Cats Go Swimming

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By Lize Kubersky WALVIS BAY What does a cat, a laser and a fireball have in common? These are the names of the types of boats that went sailing on the Atlantic Ocean from December 16 to 26. Hobie Cats or Catamarans are multi-hull boats and Lasers and Fireballs are mono-hull boats which all form part of the boats included in the Namibian Sailing Association classes. With organizations like the Namibian Sailing Association, Nomads and Walvis Bay Yacht Club, including Mattheus Rottcher, Managing Director of Ground Rush (sky diving) as the organizers of the festive races, which included the Bell Buoy, Class and Off Shore race, it proved to be a sport for all ages, for those who share enthusiasm for cutting through the waves. Competitors ranged from 13-year-old Jason Davidson to a 60-year-old pair from Botswana. With skipper’s fee at N$50 and crew fee at N$20, the races were registered by the NSA, which included a briefing of the racing rules for 2005 – 2008 of the International Sailing Federation. Regulations included the traditional starting method as the Off Shore started with the 10-minute countdown, where at six minutes a white flag goes up. At four minutes the flag comes down. At two minutes a blue flag goes up and at one minute it retires and the race starts. The 30 km trip from Walvis Bay to Swakopmund was tackled with only the wind as the force of movement. Sailors were adamant to stick to the route and clear indicators included orange buoys, and landmarks on the shore such as Long Beach and the Guano Island. Youngsters Jurgen Gladis and Lisa Weyland took the cup as they finished in golden position with a time of two hours and five minutes. ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚  ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚  Pieter Davidson, Commodore of the Nomads, a sailing organization in Windhoek, says that he has been sailing for 18 years. He explains that the Nomads promote sailing in Windhoek and introduce it as a sport and social event. Races usually commence during the April, May and August holidays. These races also cater as training courses to better sailing techniques and experience in the sport. “When I moved to Namibia from Port Elizabeth I was pleasantly surprised by the contributing conditions Namibia has for sailing. “Usually to start sailing, N$70 000 is required just to get equipped with the kit. This is in order to start brand new which includes a boat,ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ safety equipment and wardrobe. Second-hand also does the trick and it is much more affordable at N$10 000.” Boats are bought in Cape Town as the Cape offers the best ranges in hull boats. Botswana sailors showed their support for the favourable sailing conditions in Namibia as five families shared the experience of the Bell Buoy, Class and the Off shore race. Helmut Gladis, previous Commodore of the Nomads elaborates on the need for young blood in the sport. “What is visible is that the sport requires parental input and that the younger the children who are involved the better their exposure to the sport. Most skippers prefer their offspring as crew, because it gives a chance to sculpt technique in an intimate way.” Gladis further explained: “Pieter Muller, a member of the Nomads shows fierce commitment in advancing the understanding and evolving of the sport. With training, via boy scouts and girl guides with trips on the Avis dam, he initiates a sense of responsible sporting mindset.” With Namibia being put on the calendar as one of the legs of the Speed Weeks, due to the consistent winds in direction and speed this proves international accreditation. Sponsors of the races included Hemco Paints, Omina Supplies, Schoeman and Jurgen Geiger, President of the Namibian Sailing Association (NSA).