Matt Ashwell – African Optimist Champion 2018

The final day of the 2018 Africans saw just one race. The wind was NE and quickly built from 12-14kts to 18-22kts as the race committee took some time to set the course. With wind building against an outgoing tide, the waves became short and steep, providing plenty of challenges for the sailors. The race was to be the best of the week for the South African team. Matt Ashwell ended the regatta in style, taking another convincing win. Karl Hofmeyer took a fine third place. Jude Stanley was 12th, Chiara Fruet 13th, Ingrid Holm 16th, Lena Holm 19th, Oscar Duys 31st and Rohan Childley 41st. Sean Kavangh failed to finish after taking a hard blow to his head when gybing. He was soon in an ambulance and off to the hospital for stitches. Not a great way to end a regatta.

Following race 8 the race committee hoisted AP over A signaling the end of racing for the day and the end of the regatta. Unbeknown to Matt, his dad Gavin, mom Jo and brother Oliver had flown in to congratulate and celebrate with him. They were on the water on a RIB, hiding low until Matt was alongside. When they stood up the look of surprise on Matt’s face was priceless, a truly memorable moment for the Ashwell family and SA Team.

At prize giving Matt was duly crowned 2018 African Champion and Ingrid took second placed girl. The SA team took third place in the team racing. When the national anthem was played for Matt it was a truly emotional moment, the culmination of and reward for years of hard work and skill building.

The event closed with an impressive fireworks display followed by some dancing and ‘creaming’ as the kids covered each other in cake.

The event was a successful one for Team SA. Many thanks to the organisers, hosts and sponsors. Congratulations to Coach Claire Walker and manager Jeanne Stanley on a job well done.

For four of the nine SA team members, this was their last Optimist regatta. We trust that optimist sailing has given Matt, Karl, Chiara and Oscar a love of the sport and that they will be sailors for life. With Brian Carstens and Keagan Nel (SA World’s team members) already on Dabchicks, the stage is set for the next generation of SA Optimist sailors to carry the flag to the Seychelles in 2019.

Jude, Ingrid, Lena, Rohan and Sean all had their first IODA Championship experience. They will no doubt be hungry for more.

Congratulations for Team SA, see you at Stilbaai, Vaal Dam in a couple of weeks for the Youth Nationals.


Michael and Heidi Kavanagh

Final Results

Africans 2018 – Update after 3 days of racing

Yesterday saw the resumption of fleet racing with 3 good races sailed. Following the passing of the front Easterly winds resumed, the sun was out and it was hot. Race 5 was sailed in 8-10kts. This was the chance for the lighter sailors to shine. Matt Ashwell won the race, continuing his dominant performance. Crossing the line just behind him was Sean Kavanagh. Sadly Sean was adjudged OCS. Rohan Childley sailed very well taking 14th.

The wind continued to build throughout the day, with 12-14kts for race 6 and 16-19kts for race 7. As the wind increased, so did the outgoing tide and the sea state became very challenging with short steep waves to deal with. The advantage shifted to the heavier and more experienced sailors. Matt Ashwell continued to sail brilliantly in all conditions although he was pipped to the finish line in both races, posting 2 second places. Rohan finished a credible 15th in race 6. Jude Stanley had a relatively consistent day posting results of 16,19 and 24. Ingrid Holm was sadly disqualified in race 6 for only doing a 360 penalty instead of a 720 when receiving a yellow flag from the on the water judges. She bounced back in the last race of the day, rounding the weather mark 4th and leeward mark 5th, before a final beat that saw her slip to 12th, still her best result in the regatta. That was enough to keep her as second placed girl in the regatta.

Sadly Karl’s DNF from race 4 (recall he crossed the line in 8th) was not redressed. The race committee gave precious little notice prior to the hearing. The notice was posted on the electronic notice board while team management were without internet access. Once notice was received, the parties rushed back to the club from the team hotel, dodging Maputo rush hour traffic. However the race committee were unsympathetic and could not see Karl in the video replay. As such his DNF stands. Life is tough! To Karl’s credit, he kept a brave face and with a smile, sees the bigger picture. He is amazing character and a fine young man.

Going into the final day we hope to crown Matt as 2018 African Champion. There will be a battle for bragging rights between Jude, Sean, Ingrid, who are lying 17th, 18th and 19th respectively. Rohan and Karl in 24th and 28th will be looking to mix things up with some good finishes. If Karl gets a second discard, he will shoot up the ranks and may well finish as second placed boy. Chiara, Lena and Oscar will be hoping to finish the regatta on a high and get into the top half of the fleet.

Wind on the last day is forecast to be more northerly and to build from 10kts in the morning to around 20kts later in the day.


Michael and Heidi Kavanagh

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