Local boy David Shilton is one of South Africa’s top competitive sailors – and (we’re proud to say) one of our amazing skippers.
With dreams of one day competing in the Americas Cup, and of sailing as a tactician or a skipper on a classic J-Class, this youngster’s going places. (A J-Class, by the way, “is a single masted racing sailboat built to the specifications of Nathanael Herreshoff’s Universal Rule… considered the peak racers of the era when the Universal Rule determined eligibility in the Americas Cup” – Wikipedia.)
David learned to sail on Hartbeespoort Dam outside Pretoria, and quickly found a passion for competition. He won the National Laser Youth Sailing Championship in both 2007 and 2008, and achieved podium finishes on his Finn in 2008 and 2009. (“The Finn dinghy is the men’s single-handed, cat-rigged Olympic class for sailing” – Wikipedia.)
He qualified as a navy diver and a naval skipper during his four years in the South African Navy (2008-2012) – and also crewed on the Navy’s Fast 42 in the Cape to Rio Race, and skippered for the South African Defence Force at the World Military Sailing Championships in Brazil and Poland.
Shew! We’re getting breathless here.
David sailed as the bowman and crew-boss for South Africa in the Youth America Cup in San Francisco in 2013, and raced four Caribbean regattas in 2013 and 2014 – including crewing on the classic, 132-foot super yacht, Rebecca.
And as if that CV isn’t impressive enough, he’s one of the skippers on Springtide Sailing Charters’ 50’ luxury yacht, ‘Outeniqua.’
“I’m passionate about every thing about sailing,” said David. “I love the fact that it’s a team sport, and I love the fact that sometimes it’s just you and the boat.”
And he loves the history of the sport, too. His most recent exploit? He crewed on the Olin Stephens-designed 52’ yawl, Dorade, in the 2015 Trans-Atlantic Race.
“Probably my biggest achievement this far. I love antique boats and going back in time – you realise how tough those guys had to be in those days.
“It’s cool to be part of history.
“Dorade won the Trans-Atlantic Race in the 1930s, and her current owner wants to repeat that – and I want to be part of that, too.”
And what does he love about sailing Outeniqua and (when he has the time) skippering Ocean Odyssey’s whale-watching boats?
“I love showing people the waters here. For a lot of our guests, it’s their first time sailing, and many of them say that it’s the best thing they’ve done on their holidays – and that makes my work very satisfying,” he said.
And we totally agree.