While all eyes were on Ellis Park and the athletics track in London this weekend, South Africans Benji Daniel and Alex Burger sailed their way to victory in the World 29er Championships in California.
It was a phenomenal achievement for the young pair, considering they have only being sailing together for six months.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing however. Going into the final day of competition with the worst result of a fifth place during the series, the duo looked to have wrapped things up for the title. But a 33rd place in their penultimate race meant they could take no chances in the final one. They responded in style – taking the front from the start and holding on until the World Championship was secure.
‘We’ve had worse days,’ Daniel told World Sailing afterwards. ‘We wanted to end it in style,’ he added after the SA team finished ahead of Benjamin Jaffrezic and Leo Chauvel of France, and their French compatriots Theo Revil and Gautier Guevel to take top spot.
Burger added that the 29er is a fun and exciting class, while also being extremely competitive. ‘This is not a kid’s race; it’s physical and it’s competitive,’ he said of the class that is considered a feeder to the Olympic 49er skiff class.
‘This is a major achievement and we would like to say a massive congratulations to Benji and Alex for bringing the world 29er title home,’ said SA Sailing chairman Peter Hall.
‘What is even more exciting, is that these are two young guys with a great future ahead of them. This, together with the excellent results of Asenathi Jim and Sibu Sizatu at the Olympic 470 class pre-world and world championships, bodes very well for elite sailing in South Africa in the years to come. This is the result of a very well-structured development programme being managed by double Olympian Roger Hudson.’
A total of 129 teams from 17 countries competed in the 29er World Championships over six days of competition at the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club in Long Beach, California.