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Record Fleets of Yachts seen on Stofvlei, Hermanus

Competitive yachting in South Africa is on a positive ascent if the Southern Charter Youth Sailing Championships held recently on Stofvlei with hosts Hermanus Yacht Club has been anything to go by. A record number of yachts - more than what have been seen during recent history at any one event held under the auspices of South African Sailing (SAS) gathered on the premises of the Hermanus Yacht Club. Representing most provinces, some 32 Yacht Clubs, and all recognised youth classes of yachts.

All-in-all 211 dinghies and catamarans collectively competed in the regatta - a selection event for South African youth teams or individuals destined to compete in upcoming world championships internationally.

The Southern Charter regatta got off to an excellent start at the beginning of the week with the large fleet of SAS recognised youth sailing classes seemingly almost "filling-up" Stofvlei. The three courses when all the yachts were on the water together seemed to span the length and width of the beautiful salt-water inland vlei, also known as Kleinriver lagoon. Sunny conditions prevailed and a light and highly sailable breeze of about eight knots cooled the air. It was an inspiring and record-breaking sight of note. Everything seemed to be running smoothly - testimony to excellent organisation by the various committees involved in bringing this national event "together".

There was an almost calm in the air while the two hundred and plenty youth prepared their craft for launching in anticipation of the first race of this premier championship event.


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The Hermanus Yacht Club facilities were a virtual "sea of sails"


Meantime, a large crowd of parents and other supporters took shelter from the summer sun on the clubhouse veranda and under the Bedouin-style tent that had been perfectly positioned so as to offer an optimum vista of the unfolding events and quiet excitement that is so typical during the closing minutes before such an important regatta gets fully underway. This set the pattern for the week of highly competitive yacht racing - 12 to 14 races in all (some classes ended a day earlier than others so as to allow for Team Racing) - hallmarking an extremely successful event judged by any standards. "Fortune favours the brave" it has been said many times before. Indeed, as the week unfolded weather patterns resulted in a significant variety of both water and wind conditions that time-experienced sailors on Stofvlei know only so well. The variety of challenges thrown at the competing youth that had come to participate from many parts of South Africa and also overseas (New Zealand, Zimbabwe and France [Reunion Island]) gave every competitor the chance to test their mettle against other youth-sailing peers in a vast and sometimes complex variety of sailing conditions that presented as the week of the competition unfolded. According to host yacht club HYC Commodore Andrew Rissik "this event saw the most boats ever at a youth nationals event in South Africa. A notable record indeed. There was great weather for the majority of the event with a wide range of wind strengths to challenge competitors irrespective of where they might have come from or what their local conditions might be like on their home waters". There was a great spectator atmosphere onshore and after the robust challenges that were placed on the young sailors on the water, there was fun and interest awaiting their return to the club after racing had finished. Prize-givings were held on various evenings and special feature events took place. One such was the visit to the regatta of local PUMA Unleashed skipper Hylton Hale of Royal Cape Yacht Club who came and addressed the youth on the Volvo Ocean Race that is currently underway. Of importance the Volvo race had started from Cape Town on the Sunday - the day before the first race of the Southern Charter Youth Championships. This meant that most competitors had not been able to witness the start of this historic second leg of the race - from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi. This second leg had been shrouded in some mystique due to the need for "ocean porterage" of the yachts between certain latitudes due to the menacing threat of piracy. One of the other highlights of the after sailing early evening activities was the evening video debriefs by champion sailor and sailing personality Ricky Robinson which by all accounts were hugely informative and entertaining.


The premier Youth Nationals itself event had been generously sponsored by title sponsor Southern Charter and this contributed significantly to the success of the championship regatta. The Southern Charter sponsorship of youth sailing reflects their continued commitment to the development of South Africa's young sailors.  


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Without the generous support of title-sponsors it is unlikely
that amateur sports would survive in South Africa

 

Southern Charter believes that sailing offers a positive environment where important life lessons can be learnt and nurtured such as positive self-esteem, increased self-confidence, the ability to make decisions and importantly, taking responsibility for one’s own decisions and actions in an ever changing environment. Southern Charter's support has spread from the Western Cape Inter Schools Regatta and the SA Youth Nationals to the 4.7 Laser Youth World Championships. By investing in the up and coming talent they are investing in the future of South African sailing and the youth of South Africa. Other sponsors of note included Coca Cola Description: http://www.hermanusyachtclub.co.za/images/Coke.jpg, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport Description: http://www.hermanusyachtclub.co.za/images/Dept-of-sport.png, as well as ADT Description: http://www.hermanusyachtclub.co.za/images/adt-logo-yellow.jpg, a well known South African security service provider. Local expert professional photographer Dave de Beer captured the entire event "on film". Without sponsorship, support and back-up as seen at this regatta it is unlikely that amateur sports such as competitive sailing would continue to function effectively in South Africa. The overall event itself was held under the auspices of South African Sailing (SAS) Description: C:\Users\User\Pictures\SASailing.jpg which provided substantial administrative support and which brought significant technical skills as well as back-up to the event. The on-site hosts of the overall record-breaking regatta itself were the Hermanus Yacht Club which provided the wonderful family-friendly facilities, their well-known hospitality and much, much more. HYC were delighted to host this important event as part of its 60 th anniversary and felt honoured to host this event for the sailing children of South Africa and international visitors.

 

Description: C:\Users\User\Pictures\2011-12-12 Wayfarers, Volvo and Youth Nationals\Wayfarers, Volvo and Youth Nationals 109.JPG
Behind the scenes a willing group of volunteers and professionals worked by day and sometimes
by night to help ensure that the Southern Charter Youth Nationals turned out to be the
record-breaking success that it was

 

Article and pics: South African Sailing (SAS), and Dave de Beer

 

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