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

Day 4 – Big Seas & Medium Wind

تحيات من الآباء والأمهات رائعة الذين يقودون السيارات ودفع الفواتير.

اليوم نحن نحتفل ليس فقط عيد ميلاد اليكس ولكن أيضا عدد من أعضاء الفريق الذين تمكنوا من أول رقم 2 الصلبة لفترة من الوقت.

Today saw big seas and medium wind. Well big seas for everyone except the Cape Town fraternity. Launching was was difficult for most as the waves were riding up the launch area and everyone was trying to launch backwards as per norm. Now as everyone knows, the transom of and Optimist is big, vertical and flat. So when it collects even a small breaking wave, the result is a resounding wallop and a boat full of water. Claire, Richard and myself quickly helped the team turn the boats around to launch forwards and the kids were out on the water with far less hassle than the rest.

Then it was time to convince Captain Mohammed, that our 68ft spectator boat (pictured) could take the huuuuge 5 ft swell. Capt Mohammed is quite a character who usually takes great pleasure in watching seasick Egyptians, and this was how we swung him to our point of view. It was a great opportunity we said, because the TV crew was back. And so off we went into the tempest, but late enough to miss the start of the first day.

Our host on board, Amr Abo El Saoud, is not only the President of the Egyptian Sailing Federation and former National Laser Champion, but also the owner of the island and the establishment the regatta is based at. His other guests include the senior contracts manager at the Suez canal, and several other VIPs. So Richard and I are being entertained proper. Before long there were Egyptians littered all over the place and Richard & I had the boat to ourselves with Capt Mohammed and Mr El Saoud.

Richard and my ride for the week

Before the racing started I had a chance to meet with  IJ’s to try and glean some info on something that came up on Sundays racing re Rule 42 and marginal planing conditions. This I will share in a separate email to the Worlds team. We agreed that the rule as it stands favours lighter sailor in light airs with waves, and he said that National Federations usually select teams at the latest hour to suit the impending conditions at whatever regatta. Wow – ironic, as there was 16 – 20 knots 2 weeks ago here and the current light stuff will change to 16 – 20 knots tomorrow onward. Life is so unfair sometimes! In the meantime I suggest all the Worlds team read this document carefully . . . http://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/Rule42Optimist2013-[15691].pdf 

Onto the racing. It was slightly strange in that the swell that was running was much larger than the 11 – 13 knot wind warranted. We missed the first start, but made it to the weather mark timeously enough to see our guys (except Chiara) heading to the right again. I can’t understand it. We discussed it so many times – the left seems to favoured. And then in Race 8 it came together for both Ross and Chiara with a 12th and 10th respectively. Bryan Carstens is having a great first Africans with very consistent sailing and is deservedly well into the top half of the fleet.

Tomorrow is the last day and the wind is set to increase to 14 – 16 knots. I really hope everyone can sail to their ability and go out on a high.

We left the racing early due to only 2 races scheduled, and helped Capt Mohammed tidy up the piles of seasick Egyptians and the TV crew. I then joined the manager’s volleyball team for a mini tournament with the sailors as audience. We had a great run, beating the coaches, then the Organisers, but lost to the Jurors (we had to score 2 points for every of theirs).

It was Alex’s Birthday today and I don’t know how Richard did it but he conjured up a big multi flavoured ice cream cake which immediately attracted all the kids from other teams and Alex found himself a very popular lad. So not a bad day overall.

I have just come back from an African Sailing Confederation meeting where it was agreed between the SA, Mozambique, Angola and Algeria to support, but not coerce, either the Laser or/and the 420 as a follow on boat for Oppie sailors. The Seychelles and Tunisia are also looking at this. So jump for joy Stefan Falcon.

That’s it for now until tomorrow.

ليلة جيدة وأحلام حلوة


كال توملينسون

Overall Results after Day 4: http://2017africans.optiworld.org/uploaded_files/Document_6317_20170704162122_en.pdf

Angola in the lead again

Day 3 – Many a hard lesson learnt

Monday 3 July

تحيات الآباء المحترم للبحارة رائعة الذين يمكن أن تدفع المدربين اليأس في بعض الأحيان!

سلعم أليكوم ….

Today, the group is in a somber mood, and the team and coach is feeling a little bit down.

Yesterday was not a good day on the race course, with many hard lessons learnt. You all had my WhatsApp commentary during the races, so I won’t go further except to say that the results so far are not a good reflection of our kids ability and for all the hard work they have put in. Added to that the conditions are exactly the opposite of what we have been training in.

Insult to injury today when Team RSA was knocked out of the team racing after only 2 races. Admittedly this is not something the team has worked on at all. Angola successfully defended their team racing title against UAE in the 3 race final with a race to spare and their camp is over the moon. And so other than the Angolans, it was a bit of a glum ride home.

However . . .

Tomorrow heralds much stronger breeze and the forecast looks much more suitable for the SA sailors. There are 4 more races left in the regatta and I am sure with stronger breeze, the results will improve.

There are huge variances in sailing techniques and boat set-ups on the go here. The Angolans are sailing with tight vangs and stiff leaches, but the Egyptians seem to like everything on the rig much looser, to the point of being floppy. Yesterday in Race 6, Egypt 88 sailed by one of the smaller kids won by nearly a minute and a half. His sail set-up was a lot of twist in the sail upwind and the leach completely loose downwind. This seemed to make the sail a lot livelier – almost fanning the boat downwind. See the pic below. But the Angolans who are are winning the regatta at this stage have almost the opposite setup with board flat sails both up and downwind. As far as the Tunisians go, there is not a sail in their team that is less than 8 years old!!!

Rule 42 has not caused to many problems so far, but there is a discrepancy between what are planing conditions and not. Yesterday it was marginal and the lighter kids could pump and plane. I asked the rules lady at large about the heavier kids and the thoughts were that if they couldn’t get on the plane, then they weren’t entitled to their one pump per wave. This obviously penalises heavier kids in lighter airs quite badly. I am meeting with the IJ tomorrow to see if I can get some further views from him and will pass on to the worlds team.

Another area that is being addressed quite severely is misconduct and bad behavior – both on the water and off!  The evening before the regatta started, two Egyptians were indulging in a bit of horseplay in their room. Short version is that a football went through a sliding door window and one of them was cut quite badly on his leg. Both kids were immediately sent home with no refund – both due to misconduct and one with an added injury. The Egyptian Federation will hold an investigation separately, but both are facing impending RRS69 hearings – instituted by their own federation. SAS – take note!

Other things they are clamping down on is dishonesty in jury hearings, verbal abuse of competitors or officials, and not doing penalties for whoopsie-daisies on the race course. There is a ‘confessional’ form to be filled in at the end of each day where you state which rule you may have infringed during whichever leg on whatever race e.g. leg 2 – Race 4 – Rule 31 – one turn. Then the IJ’s look over that list and compare it with what they observed during the day. Woe betide you if you are on their list and not the confession form.

That is all for today.

The Imam goat-cats were in their towers again at 3.30am, so it’s been a long day – in fact the closest tower was late and only got going as the others were finishing. And he is really close, you can hear him warming up. The microphone goes, “click….tap..tap….…tap…..cough…..and then….ألااء أكباعاء ..اكي ياكي يخرج من السرير …..and so on.

حتى الغد،



كال ت


Team Racing Results: http://2017africans.optiworld.org/uploaded_files/Document_6314_20170703204128_en.pdf

EGY 88 – Note the floppy leach
EGY 88 way out in front