Calvin Gibbs ‘Optimist of the Month’ – January 2018

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Calvin started his sailing career at Imperial Yacht Club with a learn to sail course in O9ers along with a bunch of friends. 6 months later Calvin and his school friend, Mathew Thorburn, took part in the Hermanus Points Series regatta as Optmist B fleeters. The bug had bitten and soon he had his own Oppie and was sailing regularly at IYC. He developed steadily over the next year taking part in club sailing and any training camps that were on offer. IYC’s regular club sailing provided plenty of opportunity to get racing experience, time on the water, and make friends at the club.

The quest to learn and refine his skills as a youth athlete included taking part in any and every training program on offer. Taking part in his first Optimist African Championships in Tanzania was a very high learning curve and which provided a good platform to Optimist Worlds. He completed his Optimist career with Oppie Worlds at Lake Garda, Italy, and top African at Optimist Africans at Langabaan.

Laser was a natural progression as it provided the opportunity to compete in a class with a high level of sailing and international exposure. While he started off in 4.7, he hit a sudden growth spurt and within a year he was on Radial. The competition was (and always is) high in the Laser class and provided the opportunity to compete with adults as well as youth. The encouragement and passing down of knowledge by the adult Laser sailors played a significant part in his growth as a youth sailor.

The timing of Roger coming back from Rio Olympics and embarking on his program of giving back to sailing was fortunate. Calvin joined the RaceAhead squad and included taking part in Sonnet Nationals and an 8 week campaign of 4 top European Regattas including Laser Radial Youth Worlds and Laser Radial Open Worlds.

RaceAhead were appointed by South African Sailing as the coaching and management team for the 2017 Youth Worlds and put together an intense training program leading up to the Youth Worlds. The success at the Youth Worlds can largely be attributed to the success of the RaceAhead 8 week pre event training program with improvement in Calvin’s regatta ranking in European campaign from approx top 35% to within top 5 at Youth Worlds.

The 4th place at the World Sailing Youth worlds is the next highest place by a South African after Gareth Blanckenberg’s win in 1998, and amazingly, both are members of Imperial Yacht Club and went to Wynberg Boys’ High.