Helen Jansen van Vuuren ‘Optimist of the Month’ – June 2018

Helen first sailing experience was as crew with her Uncle, Andy Wahl in Sept 2013 in the Mirror Nationals at the Vaal dam. That was all it took.
Under the watchful eye of Shellee Nel, Helen started sailing Oppies. At her second Youth Nationals at Wiggleswade 2015, Helen won the first girl. Thereafter she was selected to the African Championship on two occasions, Angola 2016 and Egypt 2017.
In the Mirror class she has also represent SA at two Mirror Worlds, 2015 Theewaters and 2017 at Restronguet Sailing Club near Falmouth in Corwall,UK.
Helen has opted to move onto the Laser class and would like to take this opportunity to thank all her fellow oppie sailors for all the memories and friendships made. Wishing Team RSA all the best for Africans and Worlds.

Rivaldo Arendse ‘Optimist of the Month’ – April 2018

Rivaldo started his sailing career in optimists being part of 6 sailors selected from Du Noon. Immediately out of the 6 he showed the most potential. Of the 6 he was the only one to persevere with sailing and he genuinely loves to sail.

Rivaldo has competed all over the country competing in all the Grand Slams as well and Regional Championships and Nationals as well as Mirror Worlds.

Rivaldo out grew his Optimist at 13 after sailing it for 4 years and moved onto the Laser. He was quickly spotted by Roger Hudson and Asanathi Jim from Race Ahead and invited to join their program. He competed in the 2017 Sonnet Nationals with Roger where they placed second.

Rivaldo was then selected to compete in the 2017 Youth Worlds in Sanya, China, with Benji Daniels on a 420. With only 2 months to prepare they achieved a middle of the fleet finish in a highly competitive competition on a boat neither had sailed before.

Most recently Rivaldo sailed his Laser 4.7 into first place overall at Hermanus Classic Regatta.

Rivaldo is always smiling and cheerful and is the first person there when you need help. He is a true inspirational sailor.

Sean Kavanagh ‘Optimist of the Month’ – March 2018

When I first met Sean about 6months ago he was sailing in the B-fleet at ZVYC. But within 3 months of watching him improve Sean ended up in 3rd position at nationals which is a great achievement. I’ve never seen anyone improve so quickly and understand the sport so well and that is why I feel he should be sailor of the month.

Sean competing at the recent Youth Nationals in Midmar

Greg Bertish ‘Optimist of the Month’ – February 2018

In April 2016 Greg Bertish sailed an 8 foot Children’s Optimist dinghy around the Cape of Storms. He crossed False Bay, rounded Cape Point and headed for Langebaan Lagoon on the wild West Coast. His 200-kilometre journey matched the 200 days he had spent in hospital fighting life-threatening heart infections.

He raised R300 000 towards a new Intensive Care Unit at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. Greg hopes this journey of a REAL Little Optimist and his Children’s book about a little believer with a HUGE heart,will help teach kids that being small, sick, poor or different is OK. And prove that they too can survive and thrive. His  story will inspire kids and the world to believe in themselves, get better, be better and follow their passions and dreams.

Greg Bertish is a big wave surfer and a South African Champion Lifesaver and Stand Up Paddle Boarder.

He is an ambassador for the Children’s Hospital Trust and the National Sea Rescue Institute,and founder of the Shark Spotter Program. He has helped raise over R2 million for these charities to date.

He has achieved all of this as a Multiple Heart surgery survivor and patient. He continues to promote conservation, water safety, healthy living and optimism.

He is supported and empowered by Warwick Wealth, to go out there and Just Do Good!

Thank you for choosing an Optimist in your endevour to make a difference. We salute you!

Be an Optimist & Never Ever Give Up!

The Little Optimist http://thelittleoptimist.org/

Calvin Gibbs ‘Optimist of the Month’ – January 2018

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.