Fri, 2 October 2020

Son and father Mikey and Isaac February have thrown their weight behind the Covid-induced Global Charity Challenge involving Optimist Dinghies anywhere on earth in October.

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THIS SAILING IS A BREEZE: M-Feb gets the hang of his W4C oppie. Photo John Hishin

Mikey, who is back in Cape Town after a stint in the States as poster guy for stylish free surfing, and his dad Isaac, are passionate about protecting the ocean and helping kids who are marginalised or at risk. Among other things, Mikey is an ambassador for Waves for Change and Isaac a longtime committee member of the Sharkspotter Programme.

So when fellow surfer, Greg Bertish, founder of the Little Optimist Childrens Trust, suggested a spot of sailing, both jumped on board. Neither had sailed before. Now they would have to learn to sail in a tiny children’s Optimist.

Because they're the ideal learning tool for children, the Optimist is one of the biggest sailing classes in the world, with more than 150,000 registered Optimist dinghies in more than 100 countries. The Trust uses hospital beautification projects, and a sailing therapy programs, to inspire compromised kids to survive and thrive.


CHARITY CAUSE: M-Feb and Dad-Feb about to get a lesson from Greg Bertish. Photo Grant Scholtz

After some basic instruction by Greg, Mikey and Isaac jumped into their respective Optimists - Mikey in the Waves for Change boat, and Isaac in the Sharkspotters Opi. Despite carrying a little more weight than his slender son, Isaac shot off like a pro.

With almost no room on the tiny boat for an adult to move, Isaac worked the wind and angles as though he had years of sailing knowledge. Mikey was nimble like a cat in his little boat that floated a tad higher. With his trade mark back-hand steering method, Mickey soon picked up the pace. It was man on man, dad and son fun and laughs, with a spot of competitiveness.

After almost an hour, the guys were still tearing up the course. And then it all went pear shaped. Isaac shipped a bath-load of water during an aggressive tack. This was all it took to take the big guy down. Mikey, almost crying with laughter, then suffered from critical equipment failure. A gust of wind tore across the vlei. The blast was too much for the old renovated wooden Oppie from the 70s. The mast plate cracked, and the entire mast and rig came crashing down all around him.


OOPS: M-Feb ponders his broken boat after a catastrophic wind gust. Photo Grant Scholtz

Now the roles were reversed, with Mikey's concern for what he may have done wrong, while his old man laughed, joking that at least he may have come short, but at least he had not destroyed his boat.

Their sailing practice was in preparation for the Global Charity Challenge between 9 and 18 October, where sailors and non-sailors will climb into Optimist dinghies all over RSA and the world to help raise funds and exposure for the Little Optimist Childrens Trust and other charities.

The Covid-19 induced event replaces the Great Optimist Race. Last year it was won by Caleb Swanepoel (shark attack survivor and amputee), with big wave legend Matt Bromley second. Both surfers showed up some far more experienced sailors.

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SINKAGE: Dad-Feb has a heavy moment as his Oppie tries to find the vlei floor. Photo John Hishin

Greg expects a vast variety of venues for the event from canals to dams, aquariums and even swimming pools apart from the open sea. Entrance is R150.

"Support a charity of your choice and get your friends and network to donate and support you. All funds raised are split between the Little Optimist Trust and your chosen charity. The Trust and club Optimists are available for your use, all over Cape Town and RSA.

"Join the challenge with M-Feb and Dad-Feb, Matt Bromley and a bunch of other legend surfers, champions, celebrities, moms, dads, kids and medical survivors!"

Find out more: www.thelittleoptimistglobalrace.org

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