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Yachties for US

Cape Town’s SA Olympic sailor Dominique Provoyeur and Durban’s Luke Wagner have qualified for the ISAF Nations Cup Grand Finale to be held at Sheboygan, Wisconsin on Lake Michigan in the United States in September this year after a fiercely contested four-day international match racing event held in Table Bay, Cape Town.

The ISAF Nations Cup Regional Final for Africa was hosted by Royal Cape Yacht Club and organised in conjunction with the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and the Women’s International Match Racing Association (WIMRA).

It is the first event of its kind ever held in South Africa in that it was a selection trial for women’s and men’s teams. Because there were no entries from other countries in Africa, the local event contested over four days became a selection for the South African teams that will represent the Africa region. It attracted three women’s sailing teams and two men’s teams from around the country and all racing was held in two similarly matched J22’s specially loaned for the event.

Crewing with Provoyeur was fellow Olympic sailor Penny Alison, Caitlin Moore and Louise Meek all of Cape Town. Crewing for Wagner was Byron Watt and Jean-Marc George all of whom were sponsored by Durban’s River View Manor and Point Yacht Club. They will represent the African region at the ISAF Nations Cup Grand Finale and compete against the winners from 8 other regions around the world.

Claire Walker of Underberg in KwaZulu Natal and her Seaport Supply sponsored crew Carla Dyer, Cathy Largier and Sarah Arnold were the runners up in the women’s division followed by skipper Shellee Nel of Germiston and her crew Joanne Cooper and Tamzin Gennissen. Ricky Robinson of Johannesburg and his crew William Crockett and Shayne Elliot were the runners up in the men’s division.

ÔÇ£It was great to have sailors from around the country competing and to have the support we did from umpires and bridge officials. Without them it wouldn’t have been possible to have run this event. What we are trying to do now is establish a South African national match racing tour and hold events like this in other regions as well,ÔÇØ said Provoyeur who skippered South Africa’s only sailing team at the Beijing Olympics and was largely responsible for organising the Cape Town match racing event.

The ISAF Nations Cup regional regatta was preceded by a threeÔÇôday Match Racing Clinic in Table Bay which was open to sailors and match racing umpires and run by international Women’s Match Racing Champion, Liz Baylis, who was in Cape Town from San Francisco specially for the event.

ÔÇ£It was fantastic to see the enthusiasm of the sailors, umpires and race officials for putting on an event like this for the first time in Africa. After the first clinic which I ran last October many in the local sailing community have embraced match racing and the momentum looks set to ensure many more successful events. South African sailors, as representatives of the African continent, are also in a good position to race on the highly active international match racing circuit and this is what they should work towards,ÔÇØ said Baylis.

The ISAF Nations Cup is a global competition to find the world’s top match racing nations in both open and women’s events and to develop match racing infrastructure around the world. The Nations Cup encompasses a series of eight Regional Finals from March to July 2011, from which the top team will qualify for the ISAF Nations Cup Grand Final, which will take place in Sheboygan, USA from 13-18 September 2011.