Team SA ready for Mozambican mission
Monday August 29, 2011
By Mark Etheridge
Team South Africa were given a rousing send-off in Johannesburg on Monday night as they headed off to Maputo, Mozambique and the All Africa Games. The team of more than 300 athletes and officials will be in action from 3-18 September and are aiming to end the continental competition as top dogs.
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula had earlier in the day begun the send-off to the South African rugby team as they depart for New Zealand and the defence of their Rugby World Cup title and made time to say goodbye to the Africa Games team. “No team must leave these shores without a proper send-off,” said Mbalula. “The All Africa Games will add value to the journey of sports development and you must know that all of South Africa are behind you. “Use these games to prepare for the ultimate battle in 2012 at the Olympic Games and remember that the more you sweat in practise, the less you bleed in battle.”
SASCOC CEO Tubby Reddy urged the team to give of their best at all time. “I ask you to knuckle down as conditions are not always going to be as good as you would normally expect but be good ambassadors and come back safe and sound.. and as No1′s.”
For his part, SASCOC President Gideon Sam said that the team must send out a clear message. “We are an economic power in Africa. People look up to us so it’s up to them to demonstrate to them how to compete. Countries are catching up and it’s up to us to show them.”
The team’s boxing and volleyball teams left on Monday already as they are expected to be first to compete but the bulk of the team, apart from athletes competing at the World Athletics Championships, were at the send-off. Among them was one of the youngest team members, 13-year-old Optimist sailor, David Wilson, the Grade 8 Somerset College pupil “hoping to win a medal” in Mozambique. Netball captain Precious Mthembu was also there. “Some of the top players aren’t here but we’re all from a 30-strong squad so we’ll give of our best.”
The organisers planned anad managed to achieve 2 races for Optimists, 2 for the 420s and 3 for the Radials today. Although racing was delayed by the light clocking winds this morning, they finally got underway just after noon when the wind settled to a sea breeze of about 8 knots. It picked up throughout the afternoon to about 15 knots to provide perfect racing conditions. The Laser class got the day off as they decided to alternate Radials and Laser full rigs daily due to the limited number of available boats now being shared between the two fleets.
Results are still to be posted but from what I saw from shore, it's as follows:
David Wilson 1,1
Ruben Heard 4,5
Daniel Spratley 11,6
Emma Clark (they are scoring girls separately) 5,1
DAY TWO - Tues, 6 September
The Optimist class sailed out for their racing on schedule and started race 3 at 10am in a fresh offshore breeze. Competition was tough and our SA sailors battled to read the wind switches. They dominated the starts and first beats, but often lost a few positions by going the wrong way, unlike the Tunisian sailors that, although having slower boat speed, managed to read wind pressure changes on the course accurately on each leg often overtaking our sailors. The 4th race was won overall by a Tunisian girl but Emma also had an outstanding race finishing in the top 5 with Ruben and David.
After the start of the Optimist race 4, the Laser full rigs and 420s were given permission to launch, and the wind dropped substantially. After a lengthy postponement once the Optimists had finished racing for the day and headed back to shore, the Lasers started their race 1 in the prevailing sea breeze that picked up steadily throughout the afternoon giving the Lasers their scheduled 3 races and the 420s their 2 races. With the Seychelles two-times Olympian sailor on the water, the two South African entries had tough competition and struggled to keep up with the leading boat. Allan Julie from Seychelles won all 3 races for the day with Rudy McNeill achieving 3,2,3 and Craig Richards a 4,5,5. Our 420 sailors dominated the class once again with a 1,2.
Overall SA standings after day two of sailing:
OPTIMIST BOYS - 4 races sailed, 18 entries
David Wilson = 1
Ruben Heard = 2
Daniel Spratley = 10
OPTIMIST GIRLS - 4 races sailed, 8 entries
Emma Clark = 3
420 - 4 races sailed, 5 entries
Eben & Johan Vivier = 1
LASER RADIAL MEN - 3 races sailed, 16 entries
Stefano Marcia = 3
Matthew Shaw = 2
LASER RADIAL WOMEN - 3 races sailed, 10 entries
Jessica Deary = 1
Bridget Clayton = 2
LASER - 3 races sailed, 17 entries
Rudy McNeill = 2
Craig Richards = 4
Day 3 of sailing will see the Optimists, 420s and Laser Radials on the water whilst the Laser full rig sailors enjoy a day off. The weather is overcast with light winds predicted to switch back to the on-shore trade winds around lunchtime. Our guys and girls are all pretty confident and positive for some great results again today.
DAY THREE - Wed, 7 September 2011
Light winds all day lead to interesting changes on the scoreboard and more competition for our heavy-wind-dominant SA sailors in all classes. The Optimists and 420s sailed their scheduled two races and the Laser Radials started later than expected for their 3 races, thankfully in the more steady sea breeze that seems to fill in after lunchtime each day. With the SA sailors leading most of the classes going into racing today, it seems they were the target of cover-racing and jury boat attention in each class throughout the day. This unfortunately resulted in 3 DSQs - hugely disappointing but a challenge and good learning curve for our team.
David sailed consistently in both races and secured a 1st and 2nd. Daniel was still battling to get ahead of the main pack and finished the day with a 12,9. Ruben finished 7th in the first race and realised the left side of the course paid, but after the start of the 2nd race, he still ended up sailing to the right of the course and ended up rounding the first mark 3rd last. He finished his discard race 17th and very disappointed. Emma was consistent amongst the girls with a 4,3.
DAY FOUR - Thurs, 8 September
South Africa and Seychelles dominated the Laser class today as did our SA Optimist and 420 sailors - it was a great day. The winds started light as usual and once more picked up from the same 090 degree ENE direction with max gusts of 17 knots. Perfect weather - perfect wind for sailing. If you ever want to come to Mozambique for a holiday, September is the time to come!
The Optimists started the day with their usual 2 races and David Wilson was unbeatable once again with a 1,2. Ruben finished 9,4 and Daniel improved substantially with a 5,3. Emma battled to get going but picked up her game in the 2nd race finishing in the girls class with a 6,3. Eben and Johan were invincible with a 1,1 and are loving the brand new 420 supplied to all the sailors taking part. They say the boat is completely different to the 420s we have in SA and it's sheer pleasure sailing with all the new, improved equipment.
Rudy and Craig both sailed like stars and together with both sailors from Seychelles, they were streaks ahead of the rest of the fleet. Watching these top Laser sailors on the course is both exciting and a pleasure to see such athletic prowess. Rudy 2,2,3 and Craig 6,5,4.
Day 5 is a lay day for all but the Radials, who have 2 races starting at 10am. The winds are predicted to be fresh off-shore turning to the ENE later in the day. We hope to take all our sailors to watch some of the other SA teams in their respective sports today - basketball, soccer, netball and swimming. Last night there was great excitement in our accommodation as the SA athletics team arrived. It's so great to feel like one large supportive family, not just with fellow sailors but with athletes from so many diverse sports. We have tremendous support from our team mates, particularly our Optimist sailors that seem to have become the mascots of the entire All Africa Games team.
Overall standing after day 4:
OPTIMIST BOYS - 8 races sailed, 18 entries
David Wilson = 1
Ruben Heard = 3
Daniel Spratley = 9
OPTIMIST GIRLS - 8 races sailed, 8 entries
Emma Clark = 2
DAY FIVE - Fri, 9 September
Rest day, no sailing
DAY SIX - Sat, 10 September
David continues his dominance at the front on the pack, closely followed by Ruben Heard and Daniel Sprately who has found his pace! Emma Clarke had another good day on the water! Emma got a 1st and a 2nd. David got three 2nds. Rubin Heard a 4th, 6th and unfortunatley a DSQ. Daniel Sprately a 4th and a 3rd.
FINAL DAY & PRIZE GIVING - Sunday, 11 September
What stars...... the South African team takes home the most medals out of any other country at the 2011 All Africa Games. It has been an experience of note working with this team - I have enjoyed getting to know each of our sailors and to share this experience with them. The cherry on the top has been the success shown in their results AS WELL AS the amount each of them has learned and grown from taking part in this event.
The final race for the Optimist class, 420 class and Radial classes took part this morning in lighter breezes than the rest of the regatta, but the organisation was once more flawless and all 3 races were completed by 13h00. We are really happy with all the results of all our sailors - well done Team South Africa...
OPTIMIST BOYS - 11 races sailed, 18 entries
1 David Wilson - RSA 18
2 Abelkhalek Boussouar - ALG 19
3 Ruben Heard - RSA 62
4 Daniel Spratley - RSA 65
5 Islam Khoualed - ALG 68
6 Mahdi Zemmour - ANG 70
OPTIMIST GIRLS - 11 races sailed, 8 entries
1 Ines Gmati - TUN 11
2 Emma Clark - RSA 30
3 Rita Montinho - ANG 45
Background photograph by Matias Capizzano