Michaelhouse pupil Sam Lombaard takes the Laser world by storm

2015-04-21 00:00

HE’S only 14, but Michaelhouse pupil Sam Lombaard could be considered an old sea dog when it comes to Laser sailing.

Last year, he bagged the Laser Radial 4.7 title at the SA Laser Nationals and this time around, he has no intention of letting his grasp on the title slip, working even harder to stay ahead of the rest.

This year’s nationals are offshore in Durban, starting on April 30, and the young sailor has been taking every available opportunity to get out the classroom and take to the water.

Even overseas competition has not been beyond him as he jetted to Japan earlier in the year where he finished 21st in the silver fleet.

“I was expecting a better finish but it came down to experience in the end and something for me to build on,” said Sam. “I have also competed in the KZN Inter-Schools at Richards Bay where I returned to winning ways and Michaelhouse won the senior school event.”

And that’s not all that currently adorns the youngster’s already impressive CV. In 2013, he was in England to compete in the RS Tera Pro World Champs where he secured second spot, followed by the Topper Worlds in France, where he came 24th in the gold fleet.

“I have also competed at regattas in Belgium (2013), Italy in 2012 and Denmark in 2011. Again, the value of the experience cannot be determined,” said Sam.

That second place in England is put into perspective when considering how many sailors from around the world compete at such a level. Sam’s achievement is one to take note of and is an incredible accolade on his CV.

“I am fortunate to be able to travel and get a taste of top level sailing at various regattas around the world,” he said.

“Last year, I won my Laser title at False Bay and in 2013, also raced in the Dabchick class where I was sixth at nationals. I have since sold the boat to concentrate on the Lasers.”

With a father who was a former rear commodore at Point Yacht Club it’s no wonder Sam is so astute on the water. “He taught me how to sail and I only started after I was diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta, meaning I have a brittle bone disorder,” he said.

“My father discovered a Sail Africa programme which he thought would be perfect for me and needless to say, as I progressed through the courses, I loved it. As a result, an RS Tera came my way as a Christmas present in 2009 and I have never looked back.”

Sailing has been an inspired choice for Sam and despite his diagnosis, acknowledges Laser sailing as one of the most physical challenges of the sport.

“They are one of the most physical boats to sail and hugely tactical,” he said. “There are so many ways to generate speed from the boat and concentration knows no limits when keeping the boat upright in a strong breeze.”

Being a water baby, Sam has his sights set on some other challenges other than taming the high seas. “I enjoy canoeing and fishing. Next year, I would like to take on the Dusi and the Fish River Canoe Marathon at the end of this year. In the pool, I enjoy waterpolo and made the KZN side in 2013.”

All Sam’s achievements are part of a five-year plan he has set himself. This includes returning to Tokyo for the 2020 summer Olympics and emulating Australian Tom Slingby, an international Laser exponent of note.

Having mastered the smaller craft on the water, Sam has tried his hand at bigger stuff, representing Point Yacht Club at the Lipton Challenge in Cape Town, in 2012 where, by his own admission, “I learnt so much.”

His folks are his role models and off the water, he enjoys cooking, another interest gained from his father who is a chef. All that remains is for Sam to head out to sea over the May Day weekend in Durban and do some cooking on the water.

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