Nature has a way on sculpturing her own race courses and challenges and once we as humans discover these and align our thinking, this synergy creates events that retain their essence and transcend the evolution of sporting equipment and our sometimes increasingly complicated lives, the Dash to me lives in a place with no speedlimit, where life is free and one somehow comes closer to the essence of why we are drawn to the sea and subconsciously married to the challenge.
The Langebaan Downwind Dash and Double, with Malcolm McGregor’s perennially enthusiastic commitment we have a unique event proudly celebrating it’s 21st anniversary birthday.
Malcolm is as much a part of the Dash as the wheel trophy is,, and it’s not just his organization, ability to integrate and enlist the help of most of the local maritime and safety organizations, but his casual and effective manner that have seen the Dash evolve yet retain it’s special essence of serious fun.
The local very active wind god delivers the potion in conditions we have seen from 15-40knts, between S and SE hence the legs range from a reach to a very very broad reach over the 17km course, however every year is different and Saldanha bay somehow has the penchant of requiring something special or new from us each year. The Dash favours the thinking sailor who blends allround sailing ability in conditions that often vary from balls to the wall blade running to tactical synergy with changing conditions in the middle of the Bay.
Marlon Weibel was Saldanha Bay’s favourite son in the 80’s and with Cameron Bruce ruled the mid to late 80’s era, with the 1988 dash in 30-40knts setting a level that will remain as a benchmark, despite the radical improvement in equipment.
Peter Slate set the pace in the late 80’s and early 90’s with the 1995 Dash being in my opinion the fastest ever, the Dash had many foreign sailors and 30 knts plus that year and well when you take 400m out of Eduardo Bellini(E9),, who had beat Bjorn that year, well that’s going,, Peter.
Craig Gertenbach and Matthew Swart also won the Dash more than once, I know because I came second 4 times behind them!!
Kiting entered the Dash in the late nineties and while on some wind angles and strengths they have been competitive, they are yet to put it together,, I feel that with the advancement in kiteboard and fin technology, their race may well come!
The race has also attracts hobie cats and there are Dashes where I believe the Formula 18 Hobie Tigers would have been and will be competitive,, The Langebaan beach cats led by Jaco Smith actively enter the race and somehow lend another dimension and colour to an already interesting kaleidoscope.
To me the Dash is timeless, I have been doing it since I was 16 and hopefully it will always remain a day to see friends, explore limits on the water and simply have a blast.