Photography by Trevor Wilkins.
Sailing in Africa - what an experience! Theewater SC near Villiersdorp, in Western Cape, situated in the Cape winefields and fruit growing area, must be one of the most stunning venues on earth. Surrounded by imposing mountains, forests and fruit fields - sunshine in abundance and wind a plenty - perfect conditions for the gathering of the Mirror fleets from UK, Australia, South Africa, Japan and France. The fleet represented the full spectrum of Mirror sailing - wooden boats and plastic boats, juniors and parents/children, gaff rigs and single masts. The Izivungu Sailing Academy from Cape Town that supports sailing development for township children brought their special African flavour to the regatta - including their excellent band and dancing.
The top of the fleet included a top French 470 sailor, UK and South African national 420 squad sailors - and some vastly experienced parents sailing with their children. The UK fleet mainly consisted of juniors, with ages ranging from 10 to 17, having graduated through the RYA and Mirror Class Association squads, representing Itchenor SC, Torpoint Mosquito SC and Restronguet SC.
As ever, consistency paid in the final results with Michaela and Ryan Robinson from RSA emerging as World Champions with a day to spare, counting ten races in the top ten. They have truly shattered the perception that you need a 'plastic' Mirror to win at the highest level with their immaculately prepared 8 year old wooden boat. Michaela crewed for Ryan when they won the Worlds at Lough Derg in Ireland in 2013 and continuing the Robinson family sibling mentoring policy this time the tables were turned and Ryan helped Michaela to win.
Team GBR were looking strong mid way through the regatta with Eleanor Keers & Izzy Pugh level on points with the Robinsons and her elder sister Gemma & Imogen Bellfield sitting in third. The Australians, South Africans and the French boat were hot on their heels - with the GBR boats excelling in the strong winds - the Aussies and South Africans were particularly astute in the lighter winds, finding the right way to go during the periods of wind transition before the daily SE'er set in each afternoon. With the Race Officer having done a great job in packing in 11 races in 4 days, he only had to fit in 1 race on the final day which started in a good 8 kt breeze but inevitably it switched off on the final beat with the Australians at the forefront - giving Simon Barwood and his 8 year old son Tyson the points to edge into a well deserved 2nd place. Brothers Eben & Johan Vivier 420 sailors from South Africa finished 5th and Sacha Pelisson, a French 470 helm, & Alec Webb in their new P&B Racing South African Mk 3 hull finished 6th.
Team GBR will return to UK with great memories of a fantastic regatta, 5 boats in the top 15 and the first three Juniors with Eleanor & Izzy being crowned World Junior Champions. The Mirror Worlds is akin to the Commonwealth Games in that everyone gets on so well and the family and junior mix generates close friendships across the nations. The next Worlds will be at Restronguet SC, in Cornwall, in July/August 2017, followed by Sydney Australia in January 2019. The Mirror's unique ability for parent / child combinations to be competitive is a great strength of the class - so it is time to get a Mirror, sail with the children and enjoy the brilliant experience of sailing with the international Mirror family in Cornwall in 2017.