Hannah, 12, sails her way to the top

Kyle, Jill, Hannah and Gilzean Sasman with Hannahs sailing trophies.

Heathfield’s Hannah Sasman may only be 12 years old but she’s already a passionate seafarer with a string of achievements under her belt.

Having already won 12 trophies for various sailing competitions, she took the latest one at the RS Tera World Championship Sailing Regatta in Sweden earlier this month when she finished 16th overall and second out of the 52 female competitors from around the world.

The next RS Tera World Championship will be held in South Africa, in Sedgefield from April 4 to April 9 next year.

When asked if she had a good time in Sweden, Hannah smiles and says simply: “Yes, I did.”

Her mother Jill Sasman, who is also her training manager, accompanied her on the trip. Reflecting on their preparation for the competition, Ms Sasman says while they had trained in strong winds at Zandvlei, they had only had light winds overseas.

However, Hannah learnt fast and managed to cope, she says.

But Hannah, in Grade 6 at Bergvliet Primary, is not a one-trick pony and has a busy schedule populated with many hobbies and extramural activities.

“She is busy the whole week, playing hockey, taking ballet classes, she is a member of Spartans Harriers running club and she is a scout while she still manages to get straight 7s in academics,” her mom says.

And, adds Ms Sasman, Hannah’s Jack of all trades personality stems from her dad Gilzean, who is a rear commodore (an officer of a yacht club) as well as the safety officer at the sea scout base, troop scouter at 2nd Plumstead Scouts and during the night finds time to patrol with the neighbourhood watch.

Mr Sasman says Hannah was bitten by the sailing bug three years ago, at a scouting event which formed part of the Jewish Maritime holiday programme, in which Hannah’s brother, Kyle, 17, was participating while he was doing scout rescue.

Hannah was 9-years-old at the time and she met her best friend Jessica Matchette, who also became a sailing fanatic.

From that day on as Hannah and Jessica’s friendship blossomed, they continued learning how to sail at the Imperial Yacht Club in Zandvlei.

As for the future, Hannah says: “There will be more competitions but I am waiting for the Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028.”