Cape Town - The second
start of the 2017 Cape2Rio presented by Maserati was the number one drawcard at
the V&A Waterfront on New Year’s Day.
The first round of yachts set sail on December 26, 2016, but on January 1, 2017 it was the turn of the racing yachts to set sail
from Table Bay, with 20 yachts leaving Cape Town for Rio in warm conditions and
a gentle breeze blowing.
In all, nine countries were represented by the
departing boats, ranging from South Africa to Russia.
the longest continent-to-continent yacht race in the southern hemisphere,
spanning 3 500 nautical miles.
Now that the competitors have departed Cape Town,
they will head north-west towards Ilha Trindade island in the southern Atlantic Ocean
and then on to South America.
incredibly exciting and fulfilling to see the yachts and the high calibre of
sailors taking part in 2017,” says event director Simon Borchert.
attracted a stunning field from around the world for this iconic race and we’re
looking forward an excellent event. Cape Town is an iconic destination and to
be able to host and start a race like the Cape2Rio further enhances the global appeal
of the city.”
As the boats
prepared to leave for Rio on New Year’s Day, most participants were engaged in
final checks and then long farewell hugs with family members. Jose Guilherme
Caldas, owner of Angolan entry Team Angola Cables - Mussulo 40 was in high
spirits, primed and ready for his second Cape2Rio.
“We are very excited to
start and to get the boat out on the water,” he said.
“Our skipper Leonardo
Chicourel is actually from Brazil, so we are really taking part in the race so
we can get him home!”
for line honours at the race include Runaway (Peru) and Russian boat Weddel. To
ensure Runaway and her crew arrived in Cape Town in the best possible shape for
the Cape2Rio, the yacht has sailed in the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race (1 300
miles) and the Pacific-Cup Race from San Francisco to Hawaii (2 000 miles).
member Tom Corkett says their main race ambitions are to get to Rio in the best
“The length of the race is a challenge but we are looking
forward to trade wind sailing in off the wind surfing conditions, in which
As for Weddel,
skipper Vladimir Kulinichenko believes they have a great mix of talents on
board to ensure a successful southern Atlantic crossing.
“We have a combination
of experienced offshore sailors and amateur sailors eager to discover and learn
more about offshore sailing,” he says.
“We have an older boat but she is
specifically made for this kind of sailing and that gives us reassurance in our
In the race
for handicap honours at the Cape2Rio, the duel looks to be set between local
boat Lion of Africa Vulcan (42-footer) and German boat The Black Pearl
Vulcan is owned and skippered by Cape Town sailor Hylton Hale.
This will be his and Vulcan’s first Cape2Rio, as well as crew member Sarah
“Over the last few days we’ve been putting in a lot of work
to get the boat ready; loading it with food and other supplies, and doing final
preparation,” says Niedzwiecki-Mecoy.
Lion of Africa
Vulcan isn’t designed for ocean crossings, so in the build-up to the event the
boat has been outfitted to handle the rigours of the Cape2Rio.
“The guys have
done a lot of work to get her ready for the Cape2Rio,” says Niedzwiecki-Mecoy.
“They’ve installed a water maker, safety gear for offshore racing and satellite
communication technology. This is my first Cape2Rio, so I’m looking forward to
some good downwind sailing, and also what they call ‘champagne’ sailing!”
Pearl is also a first-time entrant, made up with a mostly South African crew,
many of whom are experience ocean crossers.
One is Mark Sadler.
“This is my
third Cape2Rio and I’m looking forward to getting onto the water again. There
are no nerves or butterflies; just excitement. I think if things go our way
we’re looking at 12 days to do the crossing; worst case scenario, 14.”
skipper of the Black Pearl Stefan Jentzsch believes that his boat has what it
takes to perform well at the Cape2Rio, but also acknowledges the tough field.
“We are a racing team and while we want to have fun in what we do, we compete
to win. But we also recognise that we have some very formidable competition, so
a good race awaits.”
entrant into this year’s event is the 26-year-old Scatterling yacht. Its crew
of five is made up entirely of current and recently graduated UCT students, all
taking part in their first Cape2Rio (though the yacht itself has completed the
event three times).
Along the way
the crew will also be engaging in some research for the UCT Department of
Oceanography and the South African Weather Service.
“On our way to Rio we’ll
drop off surface drifting buoys that will gather information on the ocean
currents for UCT, while on the top of our mast we’ll have a mini weather
station that will send data to the South African Weather Service,” says
Scatterling navigator Alex Lehtinen.
“The weather data will help improve
weather models for South Africa, so the next time you check the weather on your
news feed the update will probably be coming from us.”
Ray Matthews was upbeat about this latest edition of the famous race.
an extremely high class field, with the largest yacht at 80 foot (24.38 metres)
and some proven race boats around the 50 foot size. These vessels have come
from Peru, Russia, Argentina, Brazil, UK, Angola, India and Germany and we
expect some exciting results.”