PORT Elizabeth’s Joshua Woolard stayed his own course to take line honours in the Nations Cup during the RS Tera World Championship in Weymouth, England, last week.
Representing South Africa in the Tera Sport class, the Cape Recife pupil, 17, outmanoeuvred junior sailors from five countries over five rounds of the one-lap elimination event.
Woolard, who normally races in the larger- sailed Pro class, triumphed over the technical course by choosing a surprising tack and racing apart from the rest of the field.
“I just wanted to get off the start as fast as possible and stay out of everyone’s bad air so I could have the fastest boat on the water. I was reading the wind and saw more of it on the side. In the end it paid off,” he said.
Woolard jumped the start of round two and had to do a 360° turn before setting off in pursuit of the four remaining boats. Ignoring spectators’ cries to tack, he went in a different direction to close the gap faster than expected and sneak into a surprise second place.
This maverick strategy proved even more successful in the third race when he crossed the line first. Woolard once again defied expectations in the penultimate round as he pushed on the inside line to nose the host nation, England, out of contention.
In the nail-biting final he was sitting just inside his lone remaining rival heading into the last buoy. The commentator had already called the race in New Zealand’s favour when Woolard tacked within sight of the finish to take the trophy for Team South Africa.
He finished the championship, with 122 sailors from nine countries competing, in 15th place overall, with Grey High School’s Justin Harth placing 40th out of 51 in the Pro fleet.