Young sailor off to Portugal

2014-07-10 00:00

POINT Yacht Club’s Ryan Robinson (17) leaves on Saturday to compete in the ISAF Youth World Championships in Portugal, racing in the fast-flying 420 dinghy class.

He is joined by team-mate Dominic van der Walt and Ryan, a Grade 11 pupil at Carlton High School in Carletonville, is more than excited about racing in the 420 class.

“Amazing is the word to describe the 420 boat,” he said.

“It’s the best boat to carve a path in the sailing world and is able to sail in wind strengths other boats cannot handle. It all adds up to serious fun,” he said.

Although hailing from Gauteng, Ryan is a country member at Point Yacht Club, making the journey to the sea every few weeks to hone his skills and spend time on the water.

Spending time on the water has enabled Ryan to see a balance between life and sailing.

“For me, the best thing about sailing is how it mirrors life and the lessons I learn from it,” he said.

“Sometimes, things go your way and then they turn against you.

“It teaches you how to deal with life and makes you give of your best from the start, working toward the results which will eventually come.”

Sailing is what life is about for Ryan. At the beginning of this year, he joined his family in taking on the Cape2Rio epic, where time spent on the water has proven valuable in his dinghy sailing.

“The Cape2Rio gave me hours and hours of downwind practice that is vital for dinghy sailing,” he said.

“It all comes down to time on the water and getting a sixth-sense feel for the boat being sailed. Once that is achieved, then the next step is competitive racing.”

This was the second Cape2Rio for the Robinson family, where they managed to emerge unscathed from a massive front that hit the fleet at the beginning of the race, resulting in many boats being damaged and one death.

“We made it through the storm unharmed and knowing it would pass on the third day was a relief, knowing the worst was over. It was a difficult challenge,” said Ryan.

But for now, Ryan’s attention is ­focused on Portugal, where he will be for a week and a half.

“The regatta lasts for that long and, unfortunately, our funds do not allow us to spend extra time in Europe to take part in some warm-up regattas,” he said.

“We lose the advantage of big fleet racing which we can only make up with intense training.”

Ryan and Dominic will be joined by the Viviers brothers, Eben and Johan, who will ensure a challenge for the PYC pair.

“Competition will be tough from the whole fleet and it’s about taking on the whole field, not a specific pair. If you do that, you limit your expectations and lose focus,” said Ryan.

While Ryan feels exhilarated racing the 420, he knows that getting a good start is key.

“That’s what comes to mind when dealing with this boat. If there are not big fleets to sail in and you start on the same line as lasers and other similar boats, it can be a mission to get that good start,” he said.

“It’s getting the boat’s pointing ability right that’s important.”

Ryan has been sailing with Dominic for the past two years and they have competed in one international regatta in the 420 class.

“Communication was a problem at first but we have sorted that and are working well as a team,” said Robinson.

“We were at last year’s Youth Worlds and hope to build on that experience. We don’t have a specific goal as that adds more pressure on us. Our mind-set is to do our best.”

The ISAF World Youth Championships is from Saturday to July 19.

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