Spioenkop Long-haul (this past weekend 1st , 2nd and 3rd December).

This annual event is well supported by the Amakati of Durban. Mike Wood and wife Lynn are ex Durban’ites and now long-time residents of Ladysmith. They are the only two Hobie sailors of the Spioenkop Dam Boat Club (mainly ski-boat members). Mike and Lynn are the Organisers and main Sponsors through their company Zorbatex (textile company specialising in towels) of this iconic event. The club’s ski-boat members get behind this event  doing all the cooking, the pub, manning ski-boat rescue craft and in general ensuring a brilliant event.

Competitors start arriving on late Friday to pitch tents around the many electrified lapas in the club grounds. Dinner on Friday night is a complimentary curry. Saturday evening is the lamb spit and every morning you get a bacon and egg breakfast roll.

Usually, the long-haul race starts on Saturday around 11:00 in a drifter. The race typically takes around 3-4 hours of sailing up the length of the dam, then about the same distance again up the meandering Tugela river, where the turning mark is placed. Usually, on the return trip the breeze comes up around 14:00 and its trapezing all the way home to the finish. Usually, you get a great tan during this event and provided beer along the route from the roaming “bar boats”.

The above is what usually happens. But this year it was very different! The wind blew 25 knots and more from midmorning. It blew so hard it picked up the dome tent of Gavin and Geetje Wadsworth, complete with all bedding and clothes and deposited the tent some 100m away! Racing was postponed until 13:30. At this time, the belief was that the wind was moderating and would lessen to a light breeze in the late afternoon.(It didn’t!!) The race started well after 13:30 and 19 of the 22 entered boats started. Five retired shortly after the start with 14 finishing the race, some taking a swim in the process.

RNYC sailors  dominated this event with the top 4 positions all RNYC Darts. 1st Rob Samways and breaking course record doing it in just over 1 hour 36 minutes (despite making two major course errors and sailing into wrong bays and loosing around 5-6 minutes overall.) 2nd Neil Wadsworth and Taine Steytler, 3rd Gavin and Geetje Wadsworth, 4th  Carl Zimmerman. The racing was hair raising at times and we all had brilliant “war stories” to tell after the event, well lubricated with beer and wine!

On Sunday we were all too “finished” to want to do any further sailing which is optional anyway. We got the prize giving done at 10:00. I was back at home to take a siesta by 12;45. This is a brilliant event and always a great social. Many thanks again to Mike Wood and his team for a brilliant weekend.


YouTube Video from Spioenkop Longhaul

Forthcoming Events:

Waterfront Catamaran Series: (Saturday 16th December at 14:00)

The next scheduled sailing in this series is next week Saturday 16th December starting at 14:00. Racing will be conducted in the Esplanade Channel with start and finish from the Committee Boat. As the skipper is the entered entity, we permit you to choose which catamaran design and/or crew configuration you wish to sail. If different from the last event, you need to state by the preceding Monday your choice.

We aim to sail at least 3 Windward/Leeward races of around 45 minutes each.

Woza Friday: (Friday 22nd December starting at 16:30)

Depending on wind direction, we will either have a shore start, or water based start from Committee Boat. This will be the last official catamaran event for this calendar year. Phil Downing will be planning the entertainment side of this and I’m sure in will involve something along the lines of: Santa, wine, food as part of your entry fee and much music and off-key singing!

Zinkwazi Catamaran World Championship: (We are currently planning this fun event for late January 2018)

Brad Rayson’s latest project is doing up his “Kingfisher Resort” at Zinkwazi overlooking the lagoon. The idea is we will get free camping and enjoy the recently revamped resort with modernised ablutions, chalets, camping area, restaurant and pubs, at the same time enjoying  some sailing in the lagoon and be part of a wonderful back drop. It is an event for all family members, not just the sailors, as there is plenty to do at this venue. The lagoon is definitely long enough, just about wide enough and around 1.2m deep. It will definitely suit beach catamarans for fun racing.

All the fine details and final event title still need to be finalised, but I’m giving you all a “heads up” to diarise this event. Make plans now to be there. It is envisaged the following will likely happen:

We arrive on the Friday and set up camp like we do at Spioenkop. Racing on Saturday 27 – Sunday 28 January 2018. (A fun event).

Racing to start around 10:00 on Saturday with 4 races max. Sunday 2 Races and prize giving at 12:00.

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