Wrap up – African Optimist Champs 2017

تحياتي الآباء والأمهات والخالات والأعمام، وأنا أكتب هذا من المحطة 3 في القاهرة الدولية، ولكن قد تكون قادرة فقط على دفع زر “إرسال” مرة واحدة في المنزل

We arrived in Cairo much earlier than needed due to Claire and Chiara flying off to Thailand 6 hours earlier than us. We had hoped to drop our bags at the airport and then maybe take a taxi down town to Cairo and see the sights, but one look at the chaotic traffic convinced us otherwise.

We have had a wonderful 9 days in Egypt and on balance, a very valuable sailing regatta (more on that later). The Egyptians couldn’t have been more gracious hosts, and the whole event was a success for them and the sailors alike.

Yesterday saw the last two races in quite a big sea running and with between 13 – 17 knots of wind. Still not enough breeze to make the sailors hike, but better than the previous 3 days racing. On the first race, there were 5 postponements blown under black flag at the one-minute signal due to competitors surging over the line due to the swell. Lucky fish Chiara was substantially caught alone over the line on the 6th postponement (at one minute), and this time it was due to the pin boat dragging anchor. Ordinarily under black she would have been DSQ’d if the race had have started. She then posted her best result for the regatta.

Capt Mohammed was our host once again on the spectator boat and had managed to convince yet another TV crew that the conditions were calm and stable. Once more the main cabin quickly became what appeared to be an infirmary full of Egyptians within inches of their lives, mumbling to Allah for mercy. Above on the bridge deck, Capt Mohammed chortled away and toasted his new unaffected South African ‘frens’, Richard and I.

Once again, the Angolans, showed everyone how it is done with bullets in both races. Wonderful stuff from one of the smallest sailing federations in the world. Chiara Fruet broke into single digits for the first time in the regatta – the first SA sailor to do so. Bryan Carstens continued his steady progress in the mid-teens and finished 17th overall – top SA sailor for African’s 2017.

So it was with mixed feelings for me as we voyaged back to the sailing center (surrounded by Egyptian camera men feebly holding onto whatever they could while drunkenly regurgitating their earlier free lunch). And then as we got close to shore the engine stopped. Just like that! The boat lurched broadside to the now steep waves, and the mal-de-mer onboard reached catastrophic proportions. I suggested the anchor, but Capt Mohammed did not see any wisdom in that (Egyptians seem to do things differently when faced with a lee-shore). Achmed, the deckhand dived below and came up immediately to report back to Capt Mohammed. No action followed. At one stage, one of the Tanzanian moms, Sarah Stephens and I contemplated swimming for it. After a vigorous argument with his skipper, Achmed dived down below again and moments later the engine started. Achmed emerged beaming. I gave him a quizzical look and he said, ‘Jelly Fish’. It transpires there is a plague of them and they get caught up in the engine cooling system. The argument between Capt Mohammed and Achmed was as to whose turn it was to haul the beast out of the filter.

Prize giving followed a similar vein to the opening ceremony with lots of military and civilian dignitaries. There was a danger at one stage that it was becoming all about the officials, but once that was over the prizes were dispensed. Angola first and second individuals; first and second points accumulation; and for the record – 5th, 7th, and 31st positions too. A tremendous result from a country much poorer than many of the other attending nations – particularly our own!

Nuno Gomez, a wonderful character who is currently the head of the African division of I.O.D.A. is seen by many as the architect of the Angolan success. He has done a great job and must be congratulated. South Africa has lots to learn their example.

Roll on African’s 2018 in Maputo. I have met the Mozambique team whilst here. They are great guys and will be pulling out the stops to make it the best African Optimist Champs ever.

Until then, Team RSA Manager over and out.

ذهب بسلام،


كال توملينسون