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Young Durban sailor gears up for national event

The annual MSC Week, a highlight on the national sailing calendar, takes place from July 1 to 5 and is hosted by the Point Yacht Club.

COMPETITIVE sailors from around South Africa are gearing up for the annual MSC Week, a highlight on the national sailing calendar, which takes place offshore of Durban from July 1 to 5 and which is hosted by the Point Yacht Club.

Nearing fifty years since its inception, the MSC Week, which began in 1976, is five days of offshore sailing at its finest in Durban’s magnificent winter conditions. The week-long event incorporates the ORC Nationals and the L26 KZN Regional Championships. The third class, a feisty fleet of multi-hulls, will also be lining up on the start line.

Caxton Local Media Durban spoke to young sailor Shamir Rampersadh who is gearing up to take on top competitive sailors from around South Africa in the week-long regatta to be held offshore of Durban in July.

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The annual MSC Week, a highlight on the national sailing calendar, takes place from July 1 to 5 and is hosted by the Point Yacht Club.

The 19-year-old said he was introduced to sailing when he was in Grade Eight at Glenwood High School.

“The school had sailing as an extracurricular activity, and I have always had a love for the ocean and had wanted to try something new, so sailing was the perfect opportunity to integrate both,” he said.

Rampersadh is currently doing his second year at the Durban University of Technology and is studying nautical science which entails the safe manning, operation and navigation of ships.

After being asked what he loves about sailing, he smiled and said, “It is very relaxing while cruising, and it can get very competitive while racing.

“Most people are unaware that sailing is actually an Olympic event.”

Speaking about the MSC Week, he said it is a five-day event which is held offshore of Durban.

“Within the event, national or regional championships are held for certain types of boats. It takes place every year on the first week of July.”

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This year will be Rampersadh’s fourth time participating.

“I sailed my first one in 2019. Unfortunately, the 2020 and 2021 MSC Weeks did not happen because of Covid-19 restrictions, but I’ve competed every year since then.”

The young sailor said he is looking forward to this year’s event more than the previous years’ events. “I am excited with this one as, each year, my skillset has gotten better and better, and I am also aware that there will be tough competition, so it will be exciting to race against them.”

He says that being a sailor does not require much. “But if you want to be able to do racing, you need time on the water. You need to be willing to learn, you need to be versatile around the boat, and you need to be able to trust your crew and work as a team.

“I and my team used to train weekly, however, with recent exams and certain maintenance needed on the boat, we have been off the water for a while. That won’t hold us back from trying our best at the event, though,” he said.

A variety of courses will be set up by well-respected race officer Kevin Bingham who will oversee all the action on the aquatic racetrack. This will be the third time that he has the responsibility of running the MSC Week. Depending on the weather, Bingham will have the option of sending the fleet off on a long-distance race or onto the sprint option of dicing ‘around the cans’.

A minimum of four races constitutes a regatta, with a maximum of 15 races allowed. Racing will get underway at 11:00 on the first day, and thereafter, depending on conditions, yachts will be raring to go from 10:00.

Welcoming the teams, the yacht club hosts a warm-up run for the competitors to shake out their sails before the main event. The Commodore’s Cup takes place in the harbour on Sunday afternoon, June 30, prior to MSC Week, with race officer Bingham sending the flotilla on a couple of laps around a gentle course set in the bustling bay.

Sailors interested in entering can contact the yacht club for details.

For more info, visit www.pyc.co.za or follow the yacht club on Facebook or Instagram.

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