The 2016 470 African Championship was a ground-breaking moment for sailing in Africa, as the event marked the first ever Championships and first Continental Olympic Qualification Event.
Eleven races and five days of competition saw Asenathi Jim and Roger Hudson crowned the inaugural African Champions while Angola also claimed a place on the starting line at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Jim and Hudson jostled for the title with teammates Sibusiso Sizatu and Alex Burger who put up a good challenge, continuously pushing the Olympians around every stretch of the race track. The overall lead exchanged hands between these two teams who between them dominated the leaderboard.
Jim and Hudson went into the final day with a two-point advantage, and their clean win of the 25 minute Medal Race put victory nicely in the bag.
“It’s pretty special for us to win,’ grinned Jim. “And for our other teams that we train with almost every day to come second, third and fourth means a lot to us. They are some of the many people supporting us. It shows how much training we do as a team, it makes us feel proud, it shows a lot of progress in terms of what we’re doing, and trying to do, here in Cape Town.”
“We feel fantastic!” chipped in Hudson. “First of all, we are really pleased that the inaugural 470 African Championships has been hosted here and that it was such a fantastic sailing event, that we had such a great variety of weather and so many people pulled together to make the event possible.”
Teams from Algeria, Angola and South Africa competed in the Championship, which saw the race course set right off Cape Town’s popular waterfront area and in front of the iconic Table Mountain.
Jim and Hudson secured South Africa’s place at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games during the 2015 470 World Championships in Israel last year, so the battle to claim the one African continental qualification place unfolded between the teams representing Algeria and Angola.
Angola’s Matia Montinho and Paixao Afonso opened their assault with a strong third place in race one and soon held their advantage over teammates Francisco Artur and Edivaldo Torres and the Algerian pair of Hakiim Djoulah and Samir Ksouri.
A consistent scoreline rewarded them with a sixth place overall to give Montinho and Paixao Afonso’s the honour of securing their nation’s place to Rio and a massive celebration of success for Angola.
Their achievement marks the first time Angola has competed in the 470 Men event since the 1992 Olympic Games.
However, the challenge is a long way from over for the two Angola teams, as they now face off to decide who will make it to the Olympic starting line.
The Jim and Hudson partnership are already secured to go to Rio, so their training continues to gain pace, with the pair heading off to World Cup Miami where racing gets underway on Monday January 25. Rio 2016 will mark the team’s second Olympic appearance.
Philip Baum, President of South African Sailing, was instrumental in achieving the goal of Africa hosting the African Olympic Qualification Event on its home waters, rather than at an off-continent venue.
‘We’ve hosted a very successful inaugural 470 African Championships,’ Baum said ‘and shown that we can pull it off. In Europe, sailing can become out of sight out of mind, but for us here it is real and tangible, and we’ve managed to get it into the main media streams, on prime time TV news and major newspapers. – African News Agency (ANA)