Local sport

Ballito’s Rudy McNeill claims gold medal at ILCA Laser Nationals

Seeking to add to his illustrious trophy cabinet, McNeill arrived at the Point Yacht Club to compete against 52 other sailors from across the country.

Ballito’s Rudy McNeill cruised to victory in his return to competitive sailing at the ILCA Laser Nationals last weekend.

Originally from Durban, McNeill was a dominant force in South African laser sailing for years before moving to Johannesburg and giving up the sport for half a decade.

Now back in KwaZulu-Natal on North Coast shores, McNeill looks to be back to his best already.

Laser racing is an individual sport where sailors race single handed dinghies across three categories.

The ILCA 4, 6 and 7 boats are all slightly differently sized, with the ILCA 7 – McNeill’s specialty – the largest at 4.23 metres in length.

McNeill had three ILCA 7 nationals titles to his name before this year, along with four ILCA 4 titles for good measure.

Seeking to add to his illustrious trophy cabinet, McNeill arrived at the Point Yacht Club to compete with 52 other sailors from across the country after which national champions were crowned.

Rudy McNeill cuts through a swell on his way to a convincing victory in the ILCA 7 class.
Photo: Sophie Thompson.

Difficult conditions greeted the group as large seas and gusty north-easterly winds were the main obstacles over three days of racing with 10 individual races per class.

McNeill was dominant in the ILCA 7 class, winning all nine of the races he competed in before taking the 10th off after already securing the victory.

“I think the best moment for me must have been the first race. I had no idea where I would be in the fleet.

“But after the first 100 metres I shot out in front. I decided then, OK keep pushing – you are going to win this,” said McNeill.

“The conditions were physical to say the least, but I definitely felt like it suited me. I have always loved sailing in a steady north-easterly wind in Durban.”

McNeill was understandably thrilled with the result after being removed from the competitive side of the sport for so long.

“I had no expectations and my only goal was sailing for the love of being on the water again. The support I’ve got from family and friends has been incredible!”

Where to next from here?

“We will have to see but this is definitely the start of the comeback,” he said.

To find a full list of results from the event, visit the Point Yacht Club Durban Facebook page or pyc.co.za.

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