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Capetonian Skipper leads team to victory in South Atlantic Ocean race into home city

by Clipper Round the World Race 11 Nov 2023 07:41 PST
Dare To Lead arrives in Cape Town after winning a stage of the global yacht race © Clipper Race

After a gruelling 3,500nm race across the South Atlantic, from Punta del Este, Uruguay, the Clipper Race fleet is arriving in Cape Town, with Dare To Lead, Skippered by Capetonian Ryan Gibson, taking the win.

This edition of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race features over 700 people, aged 18 to 71, representing 55 nationalities and many diverse walks of life including electricians, orthopaedic surgeons, police sergeants and teachers, and the event's first mother-daughter duo, competing together on a matched fleet of 70ft ocean racing yachts. 22 percent of the crew had never sailed before signing up to the challenge as a mandatory and intensive four stages of training is provided. Each team is led by a professional Skipper and First Mate.

Following weeks of determination, tough conditions and tactics, Dare To Lead crossed the Finish Line at 06:37:10 UTC. This was the second ocean crossing for the fleet on this race edition. To make victory sweeter, Capetonian Skipper Ryan Gibson and his Race Crew, six of whom are also South African, were cheered in like heroes as they arrived home to the Mother City.

Adding to the triumph, Dare To Lead will gain double points on this race, having played the lucrative Joker Card, in addition to two bonus points scooped on placing second in the Scoring Gate.

Skipper Ryan Gibson said: "This feels unbelievable. It's sinking in now, and I am super proud of everyone. To play the joker into my hometown is unbelievable. We just wanted to keep fighting and fighting, we learnt from the other legs to just never give up. It's been a challenging crossing, we had some really high pressure which gave us some good speed, and then this morning ended up in a wind hole. It really has been up and down.

"Everyone is so excited to be here in Cape Town, the South Africans on board have been talking about it so much, so arriving into Table Bay was such a special moment.

"I think as we get off the boat and say hello to our friends and family it's going to be unbelievable. This is definitely a highlight of my career, and it will be forever."

"We just wanted to keep fighting and fighting. We learnt from the other legs to just never give up. It's been a challenging crossing, we had some really high pressure which gave us some good speed, and then this morning ended up in a wind hole - so we had a painfully slow and tense finish. But everyone is so excited to be here in Cape Town. The South Africans on board have been talking about it so much, so arriving into Table Bay this morning was such a special moment. This is definitely a highlight of my career, and it will be forever."

Usually famed for its downwind, fast, surfing conditions, Mother Nature had other ideas for Race 3 on this edition. The eleven Clipper Race teams, made up of non-professional crew from all walks of life, faced unseasonable weather patterns serving up tough headwinds and wind holes, rather than the usual spinnaker sailing promised on such a crossing. However, big low-pressure systems, gusts upwards of 50 knots and fast boat speeds were still on the agenda for this exhilarating race.

A race that began with thick fog, before serving up challenging headwinds, turning light and fickle regularly, meant that tactical decisions were paramount throughout.

Finishing in second place was Perseverance who crossed the Finish Line at 08:41:16 UTC. Skippered by Ineke Van Der Weijden, the team had maintained a strong lead from the get-go, becoming an established leader in the pack on each race, and sitting high on the leaderboard since the Clipper 2023-24 Race got under way in September.

However, with the pride of a home victory in mind, Perseverance was hotly contested by Dare To Lead, who managed to clinch the win in the final days.

Ineke Van Der Weijden, Skipper, said: "The last nine miles were insane! No wind, then wind from all directions- we knew it would be a very slow finish! We are now here in my favourite city, Cape Town. We took a different route, we were closer to the high which slowed us down more than expected and Dare To Lead just had a fantastic 24 hours. When it popped back up after Stealth Mode, we didn't quite expect it but hey, that's sailing! The team just managed to extend its lead until the end.

"We've had quite a different set of circumstances, but the team worked really hard. The conditions were more upwind with wind holes, and low pressures but from the wrong direction... but it wasn't as cold!"

Arriving into the South African city third was Zhuhai, gaining the team a first podium place in the 2023-24 edition. Throughout most of Race 3, Zhuhai and Dare To Lead fought it out between second and third place, making for some addictive Race Viewer action to fans at home as the two yachts chased and overtook each other a number of times on the racecourse.

With no such thing as plain sailing in ocean racing, the team found themselves in a frustrating wind hole just miles from the Finish Line. However, team spirit shone through and it was all smiles on the Finish Line as they crossed at 18:09:06 UTC.

After 19 days at sea, Zhuhai AQP, Mike Davies, jumped off his boat and onto the pontoon to greet his parents Lian and Michael, who had flown out to see him. On the first podium for the team, Mike said: "I am so, so happy and it's great to be here. They pushed hard throughout and to see all the big smiles on their faces makes it all worth it." On Uruguayan team entry Yacht Club Punta del Este hunting down the third-place position in the final stages, Mike continued: "We kept making sail changes, kept checking the tracker to see where they were and every mile we were like yes, another little gain. We'd tell the team straight away and it made them go again."

The yachts are arriving in Cape Town over the next 24 hours, and with more points still to be won, it's now a waiting game to see who will gain the additional bonus points scored in the Ocean Sprint, revealed at the Race 3: TIMEZERO South Atlantic Showdown Prizegiving on 11 November.

The Clipper Race got under way from Portsmouth, UK in September, and so far on this edition, its fleet has sailed over 12,000 nautical miles. Next, the teams will sail across the infamous Roaring Forties from Cape Town to Fremantle before racing around Australia to both Newcastle and Airlie Beach. The next stops on the race route are then Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, Qingdao and Zhuhai - China, Seattle and Washington, DC - USA, before returning to Portsmouth at the end of July 2024, via Oban, Scotland.

Keep up with all the action on the Clipper Race social media feeds and website:

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