PYC’s Benji Daniels Charging At The Front At The 29er Worlds

Point Yacht Club
29er Worlds
Alamitos Bay Yacht Club, Long Beach, California: 31 July – 5 August
The surprise package of South African’s Benji Daniel and Alex Burger are leading a highly competitive fleet at the 29er World Champs taking place in Long Beach, California.
Consistency for this new pairing has been the formula for their success, with four races under their belt they are leading the pack going into the last two days. Their first race saw them finish 3rd, setting the pace for their next few races. The magic started with the big names having erratic, mixed fortunes. Daniel and Burger quietly sticking by their guns, putting their heads down and notching up a 3rd, 2nd and 4th in the three remaining races run.
After four races scored, the only South African team competing in California are sitting on a handsome 12points, with the French team of Benjamin Jaffrezic and Leo Chauvel sitting on 29points next behind them. The French team have been charging at the front in recent regattas in Europe and were pegged as one of the top teams leading up the regatta.
Lying in third is the American pair of Alie Toppa and Jacob Rosenberg who have totalled 36points. Their scorecard showing a 20th, 8th, 7th and 1st in the fourth race. All the teams who have won races have disappointing results out of the top ten. Argentinian’s Santiago Loiaz and Elias Dalli took the first race, finishing mid-fleet in 24th in the second race, and two 8s in the third and fourth, Australians Archie Cropley and Simon Murnaghan stated with a 16th, won the second race and then had two shockers of 37th and 46th. Albert Gelpi and Alex Boquet from Spain began with a 19th and 35th, won the third race and then managed a 7th in the fourth.
The epitome of consistency, the dynamic duo of Daniel and Burger are the only team in the top ten who have all single digit results, with the top guns’ log revealing a few double figures. This is the team’s first major event competing together. Daniel (16), a regular face on local waters, a Grade 11 pupil at Thomas More College is sailing under the Point Yacht Club burgee. He has travelled together with former sailing partner, Chad Stevenson to Malaysia and New Zealand where they competed in the Youth World Championships. In the 2015 Langkawi event in Malaysia, Daniel finished 28th overall and 22nd in Auckland last December.
Burger, who is just out of school and studying at UCT has been gaining experience with Taariq Jacobs in Cape Town on the 29er. He is part of the RaceAhead programme that is aimed at developing talent towards the Olympics. He made his debut in 2014 with Asenathi Jim on a 470 in Kiel Week, and recently made the move towards skiffs and 29ers.
The six day regatta hosted by Alamitos Bay Yacht Club, started with a three day qualifying series. Durban’s Daniel and Cape Town’s Burger finished five of the nine qualifying races in the top ten, and took the top spot in the seventh race. But the fresh, young team ended badly with a 17th and 12th, but still impressed with a third overall, earning a berth in the Gold Fleet. Leading up to the main event, the Saffas took to waters in the US Nationals to acclimatise. Stretching their legs in the American waters for the first time, the youngsters ended the nationals in third place, a sign of things to come.
129 boats with 258 sailors comprising 17 countries are sailing for the honours of world champion, with the competitors separated into three fleets. The Gold fleet having the best qualifiers, holding the maximum boats of 50 on a highly charged start line, the Silver fleet consisting of the guys who just didn’t make the gold with 40 boats on the starting line and finally, Bronze with 39 boats registered.
Set for battle, Durban’s Benji Daniel helming his 29er superbly with crew member Alex Burger are all charged and ready for the 29er World Championships title and podium places with two more days to go.

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