Southern Wind is proud to have been the title sponsor of this year’s edition of The Optimist African Championship, which was held in Langebaan Lagoon (near Cape Town) from 24th September to 1st October, attracting the largest number of participants in the last 10 years.
A total of 10 nations participated in the event, with teams from many African nations and beyond. Algeria, Angola, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, and Tanzania were the continental players, but we also had sailors coming from Antigua, Argentina, Australia, and Brazil. This was the largest Africans challenge ever with 66 competitors entered.
Southern Wind is proud to be supporting young sailors in their professional Optimist career. Optimist racing is for many the starting block to becoming a professional sailor, many landing, perhaps years later, in the Super Yacht circuit, the America’s Cup, the Olympics and more.
Among the event organizers, Stefan Falcon, head of Southern Wind Lamination Department since 2002. His enthusiasm in motivating and supporting the passion of young Optimist sailors is contagious, as he let us all know in his Championship closing speech:
“There are few boatyards in the world that specialize in the construction of sailing superyachts that range between 90’ and 120’. Southern Wind is the only one that builds in the Southern Hemisphere. So where is the connection between a super yacht and an Optimist? An Optimist hull weighs 35Kg and a SW hull could be as much as 10.000 Kg, with a complete SW yacht weighing approximately 60.000 Kg? You need to 1500 Optimists to reach the weight of one of our yachts. So, with such extreme difference in size, where is the common ground between you, the Optimist sailors and our yachts?
I believe it stands in the fact that sailing is really the only sport that becomes a lifestyle and has the potential to offer “direct employment”, working in a field that is also your passion.
We, as sailors, do not merely practice the sport of sailing, we ARE sailors because sailing is a completely self-encompassing sport. We sailors drive our cars looking for shifts in the traffic as if they were wind shifts, we approach the building corners or the end of the corridors as if they are mark turning points.
Sailing can therefore become a career as well as a way of life. Even if, like me, you are not a good sailor, and you will never become an Olympic sailor, you can still make a career out of sailing. You can become a sailmaker, or get a job as delivery crew, become Marina Manager, become a boatbuilder and so on.
Nowadays most sailors start on an Optimist, then move onto other bigger boats. While doing so people get on with their studies, get jobs, get on with life.
At SW we have many sailors employed and working with us as consultants. Some of them are technical staff, some are designers, some are boat builders, and most of them started out on an Optimist. Quite a few kids that I coached on Optimists over the years now sail on a SWS yacht, be it as staff or temporary crew, and they have kept in touch with me.
When a SWS yacht enters a regatta, somewhere between 20 and 30 people are required to sail it, and you can rest assured that no less than half of them will have an Optimist background.
I would like you to cherish the memories of this championship, the people you met and will undoubtedly meet again at future Laser or 420 regattas somewhere in the world. I hope that when you will be find yourself walking down a jetty in Sydney, or Antigua, or Mar del Plata and you see a SW yacht you will stop by and say hi. Greet the Crew, speak to the Captain, and let them know that you were here at the SWS Optimist African Championship, and maybe you will find out that that Captain sailed an Optimist long before you did”.
The Southern Wind team wishes to congratulate each of the participants and is looking forward to meeting them in person, wishing them well in their future professional or sailing career!