Head-to-head battles out on the water are set to become the latest trend in corporate events with the launch of the new SA Sailing Team Sailing League. School and varsity showdowns and women’s challenges are on the cards with inter-club competitions also part of the package.
This is the latest move from SA Sailing to appeal to a wider audience and showcase the sport to those who may never have had the opportunity to experience the thrill of sailing before.
“This new Team Sailing League (TSL) has the potential to boost the number of sailors in South Africa, to transform the sport and make sailing accessible to all South Africans and that’s a very exciting prospect,” said SA Sailing Chairman Peter Hall.
SA Sailing CEO Greg Smith added: “The TSL is a team sailing league where two teams of three boats compete against each other in equally matched two-person sailing boats.
“This programme has been developed to grow the sport of sailing and reintroduce the magic into the sport for both new and existing sailors by introducing the element of competition.”
The League will be launched at an exhibition event at Milnerton Aquatic Club on 9 September. Anyone keen to find out what it’s all about is encouraged to join in the fun as different groups will go head to head in a demonstration of what can be expected. There’ll also be a chance for the public to rub shoulders with the country’s top sailors as they show how it’s done.
The TSL will essentially be split into four tournaments: a Youth Team Sailing League, an Inter-club Sailing League, a Corporate Challenge and a Women’s Sailing League – targeting specifically identified areas in which the sport can expand and develop.
“All events will encourage teams of diversity and would result in a national league table for schools, varsities and colleges, clubs, corporates and women, through which we can market the sport on various platforms,” explained Smith.
Enabling sailing for life across all sailing disciplines for all South Africans
With the financial backing of the National Lotteries Commission, SA Sailing have already commissioned the building of 28 boats – a customised version of the well-known 420 dinghy, which is easy and fun to sail and maintain and affordable but robust.
Operators in each of the major sailing regions in the country (KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Region, Eastern Cape and the Western Cape) will be allocated seven boats each (two teams of three with a spare in case of damage during tournaments).
The tournaments will be run over an afternoon with all boats being provided.
“The events will be held in venues that are visible to the public, providing entertainment for both the competitors and their supporters. These tournaments can create energy, spectator participation and bring a social media and community flavour to sailing,” explained Hall.
“The ultimate aim with the TSL is to see a major contribution to the growth of sailing in this country through the introduction of regular new sailors to our sport, and to reignite the sailing fire in those sailors that have not been on the water for a while,” said Hall.
“Similar to all other programmes the success of this requires the support of all clubs, classes and sailors around the country. There is a lot we will learn in the journey but this certainly offers an exciting year ahead,” he added.
Nelson Mandela Bay, Algoa Bay Yacht Club Commodore, Alan Straton said; “As we move through this age of the millennials this sailing league will tick all the boxes as the league offers entry into the sport of sailing at a low cost whilst fulfilling the requirements of every millennial wanting an experience that can be showcased via social media. We are looking forward to seeing this league being battled out on local waters in Port Elizabeth which could include offshore in Algoa Bay, on the North End Lake, on the Redhouse river and within the Port of Port Elizabeth.”