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Governor’s Cup Race - Battling winds off the South African coast

by Sue Pelling in conjunction with ADPR on 26 Dec 2012
2012 Governor’s Cup Race - Canace CAN DO! Jan Theron
The fleet in the Governor’s Cup race are now three days into the 1,700-mile downwind journey from Simon’s Town to the remote island of St Helena in the Atlantic.

After a near perfect start from False Bay Yacht Club on Saturday, and a tricky and tactical first couple of days, the 19-strong fleet is beginning to settle into life at sea off the Western coast of South Africa.

Most of the fleet have experienced light airs generally from the south-west (from zero to 11kts) over the last 24 hours but the forecast shows more wind expected, which should improve overall progress of the race towards St Helena, particularly for those nearer the coast of Africa.

The crew aboard Unwind – Niels and Margret Hendrik’s Simonis Voogd 501 design – advised Cape Town Radio yesterday of their retirement due to rudder problems. They arrived at Yachtport, Saldanha Bay yesterday afternoon but they intend to resume their voyage to St Helena once the steering problem is fixed.

According to this morning’s tracker, Kevin Ward’s Elan Impression 434, Canace, sponsored by Nampak Bevcan’s CAN DO!, is currently leading the fleet – on the water. Skippered by Kevin Ward and crewed by a team of six between the ages of 52 and 70, Canace is now in a favourable position to really gain a further advantage on the fleet, she will be hoping that the winds fill in from the South. However, she is currently stuck in an area of high pressure, which could affect her position if the likes of Rob Newman’s Du Toit catamaran – Compromise – one of the early race leaders, maintains her current consistent speed.

Michael/Heidi Kavanagh aboard their Beneteau First 44.7 – Ray of Light – together with their regular race team, and their four-year-old son, Sean, are enjoying a fabulous Christmas. He says they are currently [0800] stuck in no wind but he sounds positive that better sailing conditions are on the way.

'We are now 377 miles into our voyage and are all enjoying a fabulous Christmas Day at sea. We are currently becalmed but sun is shining and everybody is in good spirits. We’ve had one round of Christmas presents this morning, and yesterday we discovered a hunk of pork roast, which somehow sneaked its way onboard. Just before we were about to eat the roast pork we caught a lovely Yellow Tail so we had that for starter. All that is missing is a bit of breeze.'

Plenty of sea life is keeping competitors entertained as they sit in no wind. Kavanagh reported: 'There is lots of sea life, dolphins, and jumping tuna all around, so even though we are stuck in no wind, we feel it is a privilege to be out here. Basically, if you were looking for a cruising and sun-tanning holiday this would be it.'

Being away from home on Christmas Day is not something that seems to worry four-year-old Sean Kavanagh who, according to dad, was given plenty to keep him amused. 'An activity book and coloured pencils, Lego, a little light torch, and a quad bike that pulls an inflatable rubber boat so he can fantasize about pulling and launching his own boat.'

As far as strategy is concerned Kavanagh says the aim is to find the wind. 'At the moment we are pretty close to the coast on the border between South Africa and Namibia and we are now hoping to pick up a bit of breeze. The forecast, which hasn’t been very accurate, suggests we should pick up some breeze during the course of the day and we can begin to work our way offshore towards St Helena. Here’s hoping.'

More details and current positions on the Governor’s Cup Yacht Race can be found here; or by visiting the Governor’s Cup Facebook page.

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