History of the class in South Africa

South Africa 1996

In Menorca, in 1993, we had indicated that South Africa might be interested to organise the 1996 Worlds and in 1994 we won the right to hold it (against Hungary). The venue was Club Mykonos in Langebaan and Nesquick the sponsor (Nesquick international was also the International Optimist sponsor at that time).

Mykonos and Nesquick were fantastic partners to work with. The only problem was the charterboat issue. The strict one-design ‘IOD95’ had been adopted in 1994 and we had found a South African builder to make the 170 boats we needed. Unfortunately, the finances of that deal did not work out for the builder: he would have to sell the vast majority of the boats outside the country after the regatta and he simply did not have the market to do so. Whilst there are several big Optimist builders now in 2010, that was different in 1995/6 when the IOD-95 was still a new concept: There were 3 or 4 small builders and 2 big ones.

In the end (and I mean the end: it was now February 1996), Winner Optimist from Denmark came to the rescue and offered us a workable deal. We had to pay for the shipping, but we found a shipping company to sponsor this.

The rest, as they say, is history: the regatta was very successful and we managed to make a profit which is still used in OCRA today.The RSA team consisted of John Eloff, Finn de Haan, Paul Willcox, Adam Swales and Jamie Waters. Rick Nankin was team leader and Michael Giles coach.

Report by Hans Thijsse

Photo sourced from the SAILING Mag Archives & Historical Records