Benji crowned world champ at sailing comp

Thomas More College's Benji Daniel with his sailing partner, Alex Burger. PHOTO: Matias Capizzano

THOMAS More College’s Benji Daniel is its high school SPAR Star of the Month.

The 16-year-old started sailing in the UK when he was only 10 years old and attended an Easter holiday sailing course and soon discovered he loved it. He moved to South Africa four years ago and soon after that represented South Africa at the international regattas in different types of boats.

This month, Benji and his team member from Cape Town, Alex Burger (21), were crowned number one at the Zhik 29er World Champions in Alamitos Bay Yacht Club, Long Beach, California.

They finished third in the opening event, the US Nationals, and then went on to the three-day qualifiers where they earned a spot in the Gold Fleet taking top step on the podium after three days of ultimate racing against the top 50 29er sailors in the world. Benji and Alex are the only team in South African 29er history to take the top spot in the Zhik 29er World Championships.

Benji and Alex, who have only been sailing together for four months, beat 128 other international teams without even having to sail the last two races, which of course they did. They had incredible consistency in the big fleet and with challenging conditions they finished with a marvellous 33 points over the second place French team who ended on 56 points.

They finished the event in style by winning the last race of the championship.

Benji is one of two members of his sailing club, Point Yacht Club in Durban, to ever win a World Championship, and he is certainly the youngest. This is Benji’s second 29er Worlds, the first was in Pwhelli in Wales in 2015. Since then, he has also represented South Africa in two World Sailing Youth Worlds on a 29er in Malaysia (2015) and New Zealand (2016).



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Lloyd Mackenzie

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