GARDEN ROUTE SAILING NEWS - Despite the ban on beaches along the Garden Route and other Covid-19 hotspots, it was smooth sailing for participants in the Hobie 16 National Regatta, hosted in Plettenberg Bay for the first time in 25 years.
What made it especially sweet was that local sailors took the top honours.
The colourful catamarans lined the coast from 17 to 20 December as sailors competed in one of the largest and most competitive sailing class competitions in South Africa. It was testament to the growing success of the annual Robberg Fine Foods Classic Beach Regatta, held in December at Hobie Beach every year.
Sailors from across the country gathered in Plett to race over the four-day period.
Organisers of the event, sponsored by local business Robberg Fine Foods, said activity got under way on the Friday despite a "nervous wobble" after President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement that beaches on the Garden Route would be closed due to Covid-19 concerns.
"After clarity was received that boats would be permitted to launch at public slipways, the regatta went ahead as planned."
Sailors started battling it out on the water on the first day in a light south-westerly breeze.
Local sailors took advantage of their backyard knowledge and were leading the pack on the first day, with William and Lucinda Edwards in first place and Blaine and Roxanne Dodds in fourth.
On the second day a brisk south-easterly made for exciting sailing conditions in the bay and saw the two local duos snatch first and second place respectively.
The following day saw sailors take on a much lighter breeze, with the Edwards duo moving into second place and the Dodds team into fourth position once more.
On Sunday, sailors took the water for a final stage. What began as a rainy start ended up with three races being completed in a moderate south-easterly.
The Edwardses flew the Plett flag high and clinched overall victory. Second were Paul and Jayden Lagesse and the final podium position went to Shaun Ferry and Alison Ball.
Other locals, the Doddses, just missed out on a podium spot, finishing in fourth place overall.
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