By Mark Etheridge
The 2012 Olympic Games were always going to be more about experience than excellence for our sailors Roger Hudson and Asenathi Jim.
They ended 27th in the 470 Olympic class in London but the lessons learnt are already paying off.
The duo sailed their way into history Down Under on Saturday by taking silver in the opening event of the 2012/13 World Cup season.
It’s the first time World Cup silver ever by a South African sailor although we have previously won bronze medals in single-handed events.
And making it all the more satisfactory for the South Africans was that they were only beaten by Olympic gold medallist Matt Belcher and his crew Will Ryan.
That was after six days of tough racing in Port Philip Bay off Melbourne.
The South Africans slugged it out against another Australian combo, Angus Gallaway and Tim Hannah and Russians Vladimir Chaus and Denis Gribanov.
Gallaway and Hannah are┬áare seen as the next generation of Aussie Olympians and have recently been selected as the┬átraining partners of the defending Olympic gold medallists. They’e currently being coached by the legendary Victor Kovalenco, known throughout the international sailing world as “The Medal Maker”.
Going into Melbourne the Russians were 10 places higher than the South Africans in the world rankings, so by beating them as well as the Australians in Melbourne, Jim and Hudson have made a strong start to the season ahead.
After the first nine races the SA team were well placed for a podium finish, but the points between Silver and Bronze were close and it was all down to the tenth and final race – the Medal Race.
Hudson, whose father and fellow Olympian Dave, was manager/coach in London, said from Melbourne, “The wind came from the desert in the North today and it was very hot, very dry and very windy. And of course very full of flies.
“We had to be within a place of the Russians and ahead of Angus to take second┬áoverall. We hit the pin hard and went left with the Russians, but the right came through strongly and we rounded the first top mark second┬álast in the medal race fleet of 10. We had a good run and second┬ábeat to be mid-way at the second┬átop mark, one behind the Russians and three behind Galloway.
“After getting the shifts right on the third┬ábeat we rounded the final top mark in fourth┬áplace, 10 lengths and two places behind Galloway and just ahead of the Russians. We gybed early onto a big shift and gust and rolled Galloway, taking second┬áplace in the race and overall. Good times and a good event for us.”
The World Cup circuit continues in January.