In 2002 an 11 year old boy from the town of Fort Beaufort – Asenathi Jim – experienced sailing on a Bosun for the first time in Simonstown whilst attending the Isivunguvungu sailing school. Jim was on holiday visiting his mother who worked in Cape Town and, despite not being able to swim, was hooked on the sport.
Asenathi Jim spent his formative years in Fort Beaufort with his grandfather and returned to Cape Town permanently in 2003 to pursue his new love of sailing.
“I just loved being in the ocean. I didn’t care that I couldn’t swim at the time,” says Jim, who is known as Squirrel.
Jim asked his mother to stay on at Red Hill township near Simonstown, and she agreed.
Jim credited Roger and his team-mates’ father, Dave Hudson, a 1992 Olympic sailor, and former Olympian sailor Ian Ainslie among the “experienced sailors around me” who nurtured and showed him the way around the sea in a boat.
“I met Roger when I was coming through the ranks at the Izivunguvungu Sailing School.”
The sailing development centre is based in the port town of Simon’s Town and provides activities, educational assistance and adventure opportunities to disadvantaged youth as part of a community-development programme.
It was established in 2001 by Ainslie and Matthew Mentz, a highly qualified ocean skipper and instructor.
“This sport offers an amazing experience but it needs determination and sacrifices to succeed because it can be harsh sometimes,” said Jim, a father to a two-year-old boy.
Jim’s first international regatta was the 2010 Youth World Championships sailed in Istanbul, Turkey. He sailed in a 420 along with crew Ashwynn Daniels and secured a credible 9th place in a fleet of 36 international sailors.
In 2010 Jim received an award as SA Sailing Magazine’s South African Sailor of the Year.
Struggling with his education Jim dropped out of school and told Hudson that his dream was to sail in the Olympics. With 18 months to prepare a frantic sailing schedule was prepared and Hudson and Jim sailed in 20 events around the world. Their perseverance and sacrifice paid off as they qualified at the 470 World Championships in Spain making Jim, at the tender age of 20, one the youngest helmsmen in the Olympic field of 27.
At the time Roger Hudson said; “I believe Asenathi can win a medal in the future, at 2016 or 2020.”
The 470 duo of Jim and Hudson won their first major international regatta in 2014, taking the Gold Medal at the 2014 Delta Lloyd regatta which was the 2nd event of the 2014 European Sailing Federation’s Champions Cup circuit. Their win was a historical first for a South African sailing team.
In June 2015 Asenathi Jim, Roger Hudson, Alex Burger and Taariq Jacobs sailed in the SB20 Worlds on Lake Garda, Italy. In a nail biting series the team sailing on ‘Race Ahead – Spirit of Cape Town‘ at one stage led the fleet and finished fourth after 14 races in a highly competitive 92 boat fleet.
In February 2016 Roger and Asenathi stamped their claim to potential Olympic greatness with a historic first win in the fourth race during the 470 World Championships in Argentina sailing against 41 other teams. They were placed 11th overall after 10 races.
“We have been together for five years as a team and have done nearly 100 Olympic events in the circuit. Our goal for Rio is to be in the final,” said Hudson.
Chairman of SA Sailing, Peter Hall was equally thrilled with Jim and Hudson’s performance, bringing to three the number of SA sailors to have qualified after Laser sailor Stefano Marcia also booked a spot for Rio earlier this year. “We are very happy to congratulate Roger Hudson and Asenathi Jim for qualifying South Africa for the 470 Class at the 2016 Rio Olympics,” he said. “This is a huge achievement and will be the second time that they have qualified the country following their attendance at the London 2012 Olympics. “Subject to approval from SASCOC, South Africa will have representation at the Laser and 470 at the Rio Olympics. All our support now turns to the 49er team of Graeme Willcox and Andrew Tarboton who have the final Olympic selection event at the 49er World Championships from 16 to 21 November.”