Challenging an Optimist for Charity
Greg Bertish and The Little Optimist will be entering this year’s MAC (Milnerton Aquatic Club) 24 Challenge to raise funds for his two favourite charities, NSRI and Children’s Hospital Trust.
On 18th and 19th March Greg plans to sail for a full 24 hours, stopping only for bathroom breaks. To keep the pressure on, sailing legend Kuba Miszewski of Theewaters Sailing Club will be racing against him in a Mirror Dinghy. NSRI Melkbosstrand will once again be on the water backing up the safety boats.
With a beautiful backdrop of Table Mountain in the distance, the MAC challenge is usually sailed in relay fashion with six or seven crew. Competitors as young as 6 years old have enjoyed the fun and camaraderie in this kind of competitive sailing. This year, Greg and Kuba will sail the full 24 hours alone and unaided. After sailing through the night they can look forward to beautiful early morning bird song and sightings of pelicans and flamingos as this is a conservation wetland.
The first endurance race in South Africa was in 1983 when James Tutton sailed non stop for 24 hours in rain and winds of 15-20 knots at Zwartkops Yacht Club in the Eastern Cape. This was not an official race and sadly he was never recognized for this feat. The following year Ian Downing, a 16 year old from Milnerton, decided to follow suit. His Scoutmaster, Dutchie von Nieuwburg, encouraged him to make an event out of it. He completed 29 hours 38 minutes and 10 seconds and his effort was broadcast on SABC. Although never recognized by the Guiness Book of Records, this was an incredible achievement as at the age of 5 he had undergone open heart surgery.
The parallels make this a very special event with Kuba being a scout master and Greg having undergone open heart surgery a number of times. This year is the 20th anniversary of the MAC Challenge, the 50th anniversary of NSRI and this is the year that Greg Bertish boldly took on the challenge to paint the Red Cross Children’s Hospital Red. Funds raised through this challenge will be split between NSRI’s brand new rescue base at Theewaterskloof Dam and the Children’s Hospital Trust.
Sailing is a wonderful spectator sport so bring the family and come and enjoy the day (and night) with us. Pledge your support by making a donation to your favourite cause and help us raise funds for two of Cape Town’s much loved charities.