10 October 2020

As part of the Little Optimist Global Sailing Race, Mark Dawson, a National Sea Rescue Institute volunteer at the Port Elizabeth base, has invited several experienced seamen to sail and raise funds for the organisation.

Each adult sailor will be on an optimist dinghy, a small 8ft-vessel better suited to children or teens at the helm on calm inland waters.

They will be sailing 12 nautical miles (about 22km) from the Noordhoek Ski Boat Club to the NSRI Station 6 in the harbour to raise awareness of the newly established auxiliary NSRI station at Noordhoek Ski Boat Club.

The Base To Base team will set off from the Ski Boat Club through the breakers rounding Cape Recife, while navigating Thunderbolt reef.

From there they will turn and head into the bay and sail along the beachfront, coming into the harbour at their NSRI Station 6 destination.

It could take them anything between five and seven hours in favourable conditions.

The date set for this inaugural expedition is Saturday at 8am, with Sunday reserved in case of severe weather.

According to the  rules of the virtual Little Optimist Global Race, the sail can take place anytime between October 9-18,  leaving a second weekend available should the conditions be deemed unsafe.

The team consists of nine people each attempting to sail the entire course.

There are four volunteers — Dawson,  Riaan du Toit, Frankie Jacobs, Jonathan Tufts — from Port Elizabeth taking part to raise funds.

Two optimist dinghies will be crewed by a relay team, making a fleet of 11 craft in total.

Each sailor will be tracking their progress on the free RSA SAFETRX app. The safety app is downloaded on a smartphone and monitors the boat’s journey in real-time, while having an emergency button for a distress call.