Port Elizabeth’s North End Lake was the venue for a sailing World First on Saturday 26 April 2014 when 37 sailing dinghies took to the water for the very first ever interclub sailing regatta to be held on this inner city lake in the shadow of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium with sailing taking place along the shores of industry and the suburb of Sydenham.
A South West wind over the kidney shaped lake presented an interesting course setting conundrum for Race Officer, Ronnie Baer who settled for a four mark course with a short beat from the Stadium side up to the Coca Cola Factory, followed by a short downwind run, a reach along the Sydenham shore past the Zports offices, another beat up to the mark off of Aspen followed by a long run down to the bottom mark off of the stadium. A rinse and repeat and the fleet finished the 40 minute course.
Two races were sailed and the fleet sent home before the rising wind topped 30 knots on the water with a few capsizes leading to excitement on the water as rescue boats stood by sailors. Interested spectators, dotted alongside the shore, yelled encouragement to the sailors as they battled home.
Before the first race started Nelson Mandela Bay Councillor, Marion Harning presented Algoa Bay Yacht Club Member, Georgou Divaris, with his South African Sailing Colours which he was awarded for a number of significant sailing achievements – Georgou won the Laser 4.7 National Sailing Championships, he took the Gold Medal at the RS Tera World Championships and he achieved a Bronze Medal at the African Optimist Sailing Championships.
Divaris, who is resident in Knysna and coached by Algoa Bay Yacht Club’s, Ronnie Baer, also recently won the School Sportsman of the Year 2013 award presented by the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS).
Councillor Harning handed Divaris his SAS Colours at the race headquarters situated in the EP Powerboat Club, Prince Alfred Road, on the shores of North End Lake.
Sailing conditions on the lake present some interesting challenges with the surrounding industry creating very non typical wind shifts, as Hobie sailor Rob Archibald, sailing with his son Blaine, said; “Coming up to the top mark I could see that under normal circumstances out at sea we would have had to tack twice to make the mark but it was almost as if the wind bent to give us a lift out of nowhere and shoot us around!”
11 classes of boat are sailing and they have been split into three fleets with two starts for each race. Scoring is done to a Portsmith Handicap which allows for the different boat sizes to be scored equally to determine an eventual winner.
Provisional Results after two races:
Fleet one comprise the two Hobie 16 catamarans with Andrew and Claudia Ward leading with two bullets after two races.
Fleet two comprise the larger and quicker boats including Lasers, Finns and Sprogs and the top 3 places are:
- Georgou Divaris – Laser 4.7
- Charlie Hills – Laser Radial
- Tim Jones – Laser
In Fleet three we have the Optimists, Mirrors, O9er’s and one RS Tera Sport:
- Chad Bilsbury – Optimist
- Charl Hoogendoorn – Optimist
- Carel Hoogendoorn – Mirror
Racing continues on Sunday 27 April and finishes on Monday 28 April 2014.
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