Since the Governor’s Cup got underway on Saturday 22 December, generally light winds have made progress on this 1,700-mile downwind race from Simon’s Town to the remote island of St Helena in the Atlantic, slow going.
2012 Governor’s Cup Race
The leaders of the 18-strong fleet are now approaching the half-way stage of the race, but still suffering as they struggle to find consistent wind, and it now looks as though the first finishers won’t arrive at Jamestown, St Helena before 1/2 January.
Kevin Webb’s Farrier F9AX – Banjo – by far the fastest boat in the fleet, has strengthened her lead both on the water, and on handicap but Abri Erasmus/Paul Tanner’s Simonis Voogd 42ft catamaran – Sandpiper 2 – also racing in the Rally Multihull fleet, is continuing to sail consistently, which could put a threat to Banjo’s advantage.
In the Racing Monohull fleet another close battle ensues between John Levin’s Stadt 34 – Indaba – and Thinus Groenewald’s Royal Cape One-Design – Reaction. Indaba has stuck more to the west, nearer the rhumb line while Reaction has opted for the easterly route, which puts her in a more favourable position given the current forecast. Off the coast of Namibia winds are currently 20-24kts south-south-easterly, while further off the coast where the main fleet is winds are between 12-14kts from the south-east.
Kevin Ward’s Elan Impression 434, Canace, sponsored by Nampak Bevcan’s CAN DO!, crewed by a team of six between the ages of 52 and 70, is also appears to be holding a good position. She logged 900 miles since the start and is currently charging along under spinnaker in an 11kt south-easterly breeze. Speaking from the boat at 1030 (UTC) today, crewmember Steve Robinson said: 'We’ve not seen another boat for days but we are having great fun and enjoying every minute. We have 954 miles to go and the plan now is to stick to a course of 303 degrees and hopefully that will take us straight to the island. We also believe that where we have positioned ourselves we will benefit from stronger winds forecast. Actually, the wind is in our favour now and everything is going well so we’ll be concentrating on getting optimum speed from our boat.'
RMS St Helena – one of the world’s last operating mail ships – is shadowing the fleet as it makes its way to St Helena. All the race officials including Billy Leisegang, the principal race officer, and family and friends of all those in the race, are enjoying a fun Christmas break onboard. Once the race is finished, all the yachts, crews and families will be transported safely on the ship back to Simon’s Town. Leisegang, speaking from the ship this morning, said they are now in sight of St Helena. 'We are approaching the island now and there’s a nice south-easterly blowing about 15kts. We are cruising along at half speed, having averaged too high a speed in the calm conditions all the way from Cape Town – ETA St Helena 14:00.'
Michael/Heidi Kavanagh’s Beneteau First 44.7 – Ray of Light – which dismasted off the coast of Namibia in the early hours of Boxing Day, is now en-route back to Cape Town. Thankfully all crew including the Kavanagh’s four-year-old son, Sean, were unharmed but it was a real blow to the team who were progressing well when the accident happened. According to Michael Kavanagh the wind was just 15kts and they were flying the spinnaker when the top section of the mast failed. Kavanagh commented: 'Looking at the rig, the port cap shroud had pulled from the mast. Why this happened we do not know yet. We have all the pieces, so when the experts get to take a look we will no doubt be able gain more insight into the failure. We are all devastated. Even more so given our meticulous preparations for the race and the fact that the mast was pulled from the boat and extensively serviced just six months ago. However, as we all know, accidents happen despite thorough preparation. We had worked hard to get ourselves into a north-easterly position and our race strategy was starting to play out nicely.'
This morning they were at a position of 27deg 25.0S by 014deg 37.4E, sailing in 15 knots of southerly breeze and big swell. Kavanagh said: 'We are motor sailing with storm jib and tiny main. Hard going, but we remain resolute. Had to climb the mast again as the cap shroud that pulled loose started slamming into the rigging. Monitoring chafe points. Heidi and Sean a little sea sick. Praying for less headwind!'
Adrian Pearson/Dave Immelman’s Didi 38 – Black Cat – which suffered power failure and was making a detour to Walvis Bay for repairs yesterday, is now on route to Luderitz to pick up new batteries and an alternator.
Governors Cup website