Sean Kavanagh had a strong showing at the 2019 African’s held in the Seychelles. He finished 4th overall, was first under 12, won two races, never finished worse than 8th. He turned 11 years old in August and weighing in at 36kg did very well in strong wind conditions, to compete with a strong Angolan team filled with 14 and 15 year old sailors, weighing in at 50-60kgs.
Ian was outstanding at the Optimist World Championship in Antigua in July, finishing in 5th place overall from a fleet of 255. To my knowledge this is the best finish by a South African Optimist Sailor at Worlds.
1. Congrats on your result. How did you feel about your performance at the African Champs?
I was very happy with my performance, achieving my pre-regatta goal of a top 5 and contending for a medal. I left some points out there, especially on the first day. I will take the lessons onboard for future regattas.
2. It was very close heading into the last day’s racing – was it nerve-wracking or was that extra motivation?
Conditions were very tough on the last day with winds gusting up to 30 knots. The Angolan sailors are over a head taller than me and weigh 15-25kgs more, so they had a natural advantage. I gave everything I had, but it was not to be. As I said above, the dropped points on day 1 came back to haunt me.
3. What do you think gave the Angolan sailors the edge?
The Angolans were tall, heavy, fit and sailed well. In the strong wind conditions this was always going to give them an advantage. They also had depth in their squad, with 8 sailors in the top 10. In most races there were only 2 or 3 non-Angolans in the top group. As such one always seemed to be covered by an Angolan. The Angolan sailors all had the same bids, same sails and very similar sail numbers such as 603, 306 etc. When they infringed the rules at the start in some races it was very difficult to remember which Angolan to protest. Consequently they got away with a few questionable starts, particularly barging the line on port at the pin with little regard for starboard boats. Next time we need to sort this out early in the regatta.
4. What was the highlight of the event for you?
I love the warm water, challenging conditions and amazing friendliness of the Seychelles people. I will back in a shot.
5. How did you find the conditions in the Seychelles?
Conditions were challenging, with wind in the moderate to fresh range, a 1.2 knot current, oscillating breeze, perpetual pin bias, right hand favoured race course and Angolans everywhere.
6. What’s next for you now in terms of events?
We have a training camp in Cape Town during the September school holidays and then work up to the Youth Nationals in December, with all our favourite club events in between.
7. What is it that you love about sailing?
I love making friends from other countries and the opportunity that sailing provides to travel internationally. I love being the captain of my own ship, love the competition and the mental and physical challenge that competitive sailing provides. Its a great sport, you’re outdoors and with your mates all day long, what could be better?
From an interview with Karien Jonckheere from SA Sailing.