Holiday 23 Master 2012 Vaaldam   (This page last updated on 20th May 2012)

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Holiday 23 Masters 2012 Through the eyes of Allan Rosenberg

It’s here! The 27th of April 2012 has arrived. I arrive at Bayshore Marina with Philippe Pringiers, a H23 owner from  Gordon’s Bay who I invited to join me for the event as well as another competent sailor Richard Cook who is well known in the Dart yachting circles and also a previous owner of a H23 (sail No 175). We prepare Greylag for a test run and the wind is blowing a perfect 10 – 15 knots. We managed to get a surprising 8.5 knots out of her on a downwind run with a goose wing rig. At that stage, I knew I had the perfect team on board.

  All the itinerary planning, the catering, the entertainment programme, all the course coordinate settings and at least 100 emails later between Mike Robinson, Jasper vd Westhuizen, Roux Gerber and myself, the event was about to materialise and it started the moment fifteen Holiday 23 yachts sailed into Harbour Town with a similar approach as the Normandy Landing and invaded the walk on mooring jetties, also accompanied by two monster multihull yachts as well as a speedboat which was kindly put into place and manned by Roux Gerber as the official tender (water taxi). There was also a dedicated rescue vessel in the form of a rubber duck with a sad looking 1 horse power seagull motor that only started after a prayer and a klap on the rotor head.

Forty six friendly faces mustered at the Dodo Restaurant around 5 p.m. for and introduction speech by Mike Robinson who also played an integral part of the master plan as the master of ceremonies and race master for the Masters. Forty six hamburgers and chips disappeared in a flash and there was a 20 seater bar also being put to good use. The jokes, the laughter, reminiscing of past events and as the evening progressed; the jokes told should have carried an age restriction of 45 and over. The lucky ones managed to get into bed by 10:30 p.m.

Saturday the 28th and I dart to the window to see what the weather offers us for today. The wind Gods are on our side with perfect sailing weather. A good spirited bunch meet for breakfast where I over hear private challenges being taunted amongst the skippers. My personal challenge is with Wynand Grove on Gitan which is an old score to settle where Greylag managed to beat him by three places in the Ron Rosevere Night race last year. We evened the score in the RTIR so this was the decider.

The first race of the day starts at 10:30 a.m. and Richard “the statisionist” comes alive with what he knows best, to be first over the line and we seemed to be going in a direction completely opposite to all the other boats with Richard adamant about his strategic move. Five minutes into the race and things seemed to be predictably falling into place with Nakita skippered by Robbie Whitecross slipping into the lead. Also coming out of nowhere is Aquafox, Lothrorien, and the Robinson kids on Oran Mor. The Greylag crew with an accumulated 60+ years of sailing experience has just been whitewashed by an eleven year old skipper and her slightly older brother. I am still chuffed to be up there with the leading boats. The course is laid to go around the island with a close reach, a beat and a spinnaker run to the hooter.

Race number two is a pursuit race and is based on the results of the previous race which comes with instructions to sail from the island to Manten Marina where we will find Roux sitting somewhere next to the wall in our dedicated rescue vessel with the seagull motor that only starts after a prayer and a klap on the rotor head. We will then pass on the port side and throw as much money as we have into the rubber duck for the NSRI fund. After that, head directly to LDYC where you will find the finish line “somewhere there”.

Once again things are going well for us and we are blistering ahead towards Manten Marina where Roux and his duck are nowhere to be found. We are confused, the bridge boat is confused, Lothlorien are asking us if we know where this damned duck is and the Robinson kids are white washing us again. Oh well, I think to myself, “if I missed the NSRI donations mark, so will Lothlorien and Oran Mor” and the race is on towards the finish line with us lying in third or fourth place. Confusion again – the finish line is nowhere to be seen so I follow close behind Lothrolien who starts taking down sails amongst the yachts on swing moorings so the finish line must have been badly displayed.

We find a swing mooring and head towards the clubhouse for a braai. No one has seen Roux or his duck for an hour. Christine his wife has tried to reach him on cell phone to no avail and he is now “missing in action”. The talk of the day is the missing duck and the missing finish line. Another hour goes by and in walks a very sunburned Roux who didn’t realise that it would take about 4 hours to do the crossing from the island to LDYC in his duck with a 1 hp motor. He was immediately fired from rescue duty and made the official taxi driver.

The H23 party is well fed and well hosted thanks to the LDYC catering team and it’s time to head back to Harbour Town with threatening storms in all four directions surrounding the dam. We head off on full throttle motoring across the dam with a lucky break and arrive safely at our destination.

Saturday evening was left open for people to relax and do their own thing which was much needed after the adrenalin rush from the past two days. More from the excitement of fighting the strong winds but also from the rush one expends when being competitive.

Sunday morning is upon us and I can’t help thinking how fast the weekend has flown with only Monday left of this fantastic event. The main topic of conversation is the lack of wind but it’s only 8:15 a.m. and as the saying goes for the Vaal Dam area: - “up at 7 – gone by 11” so if you reverse this predictability, the wind speed should increase by 10 and stay for the day.

Mike our race officer makes a call to start a downwind race from Harbour Town to Pennant Nine in a 2 – 3 knot wind and after one hour of sailing, does the correct move by shortening the course to alleviate the frustration of going nowhere fast. I quite enjoyed the race as I had a chance to apply my light wind tactics which include no moving or breathing on the boat. We took fifth position behind Nakita, Aquafox, Oron Mor and Freya – not too sure in which order. From there to Pennant 9 Yacht Club (PNYC), we all started our motors and took in the scenery along the way of all the affluent properties with manicured gardens and private beaches. Most of which are holiday homes that are locked up for the best part of the year.

As the flotilla went past Fool’s Point (notoriously known for being the most likely spot on the dam to run aground) and headed in a northerly direction towards the club, the wind started to build to a light and steady 4 - 6 knots so all the yachts took advantage of the last half hour and set sail until we reached PNYC. Here we had to share the swing moorings so we quickly hung six fenders around the yacht and invited others to moor up alongside us forming a group of 3 boats. The club immediately sprang into action by sending their two tenders out to fetch the entire party. They really made us feel welcome and had our sandwich packs ready as we got there. Thanks to Vince, Erika and Peter the barman for your hospitality. Even the dogs were friendly.

The next leg of the itinerary was to race up the river to the first overhead power lines with most of the route being downwind. The wind was quite tricky at times with strong gusts hitting the entire fleet and causing many broaches with spinnakers hitting the water and forcing crews to regain composure by releasing all spinnaker rope lines. Broaches even happen to the most experienced sailors. Just ask Ray Van Rensburg (our Holiday 23 hero who came second, behind Richard Stewart on Moonbeam in our class in this year’s RTIR) he tipped his family into the drink without warning.

I was a casualty of severe rope burn which slid through my hand at a speed of 3 metres per second. My fault for not wearing gloves and one of the few times I have not worn them. I let the golden rule slip. “always wear gloves, shoes and buoyancy equipment in strong winds”. We reached the first power lines with Gitan, my arch enemy in this race series who kept close on my heels for the last 400 metres. Ja Wynand, I had you in my rear view mirror. J

The wind was ideal for the rest of the way which allowed us to sail right to our camp site for the evening which took a further two hours to reach. Known as First Island but also recognised as Bird Island. The wind subsided by 5:30 p.m. as we reached our destination and 14 yachts dropped anchor at safe distances. Aquafox and Nakita lifted their keels and preferred to beech their boats having lost all trust in our taxi driver based on recent history.

Let me prepare you for what was about to happen. Imagine 30 hooligans, 50 kg’s of steak and 200 litres of alcohol left on a deserted island for a night. It was straight onto the island and into braai mode. Plenty cooler bags appeared, picnic rugs and the more cultured folk brought along camping chairs. Christine Gerber brought her own cache of 50 plastic shot glasses and pannekoek shots delicately laced with cinnamon were given to everyone over 18 who were obliged to engage in the pannekoek ritual. The party was soon in full swing in true H23 fashion where nothing is held back. All the ragging and name calling is all done in good spirit and as expected, Ray didn’t get away without a verbal spurring for his earlier actions. There was so much meat that only half was prepared for this meal which was more than ample and the rest was kept for steak rolls the following day. By 9 p.m. most people went back to their boats being driven by a drunken taxi driver. The usual party animals kept going until 11ish.

Monday sadly arrived as this was the final day of the Holiday 23 Masters 2012 event. By 8 a.m. the balance of our mess on the island had been cleaned and left in pristine condition then it was anchors up and a convoy of yachts motored their way down the river towards the Vaal dam. By 10 a.m. the wind had built up enough to allow the rest of the journey to be sailed and the next hour was hard sailing with strong winds and many tacks. Just the way we like it. The plan was to sail back to PNYC which we all voted in favour without hesitation based on the previous day’s experience. We thought it would be alright just to barge in 50 strong. Use their facilities and have a braai with our leftover meat. As expected, we were invited into the club with open arms by Commodore Vince and Erica his wife. Had a braai, made a mess then cleaned up and left. The final part of the itinerary was to sail back to our home base – Harbour Town at our own pace without a racing start. We just so happened to be the first boat with sails up and first out of the moorings. The wind was holding steady at 12 – 14 knots with the occasional gust and for the 4th day running, we had ideal sailing conditions. I looked back to see the whole fleet spread out and in full pursuit of each other. That particular scene was one that will be ingrained in my memory forever, it was just so special and typifies what group sailing is all about. Another unofficial race was underway with Windfall skippered by Erwee Lourens on our back and gave us no space for error the entire way. This leg took just over an hour and a half of exhilarating sailing to put the cherry on the top of one of the most enjoyable sailing weekends I have ever experienced.

Prize giving was held that evening at the Dodo Restaurant. Coenie Thiart our chairman who came all the way with Ernie from Cape Town to enjoy the weekend with us was called forward to give a speech about the history of the H23 and how it came to being. Each boat skipper was called forward and given a bottle of wine with a pottery baked plaque bearing the H23 star emblem and made with loving care by Christine Gerber. Next were all the individual boat placings where the first 3 boats were awarded a prize. There was also a monitory gesture put aside for Rob Morris who trailed his boat all the way from Ebenezer Dam   The NSRI sting was next and produced a bowl full of red notes in excess of R800. The food was served haute cuisine with steak, seafood and vegetables and ended with a pudding to calm the taste buds. Everybody who attended the Masters sailing week looked so content, healthy, sun weathered and ready for bed. An end to a fantastic event.


When Angelo Lavranos was commissioned to the drawing board, the brief was to design a boat for the whole family that is easy to sail, robust enough to handle in off shore conditions, spacious enough to sleep a family of 6 people comfortably, minimum maintenance, toilet facilities, cooking facilities, easy to tow by trailer with a 2.5 litre car, the impossible was achieved and the result was the birth of the Holiday 23. After 30 years, the H23 still remains one of the most sought after boats in the South African market and if you have ever had the pleasure of sailing one with your family onboard for a weekend, you will then understand how the design has successfully stood the test of time.  This is exactly why we are able to have such enjoyable and successful weekends as the Masters sailing event.

I am definitely of the opinion that there is space on the annual calendar to fit another few 2 day (weekend) events. This would build camaraderie and sailing experience. An inexpensive self catering weekend with no entry fees. Just come along and eat, drink and sail. It’s that simple.


 The first 3 boats overall were 1st* Robbie Whitecross on Nakita 2nd* Rob Morris on Lothlorien and 3rd* Michaela Robinson and her brother Ryan who also assisted with helm work on Oran Mor. Last prize went surprisingly to Erwee Lourens on Windfall. He is a competitive sailor and also a good sport for not mentioning all the pitfalls he experienced through the weekend. He did mention that “THE ROCK” a pink stone trophy (with a light inside it) he received for coming last will become a floating trophy in the future. He really intends getting rid of this one. This trophy symbolises coming stone last, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

 Thank you:

Coenie Thiart (for initiating the Masters), Ernie Kleynhaus and Philippe Pringiers who travelled all the way from the Cape to be with us

Rob Morris and family who trailed Lothlorien all the way from Ebenezer Dam to add to the fun

Mike Russell from Harbour Town for hosting The Holiday 23 Association. Absolutely ideal facilities. We’ll be knocking again

Mike and Jill Robinson for facilitating Three Wishes as the bridge boat and offering your experience and time as Bridge Officer and MC

Annatjie at LDYC for making your facilities available including your fantastic hosting staff

Vince, Erica and Peter from PNYC for hosting 2 enjoyable afternoons and your invaluable input

Jasper and Ina vd Westhuizen for assisting with organizing the Masters. Controlling funds, legalities and itineraries

Roux and Christine for assisting with organizing the Masters. Including Catering, selflessly giving up your sailing time to include a motor escort /safety officer/taxi DrIvEr

Allan Rosenberg – itineraries and chief bottle washer










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