After a sailing season of cancellations, it was encouraging to see a strong fleet of 20 boats compete in the 2021 Hobie Tiger Nationals held in Langebaan from 18-21 March.
The old guard still ranked well in the results, although some strong competition from the younger sailors kept them on their toes.
Duncan Ross gives us a run-down of events.
The perfect venue
Langebaan Lagoon is arguably South Africa’s premier Sailing destination and after the 2020 event was cancelled at short notice due to the Covid Pandemic, energy and enthusiasm amongst the competitors and organisation was palpable. Everyone was rearing to go and return to some form of “normality”.
Competitors travelled from all corners of the country and the best catamaran sailors in the country were out to grab the title. South Africa has a rich and stellar track record when it comes to Hobie Sailing and the fleet boasted an accumulated 6 World Championship Titles. This was going to be a hotly contested event!
The first dished up a 10 knot North Westerly and 4 races were held. The racecourse was a tactical one in the shifty breeze and staying in phase was key. Defending champions Blaine Dodds and Andrew Ward racked up an impressive 3 firsts and a 4th making it clear they were there to retain the tile. The father and son team of William and Douglas Edwards (ex-Tiger World Champions) however, were not far behind and were not going to give them an easy ride.
A building Southerly breeze led to an early start at 9 am. Race officer, Doug Alison did a great job to get 3 races in, and all the boats back to the beach before it became un-sailable. The Edwards duo put in a strong performance with 2 bullets and a second for the day. Team Dodds/Ward blew a spinnaker in race 2 and had to return to the beach to change it out, making it back for the last race of the day to take the win in the last race. At the end of Day 2 – there was just a single point separation between these two teams. A close battle was developing between the next 4 boats with Paul Lagesse/Dylan Albert, Shaun Ferry/Murray Wilcock, Garth Loudon/John van der Vyver and Duncan Ross/Hein De Jamaer all within a 10 points band.
With a forecast of more than 25 knots, another early start managed to allow for a single race. Dodds/Ward took the bullet, team Edwards came second and Ross/De Jamaer third.
A perfect 14 to 18 knot building Southerly breeze led to 4 races being scheduled. Team Dodds/Ward continued their dominant performance with a 1 and 2 in the first two races, but after being called OCS in race 3 they had to remain on their toes and finish the event conservatively to win. Team Edwards remained in contention to the end with a bullet in race 2 of the day. Ross/De Jamaer found their mojo to finish their event with a 2nd and first in the last 2 races to end tied with Ferry/Willcocks. Paul Lagesse and Dylan Albert were always in the mix, but suffered unfortunate gear failure to finish 6th. A consistent performance by Loudon/Van der Vyver discarding 2 x 6th positions finished in 5th.
The early race starts meant that on shore there was plenty of opportunity for sailors to connect and enjoy the Hobie way of life.
The event was well supported by the main sponsor CROCS as well as local business’s like Pearly’s, Friday Island, Wunderbar, Hobie Cape, Langebaan Spar, Black Eagle Brewery and Langebaan Yacht Club. Thanks as well should go to Seaport Supply, High Constantia, GIMCO and Ullman Sails who, even in these tough times, contributed to a make for a successful event.
Blaine Dodds/Andrew Ward 20 pts
William and Doug Edwards 23 pts
Duncan Ross/Hein De Jamaer 35 pts
Shaun Ferry/Murray Willcocks 35 pts
Garth Loudon/Johnny Van der Vyver 42 pts
Paul Lagesse/Dylan Albert 44 pt
Pictures by Roger Lagesse and Louise du Plessis
article from Sail+Leisure South Africa