“Talking Sailing” From My Archives. Slow Optimist Start in RSA

Michael Giles haming it up for the cameras and showing the enjoyment of sailing his own boat. Having fun in a boat is priority number 1 for new youth sailors.

by Richard Crockett

It certainly seems that there was some reluctance in this country to establish the Optimist class – maybe due to the strong presence of the Dabchick fleet which grew exponentially once launched?

Rhodesia led the way in Southern Africa, hosting a Junior Schools regatta in Optimists in 1969, with 180 young sailors attending – 57 sailing Optimists.

In South Africa two clubs specifically promoted the Optimist Class, that being Henley Midmar and Zeekoe Vlei Yacht Clubs.

HMYC hosted an Optimist Class regatta in December 1970, with a 100% turnout of local boats, and a lone entry from Rhodesia. The results of this regatta interested me as Roy Heiner was 2nd overall in the senior Oppie fleet. Heiner went on to Olympic glory in the Finn, sadly not sailing for South Africa despite his sailing roots firmly being here.

1971 saw little fanfare in this country about Optimists until the second half of the year when a photo in SA Yachting showed a brand new fleet of 20 Optimists which had been built under the supervision of Eric Bongers, with Club members and parents assisting. Interestingly that photo is still in my archives and is shared here, with pics of the building team at work in the shared pages of the magazine.

Enjoy the selection of pics chosen today, and please LIKE and SHARE.

READ THE RHODESIAN JUNIOR SCHOOL REPORT HERE:  Pages from 1969 06 – SA Yachting -000271 – OCR

READ THE HMYC OPTIMIST REPORT HERE:  Pages from 1971 02 – SA Yachting – OCR


S James in ‘Stancombe Wills’ and Anthony Stephenson in ‘Chatterbox’ at the finish of the last round.
Gary Crawford (640) of BSC; Michael Haliburton (647) of PYC and Rowan Ditchman (839) of PSC.
Nico van Wieringen.
G Brink, Volke Hooyberg and Jos Hooyberg.
Nico and Roberrt van Wieringin.
Michael Giles.
Brothers Andrew and Peter Haliburton on 29 December 1980.
Janet James (770) and L Davies (912).
Nico van Wieringen with Anthony Stephenson close behind, rounding the gybe mark before the last beat.
Paul Dival in ‘Mighty Mouse’ from Bloemfontein crossing tacks.
Runner-up in the Optimist Class – Nico van Wieringen from Zeekoe Vlei.
It all happens at the gybe mark!
The caption provided says Felix Unite, but which one is he?
Arthur Draper on port.
Janet James borrowing a protest flag from (novice) S Penny.

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