As the 18-strong Governor’s Cup fleet make its final approach to St Helena on this 1,750-mile race from Simon’s Town, South Africa, competition is really beginning to intensify.
Banjo - 2012 Governor’s Cup Race
The overall line honours trophy is still very much up for grabs with Banjo – Kevin Webb’s Farrier F9AX trimaran – now threatened by Sandpiper 2 – Abri Erasmus/Paul Tanner’s Simonis Voogd 42ft catamaran. Until two days ago Banjo had established a solid lead, but the Gordon’s Bay Yacht Club team on Sandpiper 2, has sailed well over the last couple of days and is now set to launch a challenge.
The current leader of the Multihull class, on handicap, is Robert Newman’s Du Toit catamaran – Compromise.
Paul Tanner – skipper of Sandpiper 2 – says that Banjo is just 40 miles to starboard so the final part of the race is going to be tough. Sandpiper 2 is currently in a south-easterly breeze. 'We are in direct competition with Banjo at the moment so we are reluctant to give too much away. However, we can report it is very hot at 30 degrees C. We have 20 per cent cloud cover, one and a half metres of swell, and a cross chop against main swell makes it a bit uncomfortable. All going well and our watch system is really working well between six of us. We each do a two-hour stint on the helm, two hours as stand by during daylight hours, and one and a half hours at night in each role, that relates to four hours on, and eight hours off in daylight. We have not seen another boat for five days, so we are looking forward to closing in soon.'
Sandpiper 2 - 2012 Governor's Cup Race
The battle for overall handicap honours in the Racing Monohull fleet, is equally intense between John Levin’s Stadt 34 Indaba, and Thinus Groenewald’s Royal Cape One-Design – Reaction. The current situation shows that either of these two are in with a chance of an overall Governor’s Cup win but it will depend on what conditions are thrown at the fleet as it approaches St Helena.
Another team who could have been in with a chance of an overall Governor’s Cup win had they not elected to race within the Rally Mononhull fleet (which doesn’t qualify for the overall trophy) is False Bay Yacht Club members aboard JML Rotary Scout, a Tosca 39. This team co skippered by Peter Bosch and Mark Jennings and crewed by a group of Scouts from Cape Town and St Helena aged between 16-18 years old, has sailed exceptionally well and have managed to overtake Ivan Flodgren and the Swedish team, aboard their Hallberg Rassey Rasmus 35 – Kuheli – who have led the Rally Monohull division since the start.
JML Rotary Scouts - 2012 Governor's Cup Race
The Fisher family aboard Bryana, a Dudley Dix 38ft steel-hulled, home-completed yacht, is currently leading the race for the Family trophy and in third place overall in the Rally Monohull fleet. Luke (52) and Monica (46) together with their two children – Todd (14) and Amy (13) are enjoying a fun Christmas break. Before they left Simon’s Town at the start, they said that spending Christmas together on the ocean means a lot to them. 'It will be the first time we have crossed an ocean together and none of us have ever been to St Helena before, so it will be a big adventure all round.'
Elsewhere, Adrian Pearson/Dave Immelman’s Didi 38 – Black Cat – which suffered power failure and had to make a detour for repair for repairs, has now left Luderitz on the African coast, and is back on course again towards St Helena.
RMS St Helena – one of the world’s last operating mail ships – is now in St Helena awaiting the first arrivals. The ship, which shadowed the fleet all the way from Simon’s Town with family and friends of those in the race on board, will transport many of the competing yachts back to Simon’s Town once the race is over. Billy Leisegang, the principal race officer, who made the voyage on the ship, commented from St Helena this morning.
'There is a tremendous atmosphere on the island at the moment. Everyone is so excited about the arrival of the yachts. At this stage we are not exactly sure of the ETA of the first finishers but we are guessing the first boats will arrive late on 1 January or early morning on 2 January. The good news is, there is a strong wind here so it’s a good sign it will be a very fast finish, and they may even arrive sooner than predicted.'
More details on the Governor’s Cup Yacht Race can be found on the Governors Cup website; or by visiting the Governor’s Cup Facebook Page.