailors when the management of our most important grand prix event chooses to ignore its obligation to protect the waters upon which we pursue our passion.
What goes up, must come down. Sea turtles, whales, birds and 267 other sea creatures are known to have suffered from ingestion or entanglement from plastic debris in the ocean.
Researchers from Queensland recently found that in one study, 78% of the plastic recovered from a sample of sea turtles came from eating balloons.
The recent lax environmental oversight of the 35th America’s Cup Event Authority has damaged the reputation of this hallowed institution. After achieving the highest honour possible during the 34th Cup for implementing environmental sustainability best practices, it is surprising that the organizers would pollute the ocean by releasing balloons in Gothenburg. Or stand by while eleven acres of marine habitat are destroyed to increase the size of the race village in Bermuda.
Given the enormity of the environmental crises facing our planet, a few balloons and some habitat destruction may seem insignificant. However it will take a concerted effort from all of us working together to save our earth. The commitment by the America’s Cup Event Authority and Louis Vuitton in the past America’s Cup was evidence of people bonding together to be stewards of our oceans. All of us, as leaders in the sailing community have a profound responsibility to lead by example. It is what inspires each individual to believe that they too have a part in change. Thus we strongly urge this America’s Cup team to recognize their mistakes and renew their strong commitment to our environment, our shared home.
Implementing environmental sustainability best practices at every location is possible and the America’s Cup Event Authority has demonstrated they can create world-class events with a small footprint. We saw this realized in the sustainability effort throughout the events of the last edition. It just takes personal commitment.
We urge sailors everywhere to keep up the pressure on America’s Cup Event Authority to do the right thing. Let your voice be heard:
Bramble Bank Cricket
There is a cricket match played on Bramble Bank in the Solent whenever the tide is out sufficiently long for a ‘match’ to be played.
It’s an eccentric escapade which sees teams from the Royal Southern Yacht Club and the Isle of Wight’s Island Sailing Club, go head to head, and dates back to the 1950s.
What’s unique is that the teams take it in turns to ‘win’ the match, cheered on by spectators anchored around the pitch.
The RNYC and PYC have been known over the years to slug it out over a game of sandbank cricket in Durban Harbour, but the ‘gentleman’s’ touch of taking turns to win simply does not exist! It has not been played for many years now, so with summer coming, how about it guys?
Harbours: Western Cape Government to Initiate An Intergovernmental Dispute
In a recent media statement from the Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, she stated that “Today we inform you that an intergovernmental dispute with National Government, over the management of the 12 fishing harbours in the Western Cape, is being initiated by the provincial government. While the dispute is being actioned, we are simultaneously drafting by-laws that will empower local municipalities to manage the harbours”.
This appears to have arisen as the harbours are neglected by National Government which in turn causes people to lose their jobs and resort to illegal means to make a living.
Harbours play a critical role in creating jobs and attracting investment. The Western Cape accounts for 71% of employment in the fishing industry alone. Harbours also play a critical role in creating jobs through tourism. A study prepared for the Western Cape Government shows that the most unique potential role of harbours within the tourism value chain is in terms of marine access, with specific opportunities including:
* Charters and specialist boat trips: Whale watching, adventure, nature, game fishing, shark cage diving, island trips, cuisine and entertainment;
* Sailing, power boating, and personal water craft related activities, including marina facilities and routes; and recreational fishing.
The Western Cape Government has over the years, continuously pointed that it is unconstitutional for these harbours to be under national government’s control.
Strength to your arm and success in taking control as envisaged, as hopefully this will impact positively on our sport.
Plant Indigenous Trees
No, I have not lost it, but have simply chosen to acknowledge those sailors who enjoy a bit of gardening too.
The first week of September was National Arbor Week which was celebrated under the theme “Forests and People: Investing in a sustainable future”.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced the ‘trees of the year’ as the Forest bushwillow (Combretum krausii) and Parsley tree (Heteromorpha arborescens) for the 2015 campaign.
The Forest bushwillow is found from the coast to the midlands in the eastern regions of South Africa and neighbouring Swaziland. The habitat ranges from rocky hillsides at altitudes from almost sea level up to 1 200m.
The Parsley tree is fairly widespread in the eastern regions of South Africa, from the southern Cape up through Eastern Cape and eastern Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland into Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. It also occurs further north in Africa.
So next time you are not sailing and have some time on your hands, plant a tree – please.
Cape 2 Rio Race 2017
The next edition of this classic race is in 2017 – well not quite if you sail a slower boat and start on Boxing Day – 26 December 2016!
I believe that the RCYC organisers finally have a winner here with their choice of dates as I firmly believe that the later they have left it into January to start, the less attractive the race becomes to those with leave issues.
With starts on 26 December 2016 and 1 January 2017, they have a winner.
Cape to Rio Race Memories
It’s sometimes hard to move with the times and get a grip on the modern jargon used today. This race used to be The Cape TO Rio Race, and is now the Cape 2 Rio Race – something minor, but enough to get the old codgers of yesteryear turning in their graves!
But I digress. I was recently sent three scrap books of cuttings on the 1976 Cape to Rio Race by Frans Loots for safekeeping in my archives.
What memories they bring back – some boat names I had forgotten, people too, and simply saturation coverage from the media of the day. All good stuff which I look forward to reading in detail soon.
Bart’s Bash – THIS WEEKEND
Don’t forget that 20 September is Bart’s Bash day – SIGN UP NOW.
So far the following RSA Clubs have signed up:
Algoa Bay Yacht Club
Boskop Yacht Club
Garden Route Sailing Academy
George Lakes Yacht Club
Imperial Yacht Club
Knysna Yacht Club
Lake Deneys Yacht Club
Milnerton Aquatic Club
Mossel Bay Yacht & Boat Club
Point Yacht Club
Redhouse Yacht Club
The Catamaran Club
Transvaal Yacht Club
University of Cape Town Yacht Club
Zeekoei Vlei Yacht Club
If your venue hasn’t already signed up please do so NOW at: www.bartsbash.com
RaceAhead 470 Junior (u-23) World Championship Campaign
Roger Hudson, the driving force behind this campaign reports.
When Asenathi Jim and I launched our Rio 2016 campaign in September 2012, we had a very different plan in mind compared to the London 2012 campaign.
For Rio 2016 we wanted to take the campaign further, but also to spread it wider. Firstly, we wanted to build our own performance level toward a top 10 finish at Rio and most importantly to try to establish a solid trajectory towards a future medal. Beyond this, we wanted to offer our campaign as a platform for keen young talented homegrown sailors to step onto for training and learning purposes in South Africa and as a springboard for the most committed sailors to launch themselves into the world of the Olympic class racing.
With this in mind we moved our campaign base from the UK to South Africa and started running 470 squad training sessions in SA from October 2012. In nearly 3 years since London 2012, we’ve held over 200 training sessions in 470s in South Africa, involving 30 young South Africans from around the country and from all backgrounds. Of these sailors, 8 became regular 470 squad training members and to date 5 have been selected and supported by RaceAhead to compete internationally at 470 events.
The most recent project on this front was the 470 Junior (u-23) World Championship in Greece in July 2015. Selected from the 470 training squad were: Brevan Thompson (22), Josh Rubenstien (21) and Alex Burger (19) who joined Asenathi Jim (23) with myself (Roger Hudson) coaching and managing the two-boat team.
For the Junior Worlds, we decided to team-up Alex with Asenathi at the Open 470 Europeans in Denmark – a major Olympic event, certain to be a tough test. This also gave me a chance to work more on our set-up from the coach-boat and to closely observe the world’s top 470 sailors. Of the 60 teams at the Open 470 Europeans in Denmark, 13 were u-23 sailors who were entered for the 470 Junior Worlds a month later in Greece, so this would be a very good yardstick test for Asenathi and Alex. The boys sailed very well to make the Gold Fleet and finish 28th out of 60 overall in the Open Europeans. Interestingly, they finished 2nd of the u-23 sailors, one place ahead of the Germans who went on to win the silver medal at the Junior Worlds, behind the brilliant young Frenchman who ultimately won the Junior Worlds title in Greece a month later. These were the only three u-23 teams that made the Gold Fleet at the Open Europeans. We saw this as a very positive result and a good indication for our hopes of a medal at the Junior Worlds the following month.
From Denmark we headed to Italy for the SB20 World Championship where our team (Asenathi Jim, Roger Hudson, Alex Burger, Taariq Jacobs) finished 4th out of 92. After this we moved down to Thessaloniki, Greece, where we met up with Brevan Thomson and Josh Rubenstien. For Brevan and Josh we chartered a very good hull (the boat that won the Bronze medal for Argentina at London 2012) and set it up with one of our rigs plus sails and equipment. It proved to be a fast package, as we couldn’t detect a speed difference between this hull and ours over a week of intensive 2-boat training involving a lot of swapping of equipment and our sailors. With the 2 boats and myself in the coach-boat, we trained extremely hard (between 6 and 7 hours a day) and started figuring out the rig, mainsail and foil set up that we needed to be fast in the light and relatively flat Thessaloniki conditions. We then competed in the 3-day warm up event (the Alexander the Great Cup) where our teams finished 4th (Asenathi/Josh) and 7th (Brevan/Alex) out of 40. For this pre-event we mixed things up, teaming Josh with Asenathi and Alex with Brevan in order to try to bring up the level of our less experienced sailors as fast as possible, and it worked very well from that point of view. The event provided us with excellent preparation time and we then took 2 days completely off sailing and rested for the main event.
For Asenathi and Alex the goal for the Junior Worlds was to win a medal and ideally to win the event. This seemed realistic since they had finished 2nd of the u-23s at the Open Europeans the previous month. The big challenge was to bring a different mind set to this event, an approach that would work well for a favourite, as opposed to an outsider. When your relative boat-speed puts you near the front of the u-23 Gold Fleet, it becomes all about cutting risks and errors as well as positioning yourself to capitalize on your speed advantage and lock in consistent countable races, generally top 6s. This was the key point of our strategy discussion for Asenathi and Alex prior to the event.
For Brevan and Josh the goal was first and foremost to make the Gold Fleet (top 30, out of 60) and then to fight on from there in the final series. The boys were less experienced than most in the fleet, but it was clear from our training sessions that they could keep pace with Asenathi if they focussed entirely on speed. So the key was to try to put themselves in open spaces on the start line and in clear positions to sail a simple strategy as fast as possible, minimizing tight tactical scenarios that would cause distraction and speed loss.
From our week of training we’d worked out that the wind was a consistent weak thermal of 5-7 knots from 210 degrees around 13h00, moving left later in the afternoon and settling at 180 degrees by the evening, generally increasing to 8-11 knots. The left was favoured from mid-afternoon onward for the steady persistent shift and for better pressure, and the more to the left the racecourse was set up, the stronger the case. When sailing a left favoured course in light conditions in a tight competitive fleet, holding your lane off the start becomes a massive priority, regardless of whether you start up or down the line.
Asenathi and Alex had the worst possible start to the event with a Black Flag OCS in race 1. This effectively knocked one leg out of their table and left no room for error for the next 10 races. They responded well by winning the next race and scoring a 6th in race 3. On day 2 they scored a 10 and 1 to put themselves 7th at the end of qualifying, still well in contention, but struggling for consistency, mostly because they struggled to win the direct option to the left, mostly because they struggled to trigger accurately off the start line and hold their initial lane. It was clear that if they were going to compete for a medal in the final series, they would need to improve in these areas.
Brevan and Josh had a reasonable first day scoring 16, 12, 21. They struggled with the starts, finding themselves in overly contested parts of the start line. Lying 37th after day 1, they needed an improvement on day 2 to make Gold Fleet (top 30) and we worked on a very simple plan to start higher up the line in less crowded areas but with maximum pace off the line. They managed this well and got themselves more into the game for the left side. We estimated they needed 25 points or less from the final two qualifying races to make the Gold Fleet. They scored a 9th and a 15th, so 24 points and out on the water we thought they’d made it and celebrated. When we got ashore we saw they had missed Gold Fleet by a single point on 4 boats, which was both surprising and a very bitter pill to swallow. They sailed really well on day 2 and ended up so close to the cut, but ultimately fell just on the wrong side of it. I really felt for them. But they showed real maturity in getting over the disappointment quickly and tackling the Silver Fleet series with positivity. They executed their strategy better and better throughout the regatta and did well to hang in to finish 4th in Silver Fleet and 34th overall. In race 10 they sailed a near perfect race to lead by 100m near the end of the race before it was abandoned on account of a race committee error, which was truly a case of bad luck. The guys can be very proud of the way that they learned and performed as the event went on. They really showed a lot of class in this respect.
Asenathi and Alex started the Gold Fleet series with and 4 & 8, which on paper was perfectly acceptable and took them up to 5th overall. But in both of these races they had rounded the top mark in the 20s and staged quite phenomenal comebacks, especially on the downwind legs. This was the day that they got out of jail. But the reality lurking behind these impressive comebacks was that they were not managing the starts well and were not able to win a clear route to the left on the first upwind legs. What happened over the next 4 races was that they didn’t get out of jail. They took risks that lead to 2 fatal mistakes, one that resulted in a U-Flag OCS and one where they tried an over-ambitious squeeze on the pin-end of the start line and hit it, taking a penalty behind the fleet in 5 knots of wind, effectively taking themselves out of the race and out of the regatta. It was painful to watch those 4 races as they scored 17, OCS, 23 & 14 and dropped to 13th overall. Once you are behind in a competitive fleet it becomes very hard to find a lane to the favoured side and very tempting to roll the dice on the un-favoured side because there are endless lanes available in that direction. It takes real tactical skill to find a way towards the favoured side from behind, but also real discipline to resist the temptation to take the easy lanes to the un-favoured side for a “hail Mary” and likely further losses. The lads were found wanting in this area, and on top of inaccurate starting, this cost them a respectable overall position, by their high standards. To finish 13th out of 60 at an Olympic Class Junior Worlds is a pretty impressive result for a smaller sailing country like South Africa. But by the standards that we as a group have set for ourselves, this was a failure, and all 3 of us are responsible for not getting a firmer grip on the situation as it was unfolding. Nonetheless, we take the time to think it through, talk it over, try to learn the lessons, and remember that the sun also rises tomorrow.
Our thanks go out to all of our supporters and those who have supported RaceAhead financially and make our projects possible; especially our fantastic sponsors Southern Charter Wealth Management, OpenBox Software, Synergy Income Fund, HomeChoice, Macsteel Maestros, Amtec, SAS & SASCOC. Thank you all.
Boat maintenance simplified:
If it moves when it shouldn’t – duct tape.
If it doesn’t move when it should – WD40.
How True! This simply needs to be said!
There is no monument dedicated to the memory of a committee. – Lester J. Pourciau
I Like This!
Printers ink is the greatest explosive. – Lawrence Ferlinghetti
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The Roll of Honour so far this year reads as follows:
February Alan Kernick
March Jof Heathcote
April Michaela Robinson
May Peter Funcke
June Rob van Rooyen
July Simone Swanepoel
August Stefano Marcia
September Blaine Dodds
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Some Selected Responses to “Talking Sailing”
● Thanks Richard – this is a great edition of “Talking Sailing”. So excited to see all the events, initiatives and results starting to flourish around the country/ world. There is lots to be done, but things are starting to move in the right direction. Many thanks for your support in making this happen!
● Regarding the Lugger story, don’t forget Webb Chiles. He made it from San Diego to the Canary Islands in one. His book is quite a read. It is interesting to note that he disputes Ant Stewards voyage as being invalid for an open boat because it was decked from the bow to the mast.
For news on his current voyage: http://www.sailingworld.com/sailboats/webb-chiles-way
If all goes to plan he will be in Durban late next year.
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