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7 March 2008, 03:11 pm
No Results On Fourth Day At Hobie Tiger And Dragoon Worlds
The Hobie Dragoon fleet enjoying life off the water
The Hobie Dragoon fleet enjoying life off the water

Hobie Tiger and third Hobie Dragoon World Championships 2008
Langebaan, South Africa

The fourth day of the Hobie Tiger and Hobie Dragoon Worlds 2008 ended with no official results.
The Langebaan Lagoon looked flat this morning and the sun was bright. The Dragoon kids played for hours on the beach and in the water. The Tiger sailors discussed their tactics, played cards or had a massage. The breeze picked up a little bit at noon and half a hour later the race committee decided to give it a try, but the catamarans were still floating. Racing was cancelled at about 14:00. On the way back inshore, the wind became strong enough to start a long distance race that does not count for the overall results. Unfortunately, thick fog came up and the race committee had to abandon the battle halfway the scenery course.

At the briefing, Colin WHITEHEAD told the competitors that there were 'no rules' for the long distance race. The Olympic duo Carolijn BROUWER (BEL) and Darren BUNDOCK (AUS) interpreted that notification pretty literally and started a few seconds earlier.

BROUWER said afterwards, while taking down the jib, "I think we were a bit early, but they said there were no rules."

The start looked spectacular from the Langebaan beach. The Dragoons were already beating up, as the Tigers lined up with the national park in the background. After the signal they headed for the gate at the Langebaan Yacht Club. Not everybody actually.

WHITEHEAD said, "The Olympians obviously didn't know the course, because they missed the gate."

BROUWER retorted, with a confident smile, "They said there were no rules."

That is how Gerard LOOS from the Netherlands lost his leading position: "I tacked to go through the gate and all of a sudden I saw five boats in front of me. They simply passed it." After the top mark, the fleet hoisted the kites and went back to a buoy close to Langebaan beach, from where they had to do another lap. According to WHITEHEAD, the 'Champion of the Race' would be the first at the bar on Kraal Beach in another gorgeous bay. Unfortunately, fog came up rapidly and the sailors were sent back inshore.

South African Hobie Cat Youth Sailing

About a year ago, the South African youngsters started sailing the Hobie Dragoons. Two national youth programmes were set up. One on the West Coast, called the Hobie Cat Youth Club.

WHITEHEAD explained, "This is a non-profit organization. Six parents bought a Hobie Dragoon and donated their boats to the school. They became shareholders of the Hobie Cat Youth Club." Tracy WHITEHEAD was announced as Managing Director, which means that she runs the organization of the Dragoons. WHITEHEAD explained, "There are 12 courses a year and they take four days. We have three levels: beginners, intermediate and advanced. Two out of 12 to 14 kids per course are Previously Disadvantaged Individuals [PDI], so they don't have to pay a fee." Over the past year, 72 children learned how to sail a multihull in the Langebaan Lagoon.

The other South African school operates under the name of Gauteng Hobie Cat Association Youth Club. They also have six Hobie Dragoons. Belinda HAYWARD (RSA), multiple medallist at the Hobie 16 Women Worlds, trains the Gauteng youth with great enthusiasm.

"Watching these guys is even more rewarding than sailing myself. I do give a beginners course once in a while, but I concentrate on my six teams to get them on Worlds standard. They have come a long way, but they all made it to the top ten at the nationals," said HAYWARD.

Ewald ERASMUS and Riccardo SUTTNER-SCALCO (RSA) became the 2008 Hobie Dragoon Champions of South Africa. Matt WHITEHEAD and Megan DU PLESSIS (RSA) won silver, but are leading the Worlds at the moment. Thanks to both initiatives, the South African Hobie Dragoon fleet has grown from zero to 17 competing teams.

The weather forecast for Friday looks more promising. The breeze should pick up again.

The Hobie Tiger & Hobie Dragoon Worlds 2008 are sponsored by Southey, Airport City, Seiko and Coca Cola with Langebaan Yacht Club as the event host.

Results - click here
Hobie Tiger and Hobie Dragoon World Championships - click here

Diana Bogaards
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