Wits Yacht Club (WYC)
For the intrepid, fun-loving adventure seekers out there - this is the club for you!
We’re a welcoming club that introduces Witsies into the amazing sport that is sailing! We'll train you to master the ins and outs of sailing, as well as push our more experienced sailors to new levels.
We participate in various different programs ranging from recreational sailing, to high-performance racing, on a whole range of boat sizes and difficulties. These events include racing leagues, ocean races, races in Durban and Cape Town during our July and December holidays and for our more experienced sailors – provincial and national championships.
We are currently working on getting our members to a level where we will be able to sail the monumental Cape to Rio yacht race in 2020 (an ocean crossing from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro). But for those of you with less inclined to the hardcore sailing side of things – the club also offers a chilled friendly atmosphere with trips away to the Vaal dam to escape the hectic varsity grind.
To keep up with our social side of the club we have monthly fundraising parties which have gained quite a reputation. Watch our Facebook and Instagram pages for details of these events.
Don’t know how to sail? We’ll teach you! You can join in at any time.
Why not tag along- and try something completely out of the ordinary. We promise you won't look back.
What we offer
Weekends away, Learn to sail course, Skipper’s ticket theory course, knot tying course, how to rig a boat course and an introduction to racing course. We also compete in racing leagues, ocean races, races in Durban and Cape Town during our July and December holidays and for our more experienced sailors – provincials and national championships.
JM Busha 54 sailing team conquers more than 7000km to Rio
Wits’ JM Busha 54 sailing team took to the open waters for the year’s Cape2Rio Yacht Race which began on 4 January from the Port of Cape Town.
Yachters embarked on a monstrous 4053.9 nautical miles trek – that is a 7 507.8km journey which ended at the seaside city of Rio in Brazil on 28 January, 23 days and 16 hours since the team completed the first kilometre. JM Busha 54 finished in third position behind the Love Water and Maserati Multi 70 yacht teams, winning the class one handicap and class one line honours.
The team also got the prize for the First Youth, with the German entry Haspa Hamburg, coming in fourth in the overall finishing. Describing the race, yacht co-skipper on the JM Busha-branded Ciao Bella, Ryan Robinson summed up the whole experience as “absolutely amazing” and as “the adventure of a lifetime”. Alongside him was his sister and co-skipper Michaela Robinson, while Wits Yacht Club members Tawanda Chikasha, Emma Clark, Jonathan Ham and Hearn Johnson completed the crew.
“There were some amazing experiences,” said Robinson. “From the hundreds of whales [along the way] to seeing land for the first time in days. But for me, the best one was the day after we managed to get out of Cyclone Kurumi (a tropical storm we had to race through on our race). There is nothing quite like the experience of conquering something that immense… The camaraderie, hard work and teamwork displayed by my team is something I will never forget.”
With so many lessons learnt and any of a number of things which stand as the highlight of the event, Robinson decidedly pointed to the teamwork as the glue that bound the team’s singular goal all throughout the gruelling race. “Individuals are much stronger when working as a team. It's a cliché from the Rugby World Cup last year. But ultimately, it's true – people are #strongertogether,” Robinson said.
“Other lessons I learnt was how far a person is actually able to push themselves. You learn what the human body is capable of, which ranged from never getting more than four hours of sleep at a time, to physically exerting yourself to the point of utter exhaustion.”
He added: “The last lesson would be that it's not over, until it is over. We had a real disadvantage at the start of the race and got caught in a weather system with absolutely no wind. We stayed there for a couple of days. This meant we were at a huge disadvantage on day two of a 24-day race. We never gave up though. And by the end of it – through sheer perseverance – we managed to claw our way back into a respectable position.”
When asked what some of the biggest lessons were for his crew, Robinson said the experience in its entirety will not only apply to new races, but be applied to both sailing and everyone else’s day-to-day lives. Encouragingly for new and prospective yachters, he said to “make it happen” for yourself. “Sometimes, you need to push your own envelope and not let society dictate what is achievable.
“We had people on the boat achieving amazing things. Michaela was the youngest skipper to ever complete this race. Tawanda was the first black Zimbabwean to ever sail across the Atlantic Ocean. Had they listened to the naysayers, they might never have achieved these amazing goals,” he said.
Written by Tshepiso Mametela
USSA 2019 SAILING REPORT
In preparation for USSA 2019, Wits Yacht Club participated in many team sailing events, as well as match racing across the country. The crews displayed eagerness to learn, and above all, loyalty and determination throughout the year.
The selected Wits team going to USSA 2019 in early December consisted of fourteen sailors – two teams and two reserves – who all met at Wits campus bright and early on Sunday morning to catch the bus to the airport. This was the first time the team had ever flown together to an event as well as the first time on an aeroplane for some; one can imagine the energy and lively vibe despite the early morning. After nearly seven hours of traveling we finally arrived at Theewaterskloof Dam in Cape Town, unpacked and pitched our tents, ready for the next five days of racing.
The first day of racing had challenging weather conditions and saw a meagre three races being completed with many boats capsizing, causing racing to be called off for the day. Wits A did manage to sail the first two pool races in the wild wind, beating Rhodes B 15-6 as well as DUT B 15-6. Proud of our first results it was no secret that these two races were tough, leaving the team battered and hoping for less harsh conditions to follow on the Tuesday.
Day two promised better weather and pool races continued from where we had left off. The racing format then had to be changed from best of three races consisting of one lap each to one race with two laps, as time was not on the side of the racing committee who had to accommodate thirteen teams. Wits B team held out well showing resilience and guts, however lost three races on the day to UCT B 6-15, Tuks A 9-12 and Stellies A 6-15. Wits A team started off with a cracker of a day beating DUT A 15-6, however they lost to UCT A 9-12 after a strong race.
Day three started out with little wind but it quickly picked up, in typical Theewaters style. Sails were reefed and the racing continued. After a full and fun day of the various pool racing the final results came out and Wits A had made it through to the quarter finals.
Thursday saw Wits A taking on UKZN. This was to determine who would sail in the semi-finals. The race was tough and the wind switches proved to be devastating if not noticed. After a competitive start a mark trap was set up by UKZN within the first lap, causing them to push back one of our boats into sixth place. This left us in a horrible situation. With two boats left towards the front and UKZN currently with a winning combination all we could do was set up a mark trap ourselves with the hopes of getting our three boats ahead of their two that were still within our reach. As we attempted to set up a double mark trap on their back two boats we sailed into an unpredicted sudden wind shift allowing them to stream over the top of both of us. After an extremely competitive race we held our heads high knowing that we had given it our all.
Due to there being three pools, a small round robin was sailed to determine the fourth team to qualify for semi-finals. Wits A made it to the final race within this small round robin “sail-off”, leaving us to fight it out with Tuks A for the last spot in the semi-finals. Sadly we were kicked out, leaving us in fifth place over all. As the final races followed we were privileged to watch some seriously close and competitive racing, testament to how the world of university sailing has developed. Out of thirteen teams Wits A placed fifth, UKZN forth, Stellenbosch third, Tuks A second leaving UCT A in a well deserved first place.
USSA 2019 was a successful regatta to say the least – with seven universities, thirteen teams and a total of 86 students taking part; it was the biggest and most competitive regatta yet. The regatta took place in mostly strong winds which proved tough for many of the competitors, however each participant can be commended for their efforts, skills and talents shown throughout the event.
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