stand and deliver
Entries for this annual summer event topped out at 104 with some very competitive boats in the mix including a brace of Hobie Tigers, several big cats, a Dragonfly trimaran, a solitary Flying Tiger 10 trucked up from Durban and the usual mix of keelers from 40 to 65 ft. The Pacer 27 Sport one design class used this event as part of their national championships. This event has shown steady growth and now holds the position of the undisputed top offshore sailing event here. Most of the nation’s top sailors were there, keen to strut their stuff. This year the event was filmed for TV coverage adding some extra sparkle to proceedings.
The event is run as a long distance race of 65nm from Cape Town to Saldanha Bay on a Friday, broken up into three segments by a gate off Dassen Island. The following day after some serious partying at the Club Mykonos resort in the Langebaan Lagoon, a 26nm pursuit race is run, after which another major party happens. Boats then have the Sunday to head back to Cape Town – upwind and up current – a sobering prospect at the 0500 departure time with a hangover.
This year, the weather gods were up to the task providing a stiff south easterly at the start of around 40 knots, which provided for some spectacular broaches. After a short windward leg, the fleet (which is split into two divisions, the slower boats kicking off at 0830 and the faster at 0900) take off for a very long and fast downwind run to Club Mykonos. The breeze moderated down to 10 knots at the halfway mark, picking back up to 25 knots towards the end of the race. There were two incidents – one which prompted a medical evacuation when the skipper of a 34 footer took a knock to the head leaving her unconscious for 10 minutes. The NSRI were called out to help the boat back to port in the gale force winds. Further down the race track a crew member got separated from his craft when a Hobie Tiger capsized, but he too received quick and able assistance from a well run shore based rescue operation. The back half of the fleet in the pursuit race was given a solid slap in the face when a very large oil tanker decided to enter Saldanha Bay and anchor right across the path of the course. The local pilot boat aggressively sounded his claxon demanding that yachts clear the area immediately which resulted in a large number of retirements.
The sports boats fielded an entry of 8 boats included six Pacer 27 Sport boats, one Beneteau FC 7.5 and one FT10. It was the Pacer 27’s that completely dominated the distance race by scooping the first 5 positions leaving all and sundry in their wake. Pictured here is the 1st placed Pacer 27 “Felix the Cat” skippered by Alan Lawrence bursting through a wave at high speed. (Red spinnaker). The other picture (Blue spinnaker)shows the 3rd placed Pacer 27 “Regent Express” moments before hitting a top speed of 22.8 knots.
An outstanding event, well run, great parties, good weather, outstanding sailing conditions. What else is there?