I was my intention to do this newsletter on a monthly basis but so many things have been happening that I have decided to do Feb & March together.
The first & most important news is about our Dabchick Nationals. Part of the history lesson I have had recently is that the Junior Nationals were only the Dabchick Nationals until the Dabchick Class invited the Optimists to join them. Since then it has been the Optimist and Dabchick Class. Over the years there have been various attempts to include other classes and this year a determined attempt was made on the organizers to include the Laser Radial and 4.7 Nationals with the Dabchick Nationals. I don’t know where all these Laser sailors are though, because out of all the kids that have applied in the Laser classes to go to the ISAF Youth Worlds, all but one are Dabbie sailors! I had made a request in December to Roger Bartholomew, the chairman, that the Hermanus Nationals 2004 be Dabchick and Oppie only as we had requested at our AGM
The other thread of this story is that the Laser sailors in the Vaal were also concerned that their Laser Nationals may turn out to be only part of the Nationals with the rest happening at Hermanus in December.
Over the last few weeks your representatives and many influential sailors within SAS have made representations to the organizing committee, culminating with the snap ballot that you saw which confirmed that to a man, the paid up Dabchick class wished to stick to the Dabchick and Optimist formula. Down under in Capetown the process had gone too far and I think too many promises made for them to withdraw completely so what we have is an Optimist & Dabchick Nationals with a separate course for an open class, members of which can have a separate start if they have more than 10 entries of one class. I think that the Dabchick class has an enormous debt of gratitude due to Mrs. Colleen Fitzsimons, who as our reluctant representative in the Cape took all the flack and fought for us in the various committees. It was not a job that Colleen wanted but she gave it her all and just as well because we needed all the clout we could get at the local level.
Next year, now that we know that the forces within SAS are behind us on this one, we will be able to have our Dabchick and Optimist Nationals without the worry of other classes splitting our fleet. During this period I have heard the idea mooted on a few occasions that there should be a specific “Youth Nationals” held which would solve many of the problems wrapped up in this perennial problem. Perhaps next year would be a good time to look at the concept.
The issue also turned up two unexpected facts. The first is that the laser 4.7 was turned down by SAS last February as a National class. That appears to be a simple paperwork problem made more difficult by the Laser association having rules set by their International ruling committee. The second, and much more interesting, is that Brazil and France, countries with large and government financed youth programs, have discontinued using the Laser 4.7 as a youth boat as they feel it is unsuitable, probably because of the shear size and mass of the hull. Personally, I am very impressed with the little 4.7 sail Harry Ellens has cut for us. It sails much more like a full sail than the radial. However, even my 14 year old daughter thinks that you have to be a bit wussy to want to go out with such a tiny sail and as we know being seen as wussy is the kiss of death for a junior class. Probably a better bet would be the ladies Olympic boat the Europe at 43kg but the last thing RSA needs is another class. The fiberglass Dabbie that Keith Ribbink is turning out should be the boat for kids who are too small for a Laser and who want a low maintenance boat.
I have attached the 2003 minutes from Wriggleswade. Please have a look at them & raise any issues now so that we can have them in the public domain before Hermanus.
One of our recent decisions was to have the Dabchick class membership year run from July to June. That has led to three problems. The first is that the ladies taking entries at Wriggleswade were very confused, the second is that SAS didn’t know where to allocate which monies, and according to our SAS update we had 46 kids sailing Nationals with 12 paid up members. I have had a word with Denise Sewell who thinks we can sort this out at the SAS end. The Western province will still be unclear but after July you will have to produce a class membership card endorsed 2004/5. Make sure when you renew after June you get a card endorsed 2004/5.
The last update of the year championships will be done after the WP provincials. Once again Colleen Fitzsimons has volunteered to step into the breach and do the computer work. Then we will dish out the last of the BIG CASH PRIZES. Looks like Bridget is going to collect again BIG TIME as the overall year champ! To refresh your memory, it works like the Oppie selection system, two best provincials and the Nationals. The prizes for 2003/4 and 2004/5are:
The OFS provincials at Sterkfontein went back to the usual windy conditions. We had 20 Dabbies, 21 Oppies & 10 505’s. The wind blew 14-16 knots all day and we were all knackered at the end but with fantastic memories of screaming spinnaker reaches! The only problem with Sterkfontein is that we have to cart everything in & that it is so deep. The marks need 200m of anchor chain. If Peter Clayton writes a report it will probably be in the next “Sailing” magazine.
Once again I see that canvassing has started for the dates of the 2005 Dabbie & Oppie Nationals. This is a decision for the Natal organizers to make, but I am sure they will wish to know what the two classes want. If you have a preference before or after Xmas please let me know in an e-mail so that I can log them for when the time comes.
Ian Hogg 16/2/2004
Dr Ian Hogg (BDS Edin)
Sunningdale Medical Centre, Durban North
PO Box 3267, Sunningdale Cluster 1, Dbn North 4051
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