Optimist class of South Africa 2023/24 Newsletter

As the 2023/24 season draws to a close, I am encouraged by the enthusiastic and increased Optimist activity in all our regions over the past 9-months or so. I’m not going to steal the thunder from the Region Reps reports and go into the details, but I suggest you read the regional reports detailing all the great Oppie sailing that is taking place across the country.

A highlight of the sailing calendar is always the Optimist National Championships, taking place annually over the December school holidays, and in 2023 this regatta was held at HMYC in KZN. Thanks to the efforts of the local organisers, with a special mention to the  Pretorius family as it was a huge success, with a big emphasis on kids’ enjoyment off the water as well as competitive and quality racing on the water. Without doubt one of the better Nationals held in recent times and an excellent reminder to us all as to why the Youth Nationals should be attended.



Reading the region reports, you will see that there is a lot of optimist club activity on the go, which is fantastic to see. The next crucial step in the Oppie sailors’ path is to attend events! The optimist class is as much about the social and fun side as anything else and I truly believe that regattas are where the kids come together, form bonds and make lifelong friendships and most importantly have fun. If you are new to the class and the sport, you’re unsure about attending regatta’s, please approach your region reps for assistance on how to get to and prepare for regattas.

Looking forward this year, the Optimist African Championships will be taking place in September, in the idyllic venue of the Seychelles. We are fortunate to be in a position where we have had lot of interest from sailors to attend and are sending a team of 8 sailors that will be representing South Africa and giving it their all. The team, made up of a mix of experienced sailors who have competed internationally before, Josh Keytel, Ross Mukheiber, Scarlet Celliers, Max Millan, Jens Dugas and Faith Lyons as well as a couple of future stars- Ben Henshilwood and Michael Mukheiber.

The Optimist World Championships will be taking place in December, at the exciting venue of Mar de Plata, Argentina. At this stage, the team is made up of Sean Sadler, Ross Mukheiber and Josh Keytel. All 3 sailors are competing in their 2nd World Championships and will be keen to improve on their results from last year. Sean, based and training in Spain, is currently in excellent form, achieving a 3rd in the 2024 Copa De Espana in Almere and ranking 3rd overall in the Spanish Optimist ladder.

If your sailor has aspirations to represent South Africa at the Optimist Africans and or Optimist World Championships, remember, to qualify and in the previous year of the event, your Oppie sailor needs to have participated in a Provincial Championships (to unlock eligibility). Then, their combined score of Youth Nationals and a Selections regatta (to be determined) gives a National Ranking Ladder. Eligible sailors are selected from this Ladder.


I would like to take this opportunity to make a heartfelt thank you to my committee for all their hard work and effort they have put into the class this past season. It is with thanks to these individuals and their incredible teams at the clubs that our class grows and feeds into the RSA sailing as a whole. The committee includes; Kendal Madel (Secretary), Richard Tanner / Shellee Nel (Treasurer), Philip Malan (Northern Region Rep), Cornel Pretorius (KZN Rep), Warren Harvey (acting EC Rep) and myself as Chairman/WC Rep.

Please remember our sport is wholly reliant on volunteers and I would like to encourage you to get involved. If you would like to affect change, the best way to do this is from within rather than from the outside. There are many levels you can volunteer at, be it at your club, provincial committee or national. The time commitment is not that big, but the rewards can be massive, so, please get involved!

In ending, I would like to wish our sailors heading off to the International competitions all the best, fair winds and above all have fun and enjoy the experience. Do us proud!

Dates to Diarise:

Provincial Championships


29/30 June – Northwest Championships

3/4 August – KZN Championships, Zulu Land Yacht Club

7/8 September – Gauteng Championships

12/13 October – Freestate Championships, LDYC


26-28 April, WC Championships, Saldanha Bay



15-19 December – Optimist Nationals, Wiggleswade Dam

Region Reports:

Eastern Cape Report

Kwazulu Natal Optimist Report

Northern Region report

Western Cape Report