The next generation

By James on 30 Jun. 2018

A welcome feature of the GC32 Lagos Cup is the sea of children and adults alike, all clad in lemon yellow T-shirts. Many are part of the development program at the local Clube de Vela de Lagos, helping out with the GC32 Lagos Cup, assisting course marshalls, on the race committee boat and elsewhere.

“The main idea is to involve the kids, to get them more involved in the GC32 Racing Tour,” explains Rui Raimundo, who is racing manager and coach at the Clube de Vela de Lagos.

15-year-old Camila Poucochinho, for example, who has just graduated up from the Laser 4.7 to the Laser Radial, is helping out with the course marshalls. “I have learned a lot and it is really good to have done that,” she said. “It has been exciting. I get to speak on the VHF. I feel like a secret agent!”

The kids involved in the GC32 Lagos Cup range in age from 7 to 16 and depending upon their age sail Optimists or one of the different flavours of Laser. Today was particularly special for them as they got to sail their own boats out on the familiar waters of the Bay of Lagos, but on the GC32 race course.

“They are helping with the main event but we did this to try and get them more involved with the GC32s – they have never done a reaching start or a windward gate, although the course will be scaled down,” says Raimundo.

This doubled as a memorial race, called the GC32 Lagos Ezra Cup after 30-year-old Ezra Wansik, a key member of the yacht club and its sailing squad, who died just over a month ago. “He was a member of the team and sailed every weekend,” says Raimundo. “He was also one of my helpers, because we have a big squad, he drove the second van, etc. We were doing a race off the beach and he didn’t show up for work as he had had a motorcycle accident. So today we remember him.”

One of the luckiest of the children has been Tomás Fortunato (above), youngest son of Martinho Fortunato, Commodore of Clube de Vela de Lagos and himself a former 420 World Champion (he too has history with the GC32 class – our Chief Umpire Miguel Allen is still in therapy having for three years in a row been beaten into second place by Martinho at the Portuguese 420 Nationals!)

The Fortunato family is sailing mad. Tomás’ elder syblings are away following in their parents’ footsteps competing in the 420 Nationals this week. So when the invitation arrived to go for a sail on Federico Ferioli’s Código Rojo Racing, this fell to 12-year-old Tomás – ironic as he’s the member of the family least hooked on sailing. His no1 sport is…table tennis.

“It was very cool!” said Tomás of his experience. “When the final race finished I was asked to come on board and then the skipper told me to steer it! I was kind of nervous.” He added that they flew, although they only got up to about 15 knots.

His father has a Moth, so perhaps his Tomás is not yet the speed record holder of the family. Nonetheless his ride has caused considerable envy among his family. “My sister was going ‘I don’t want to hear about it!’” recounts Tomás.

So perhaps he will become a Moth sailor? “No, a GC32 sailor!”

GC32 Lagos Ezra Cup was won today by Diogo Freitas in the Laser 4.7 and Jannis Tomaz claimed the Optimist prize.