Optimist of the Month

Meet Keagan Nel

Keagan will be competing this year at the Youth World Sailing Championships in Oman.

Keagan started his competitive sailing career at the age of 9yrs. Coming from a sailing family he grabbed every opportunity that came his way. He competed in his first Continental Championships in Algeria at 11yrs in the Optimist class.

Thereafter he represented South Africa at Continental and World Championships in Angola 2017 and Cyprus 2018. Keagan moved off the Junior boat to the Laser Radial Youth Class. As well as sailing on many other types of boats whenever possible.

He had a successful campaign over the past two years, collecting podium finishes in the Dart 18 Class Single and Double Handed, the Laser Radial Class, and the Youth Nationals. Finishing off the season as the highest-ranked sailor in his division.

The combination of these achievements resulted in him being selected for the South African Team to go to the World Sailing 2021 Youth World Championship being hosted in Oman from the 11th to the 18th of December.

He will be participating in the boys’ ILCA 6 class. The Youth Worlds is the pinnacle of a Youth sailors’ career with a 60 boat fleet from all over the world and is used as a feeder event for youth going into the Olympic cycle.

Keagan is very proud to have been re-awarded his Youth Provincial Colours and received the award for the Northern Region Youth Sailor of the Year and Dinghy Discipline sailor of the Year.

International Day of the ‘Opti’ Girl!

Tina Lutz (GER) Olympic 49er Silver Medal – 11 October 2021

International Day of the Girl provides an opportunity for us to confirm that the strength, health and empowerment of girls is important in our future.  If we empower girls ….everyone benefits.

Opti girls are strong, resilient, and talented.  The results of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics illustrate that girls who participated in past IODA World and Continental Championships can become Olympic Champions.

At the Tokyo Olympics all the women boat helm medallists had earlier participated in an Optimist World or Continental Championship. Six of ten of the winners of the Girls’ gold at Optimist Worlds 1995-2007 later won Olympic medals.

Optimist Gold Medal                                Olympic Gold Medal

1995-6 Lisa Westerhof (NED)                   470 2012

1997 Siren Sundby (NOR)                         Europe 2004

2001-2 Xu Lijia (CHN)                                Radial 2012

2003 Hannah Mills (GBR)                          470 2016-20

2004-5 Tine Lutz (GER)                             49erFX 2020

2007 Alex Maloney (NZL)                          49erFX 2016

As we celebrate International Day of the Gilrl, lets all help the next generation of girls get the experience they need so that they too can go on to become Olympic Champions like the girls and women before them.  The Optimist Class prides itself that our class is gender equal but getting girls started and keeping them sailing is a challenge. We need to do more to encourage girls to stay sailing. We challenge our Members to raise the bar and bring more girls to our IODA events, so that they too can gain the Opti experience needed to inspire them to stay in the sport of sailing in the future

Remember if we empower girls ….everyone benefits!

Article first published on the IODA website

Two shining stars of youth sailing in South Africa

If sailing is to thrive amongst future generations, then it is our youth that needs to be encouraged and uplifted. Empowering our young sailors is something that we are extremely passionate about here at Ullman Sails and we always love to hear about what our youngest ambassadors are getting up to. Read more . . .

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