A dream that is inspired by the hard work that our worthy ABYC prize winners and provincial colours recipients have put in to our sport of sailing.
My dream is a simple one and that is to see an ABYC sailor in the Olympics.
Who knows maybe one of our young 2016 prize winners will take part in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where the sailing will take place at Enoshima.
A little known fact is that we in the Eastern Cape can boast of a sailor who is about to sail in the Olympics for the second time in Rio De Janeiro at the helm of a 470 dinghy. 26 year old Asenathi Jim started sailing at the age of 11 and this year will sail with long time sailing partner, Roger Hudson, and they have a real shot at a medal. Jim last sailed in Algoa Bay during the Mirror World Champs hosted by ABYC in 2007.
Closer to home we have some stirring examples of sailors who have gained worldwide fame.
Sidwell, Port Elizabeth born Bertie Reed gained international fame whilst sailing for the Navy and Solo around the World. Have a look at the image in the ABYC foyer downstairs commemorating Bertie’s famous rescue of fellow solo sailor, John Martin in the 1990 BOC Solo Around the World Challenge.
Glynnis always reminds me of that one famous year when Bertie sailed the Port Elizabeth to East London race on Voortrekker. The fleet left the Port of Port Elizabeth in very strong winds and shortened sail but not Bertie whose first spinnaker was blown out, then the second and then the much smaller one was finally the one that secured him the record for that trip.
Even closer to home we have sailors who have competed in World Championships, gained South African colours and who continue to campaign and represent Sailing.
Our very own Andrew Ward started his sailing in an Optimist and went on to sail in Optimist Worlds. His foray back into sailing on the Hobie 16 with wife, Angela has resulted in the two being invited to represent South Africa at The Hobie Cat World in August 2016. This event brings the 10 best Hobie 16 teams in the WORLD together to a regatta on the popular island of Sylt in Germany.
Another Springbok sailor who cut his sailing teeth in Port Elizabeth is Michael Giles who received South African Sailing Colours after the 1995 Laser World Champs and again after the 1996 Laser World Champs. Michael went on to form part of the South African team that sailed in the America’s Cup – Team Shosholoza.
Gordon Webber’s son Murray – also from these waters – gained Springbok Colours for his double handed Round Britain achievement with John Martin.
Even closer to home we have the following ABYC sailors that have gained National Colours: Rob Archibald, Steve Arnold, Simon Baer, Jonathan Baer, Philipa Baer, Tony Bailes and John McGillivray.
Our sailors campaign all over the world and fly the flag of ABYC and Nelson Mandela Bay high.
Every international regatta we hold in our waters and host as a club comes in for accolades and return visits from sailors blown away by our conditions and hospitality. And no-one has ever said that better than The President of the International Mirror Class Association, Patrick Blaney, who said; “In my years involved, I have been to many great clubs, seen some great racing and participated in some fantastic events, ABYC has now joined that elite group with perhaps the best combination of location, sailing (wind and water) and club spirit that I have ever witnessed.”
I want to share with you what the 2015 5O5 World Champion, Mike Holt, wrote to ABYC after his return home to the USA; “I wanted to write to you all to thank you personally for your friendliness, helpfulness and all round great job in running the 5O5 Worlds. Carl and I had a fantastic time both afloat and ashore and the Yacht Club’s part in that was huge. From the moment we arrived until we left we could not have been better looked after. I know that all the sailors shared my views and also had a great time and will return to their homes with stories that will ensure that it will not be long until we return!”
What is significant about the note is that it was HANDWRITTEN and posted PLUS it is well known that Mike was reluctant to return to South Africa after a disastrous 1994 Worlds. Just goes to show what ambassadors we as club members and sailors are to the rest of the world.
As a club and a city we are proud of our sailing ambassadors who continue to exemplify all that is best in our sport and our country and wish to throw out a simple challenge; “Dedication, sacrifice and hard work bring reward. Who is going to bring their A Game and make it to the Olympics?”