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SA crew’s lessons

By Mark Etheridge

Our sailing duo’s voyage to possible Olympic competition in London later this year is still on course after some more tough competition in North America.

Sailing in the 470 Class, Cape Town’s Roger Hudson and Asenathi Jim ended 42nd out of 80 competitors at the recent ISAF World Championships in Perth, Australia.

Their final shot at qualifying will come in May when the remaining eight spots up for grabs at the Games will be allocated.

To this end, Hudson and Jim journeyed to Miami recently where they took part in two competitions between which a training camp was sandwiched.

There’s no doubting it was a challenging trip but something which will stand the sailors in good stead on their qualifying trail. Main reason for going west to Miami were the light wind conditions that the Florida area is famous for.

“It was tough but extremely good for us,” says Hudson. “We wanted to improve our skills and speed in those conditions because being from Cape Town our strengths lie more in breezy conditions.

“It’s imperative that we improve the areas where we’re relatively weaker so Miami was a great opportunity.”

Of course things didn’t help when the airline lost their bags with equipment, kit and sails for three days. “The trip seemed a little jinxed for us and our preparations for North American Championships and also caused us to miss the first day of racing. Once we got on the water, we managed to put in a few good races with a fifth and an 8th on day 2 but we tended to struggle to hold our positions when we were up.”

After the NAC event they embarked on a seven-day training camp. “That was with our Canadian training partners which was really useful,” said Hudson.

Then it was the Miami OCR (Olympic Classes Regatta) which is the second of the seven Olympic World Cup sailing events. On this occasion the two ended 17th out of 22, a small, but very competitive fleet and one that included six teams int eh top 10 and 10 of the 19 teams that have already qualified for the Olympics.

“The standout being a major crash with the USA team when we we’re lying in second in one of the races,” says Hudson. “Fortunately nobody was injured, but although the international jury found us to be in the right, we still lost our second place in the race as we were unable to finish due to the boats becoming locked together for more than 15 minutes. So we faced some real challenges but we got through and put in some quality training in the conditions that we most need to work on.

“Our biggest positive take-away from this event is that we improved our downwind technique and speed in the light, which saw us gain 15 places over the downwind legs in the first four races when the conditions were under 10 knots.”

The pair are now back in Cape Town putting in some hard training and conditioning during February. They’ll then move on to Palma, Spain to prepare for the European season during the month of March.