Regatta ready

With the wind at their backs and sails primed for some head to head racing, young sailors threw all their wits together as they tackled the False Bay Youth Regatta and navigated their L26 yachts across the bay.

Simon’s Town-based False Bay Yacht Club’s sailing manager, Dale Smyth, 34, who is in charge of rolling out youth sailing initiatives and has completed a number of ocean crossings himself, is excited at the prospect of developing young sailors at the club, with the plan to enter a team in the Lipton Cup.

That competition kicks off later this year and intensive training preparations are underfoot.

“The weekend’s youth regatta was an event put together to encourage youth sailing at our club. We chose to use a ‘match racing’ format, which involves only two boats racing head to head over a short but intensive course.

“It is an extremely skilled sailing discipline and, seeing as a lot of the competitors have not done much match racing, despite being experienced sailors, they had a lot to learn in a very short period of time.

“On Friday night we hosted a few of the top match racing sailors in the country, who gave a great talk to the guys. Saturday was an amazing day of sailing with the wind blowing strongly from the South East, allowing for some good duels between the teams, who were hunting for a spot on the leader board.

“Sunday, however, was extremely windless and after delaying the start, all competitors took to the water to drift around as they waited for some wind. By 2pm we decided to call the race off and the final winner was decided over a good old-fashioned game of pool,” he said.

With the two popular sailing forms of fleet racing and one design racing each bearing their own advantages and disadvantages, it was decided that the youth regatta would take the form of the latter, to help the sailors with their preparations for upcoming, more long-course-based regattas.

“Fleet racing comprises all different kinds of boats competing against each other and the winner being decided on a handicap or time correction factor, based on the specific design of the boat. That is meant to level the playing field to make all boats equal but it obviously has its inconsistencies.

“One design racing, however, is racing boats of the same design against each other and therefore the tactics and the skill of the crew are what count the most. The L26 division is one of the most competitive one design fleets in the country and is also the boat that is used for the Lipton Cup. With this in mind we decided to use the L26s for the youth regatta, with the event being used as training for our teams.

“We have launched two L26 vessels that will be used exclusively for youth sailing and encourage anyone interested to come down to the club to take part in our weekly races.

“The Lipton Cup kicks off on July 8 and requires intensive training as it sees largely youth teams from around the country competing for the honour of hosting the Cup the following year,” said Mr Smyth.

“As a club, we are also looking forward to hosting our annual Spring Regatta, which is one of the biggest regattas in the country, later this year. We are also excited to have organised what is looking to be set as one of the biggest offshore events, with teams racing 200 miles from Simon’s Town to Mossel Bay. We already have over 20 entries, which is a big turnout in a South African context,” he said.