The TuksYachting club was officially started this year and PDBY spoke to Jonathan Ham, a third-year veterinary student, to find out more about the sport and their new club.
At the moment, the club has 22 members who have been learning how to sail since the beginning of the year. Preparing new sailors is time-intensive as “it takes a lot of time just to learn how to sail and then only after that do you start to learn how to race.”
Ham explains that “there are many different kinds of boats, mainly divided into keel boats and dinghies. Keel boats are generally larger and used for long sea sailing and dinghies are much smaller and lighter”. TuksYachting mainly takes part in “smaller dinghy sailing and [also] smaller keel boat racing”. For intervarsity sailing the races are usually “short races that are very quick and exciting so there’s also quite a bit of spectator value”. According to Ham, the races generally last about half an hour, and because of this you will sail “about 6 or so races a day”.
The TuksYachting team are preparing for their “major intervarsity match, racing Regatta in Durban” in July. This competition is sailed with keel boats, and UP is hoping to take an A-team and a B-team which consists out of 12 students in total. The different universities will compete against each other in a round robin format. Ham says that they “won the event last year and [were] against UCT in the finals”. Ham told PDBY that he is “really looking forward to this year’s race”. TuksYachting has other small competitions “on the dinghies throughout the year”, but one of their main events are the USSA’s that take place in December in Cape Town at Theewaterskloof dam.
Ham says that in sailing, “Mental strength is probably one of the important aspects for a competitive sailor, mainly because there are so many things you can’t control” like the “wind and weather”. He feels that the most important part is “being able to recover from being unlucky or being able to minimize your losses, because you mustn’t get demotivated [in] a race”.
Physically you must also be fit and Ham comments that, “you do a lot of exercise [like] a lot of balance and stability [as well as] core and shoulders”. This is needed because “Especially in strong weather conditions you need to be fit enough to use your body weight to stop your boat from being blown over.”
Ham’s sailing goals for 2019 is “to prepare adequately” for the Cape to Rio Yacht race which he and another UP student will compete at. This transatlantic yacht race will take place in January 2020 and it is estimated it will take them between 19 and 20 days to complete. This preparation includes “a whole lot of training down in Durban on the boat and sailing the boat from Durban to Cape Town in December”. His other goals are to “remain the intervarsity match racing champions after this Regatta in July”. He also wants the new team to place, “atleast [in the] top 3 in the USSA’s at the end of the year”