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6 April 2003, 08:49 am
Cullman Wins
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African Optimist Championship
Port Elizabeth

Cam Cullman of the USA has won the 2003 African Optimist Sailing Championships, here at Algoa Bay Yacht Club. Cam put in another performance on the last day of fleet racing to open up the points gap at the top of the table, from Aaron Larkens (RSA).
Cam carded a second and two firsts on Saturday to finish 26 points ahead of Aaron who had a dissapointing day by comparison to his results of prior days. Over the regatta as a whole, Cam had 5 firsts and was in the top five positions in 11 of the 15 races. He has not been outside of the top 5 in any race since Tuesday.

The day's other race winner was Brett Stirk of South Africa, who finished in fourth place overall, 16 points behind Aaron. Rudy McNeill had another good day on the water and moved up into third place overall, 10 points behind Larkens.

Thomas Fink from the USA is fifth overall. He, like Aaron, had a less successful day by his own standards, still finishing all three races in the top ten, but none the less dropping back two positions from his overall third position at the end of Friday.

The wind overnight had swung towards the East and came through strongly. Upon arriving at the yacht club, the wind was blowing at 28 knots with rough seas. Sailing was postponed for a decision by 11am. By this stage the wind had begun to subside and a decision was made to go out. All three of the remaining races were sailed in a moderate to fresh Easterly wind and with a large swell running with the occasional breaking wave. Racing started in around 18 knots of wind which built steadily into the mid twenties during the course of the three races.

Morgan Wilson of the USA finished in 6th place overall and is first girl in the Championships. Saturday's performances edged a fourth American into the top 10, the other 6 all being South Africans. America's Eliza Richartz took over 10th position overall and is second girl, followed by Phillipa Baer of South Africa.

The best performing sailor outside of the USA and South African fleets is Hamza Lboukili of Morocco who finished in 11th place overall. Next best were Islam Benhadj of Algeria in 16th position and Dina Ramadan of Egypt in 17th.

Th conditions over the course of the week have certainly not been easy, with vastly different sailing conditions on almost every day. This has certainly tested the skills of each of the 54 competitors. Kenya and Uganda in particular have relatively young and less experienced sailors, and the regatta provded an excellent chance for these sailors to get some big regatta experience. Although strong winds and high seas sometimes took their toll, it was really encouraging to see the spirit and determination of these newer sailors and which was rewarded on occasion with a good result. Christopher Childs of Kenya had a 7th in the second last race, while Lars Garvey also had a 7th on the second day.

On Sunday, the focus changes to international team racing with two teams of four boats each sailing against each other at a time, on a round-robin basis. The closing ceremony and prizegiving takes place thereafter, at 18h00 at the club.

Full results are available on the event website at the address below
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