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Lipton Cup 2014

With the Lipton Cup 2014 behind us, nobody can deny that Greg Davis and his RCYC team have earned the cup this year. They have been clinical in their Lipton campaign, their boat preparation was impeccable, the crew selection was spot on and last but not least they performed very well whenever they got under pressure during the event itself. They didn’t leave any doubt where the cup will end up this year. They had a perfect plan and they did stick to it. Team RCYC, we salute you.

So what’s the fuss about with all the other teams then? They got beaten fair and square. The results on the score board are not telling the whole truth about the real performance of the younger teams. The youngsters didn’t have the finesse in the boat preparation neither did they have the funding to go the whole way with their Lipton campaigns. They had to improvise all the way and they did a damn good job in doing so.

A lot of people think that our Academy Lipton team did have a bottomless funding from the RCYC for their campaign. That’s far from the truth. Less than R 10k came from the budget of our sailing academy for this event. The other expenses were covered from outside sponsors and from the academy raffle that was held at the RCYC. 150 tickets were sold and many of our members got shareholders in the Lipton campaign of our young Rock stars.

The Lipton campaign of our academy students started less than ideal. One month into the program we lost our only heavy weight of the team, Asemahle Jack. Most of our academy students weigh less than 60kg and we could not find a replacement in our own ranks to get to the maximum crew weight of 420kg. Ryno Lawson came to the rescue and joined the team, not only for his weight but also to match the sailing performance of the rest of the team.

Two weeks before Lipton our team also lost their helmsman because of work commitments. Duane Petersen really pulled the hand brake at the last minute to keep his job. When he asked me for advice I could not tell him anything other than to keep his job and to postpone his dream to sail Lipton in 2015. It was a hard decision for him but he could not afford to be without a job after the event.

Instead of reshuffling the whole team we decided to keep all crew positions and to rather find a fitting helmsman. Sieraj Jacobs saw the real potential of the team and agreed to be part of the campaign in the last minute before the L26 WP Champs.

From here on things only could get better and they eventually did. The newly formed team followed the general principal that we laid out 3 month earlier. A top finish at the Lipton Cup with an intact boat and crew at the end of the event.

Realistically our team never had a chance to win but they came close, very close at times. End of the day they surpassed all our expectations.

Our “Academy Rockstar Team” did not win any prize at the prize giving to be the runner up team. They got something a lot more valuable than any silverware can be. They earned the respect from all competitors during the Lipton event and received at least 3 standing ovations during the prize giving. That was really touching and something worthwhile to be remembered.

My part of the campaign was just to help the most motivated students of our academy to reach a goal they set up for themselves. I had to remind them here and there to stick to the program, but eventually these young sailors carried their own weight throughout their Lipton campaign. End of the day you can’t tell anyone what to do anyway. I could only assist and motivate our youngsters.

To take all pressure off our team, I decided to do some sailing on my own in the Med during Lipton. Graeme Benson has been kind enough to step in as the team manager for our team. He also did a great job informing the sailing fraternity with his real time updates on Whatsapp.

Now after the celebrations have eased off, I wonder if our young team might have been too smart for their own good to deliver such an unexpected performance. These boys are now seriously getting headhunted from the more competitive IRC boat owners. They will pamper these boys and might spoil them to the extent that the youngsters might not want to be part of our sailing academy for any longer.

There are always higher goals to be followed. I hope these boys are not running out of reachable goals too quickly. Let’s never forget how long it takes to become a complete yachty. There are no real shortcuts to make it to the top. Only your own commitment and dedication to the sport will take you there.

Our academy youngster seem to have the Lipton trophy firmly in their sight.

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