South African sailor Matt Ashwell won six of his eight races to take top honours at the African Optimist Championships in Maputo, Mozambique.
The Capetonian beat Mozambican Denise Parruque, who was the top girl overall into second place with Mohammed Al Qasmi of Oman rounding off the podium.
The 15-year-old Ashwell finished second overall at the 2016 championships in Angola.
“In the months leading up to the regatta, I was aiming to achieve gold but this changed once I saw the entry list,” the SACS High School student said
“The Angolan that won in 2016 was participating, as well as sailors from Oman. Two of the sailors from Oman I had met at World Championships, one of which had finished considerably better than me.
“My goal then was to get a podium finish. After the first day’s racing in Maputo, my results were great. I then decided finally to try and win the championships.”
Optimists are generally the boats most youngsters learn to sail on before they move on to larger things.
“My favourite race was definitely the last one. It was blowing between 18 and 23 knots and it was close from the start,” Aswell said.
“I am quite small compared to a lot of the bigger sailors, and so I had to hike hard throughout the whole race.
“By the last few hundred metres of the race, my legs were burning, but I knew that this could be the last race that I would ever sail on an Optimist.”
Compatriot Ingrid Holm finished second overall in the girls’ competition while the South African team took
Over 100 of the country’s young sailors will now converge on the Vaal Dam for the National Youth Championships, which run from December 15 to 20.