The first ever 470 Class Open African Championships got underway in Cape Town on Tuesday and will run until 17 January 2016.
Hosted by South African Sailing and the International 470 Class Association, the Championships will also mark the 470 Men’s African Continental Olympic Qualification Event for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
SA’s Olympians, Roger Hudson and Asenathi Jim, have been campaigning long and hard for the Rio Olympics. While their main training base has been local, all Olympic qualifying 470 class regattas have been held outside of Africa, until now.
There will be one qualification place awarded to an African nation, and with South Africa already qualified to Rio 2016, the continent looks forward to welcoming a second African nation to the starting line at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The 470 Class Open African Championships is open to African teams as well as beyond Africa, with both men’s and women’s teams invited to compete.
Part of raising the profile of sailing in Africa, and particularly South Africa, is to host an Olympic Qualifying regatta. The inaugural 470 Class Open African Championships and Rio 2016 Men’s African Continental Olympic Qualification event taking place in Cape Town from 11 – 17 January 2016 at Granger Bay, just outside the Waterfront, Cape Town.
Philip Baum, President of South African Sailing, has been a key proponent in enabling and supporting the holding of the first ever Olympic Continental Qualification Event in South Africa and first ever 470 African Championships.
“This is the first time ever that a World Sailing event is being held in South Africa and only the second time such a regatta is being held in Africa. These are exciting times for the African continent!” said Baum.
“Olympic competition requires representation on all six continents. The allocation of a specific Olympic slot to each Continent to ensure as complete a global footprint as possible in Rio 2016 will be a significant spur to growing our sport in Africa.
“The special opportunity of hosting no fewer than five of the Olympic qualifiers on African waters is being capitalised on to highlight the sport to our government partners, national Olympic bodies, our sailors and hugely important to the people of our continent. The support and understanding of all these stakeholders is vital for the growth, development and transformation of our sport,” added Baum.
As part of the focus on sailing in Africa in the build-up to this first ever 470 African Championships, an ISAF Measurers’ Clinic was held in Cape Town on 9-10 January 2016.
Led by Clinic Instructor and 470 Class Measurer, Jurgen Cluytmans (Belgium), the clinic focused on sharing best practice, along with a mix of theory and practical sessions.
Participants from nations competing in the 470 African Championships were expected to take part.
The objective of the clinic was to train local measurers, so as to have local officials taking care of event management. Long term, the aim is to identify candidates who can become ISAF International Measurers for the classes that are sailed in the continent, such as Optimist, Laser, 420 and 470 as well as other classes.
The Western Cape Provincial Government Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport kindly sponsored a R30,000.00 grant towards covering the costs for running the event.
– The Citizen
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