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Winter sailing festival at GB

If you have ever been interested in seeing sailboat racing as a spectator, this weekend the Gordon’s Bay Yacht Club (GBYC) will be hosting its Winter Club Festival with an action-packed programme of keelboat sailing.

A total of 13 yachts have entered, and will race eight races around the buoys in Gordon’s Bay on Saturday 19 June and Sunday 20 June. Among the entries are two Stellenbosch locals, Mark Smeddle and Barry Ross.

Smeddle will skipper the Dix-designed Caribbea 30 cruiser Plain Sailing, and will be looking for a strong result after a year of limited sailing opportunities. Ross has entered his frequently-campaigned Lavranos Holiday 23, Zia, and will be looking to have the little coastal cruiser punch above her weight after a mixed bag of club-level results this year.

Other entries include a wide range of yacht designs, from the 6,1 m racer Time Out, to the 11,3 m bluewater cruiser Libre. While the overall winner will be decided on handicap-adjusted times, the fight for line honours will be fierce. There can be few more beautiful sights than a group of yachts flying colourful spinnakers in a dead downwind dice to the finish.

The outright favourite for the weekend is Go Dutch, a Lavranos-designed L26 skippered by Nico van Wieringen. However, the L26 Equation as well as the lightning-quick Van de Stadt 34 Seaboard, pose a serious threat to Go Dutch’s dominance.

Saturday morning features three short-course races over an approximately two-mile course, starting just outside Gordon’s Bay Harbour at 09:30. The afternoon sees a sunset medium distance race, starting at 15:00, that will have the yachts rounding buoys at Strand and under Clarence Drive. Another 09:30 start on Sunday morning sees a frantic “sausage” course in the bay, with four short distance races to decide the weekend’s champion yacht.

While the GBYC Clubhouse is limited in its capacity to host visitors due to Covid-19 restrictions, there are numerous shore-based viewing points around Gordon’s Bay. The excitement of the start can be witnessed from eye level on the Gordon’s Bay Harbour wall, and each course can be easily seen from above at one of the several whale watching points on Clarence Drive. Or, knock on the door of GBYC and ask to watch the racing from the clubhouse roof.

For more, contact GBYC at gbyc@gbyc.co.za or 021 856 3263.

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