I’m thrilled beyond to be working with Cape 2 Rio Yacht Race 2020 as a media partner this year. Especially to be present as the 22 boats prepared to make their Atlantic crossing, and to be seeing off the Cruisers in First Start and the Racers in Second Start, before heading across to Rio to meet them there.
The iconic Cape to Rio Yacht Race began nearly 49 years ago in part to encourage South African sailors to attempt ocean passages. It remains a valued point of reflection for all participants as they chase the deep ocean and that soul-enhancing reflection that comes from being offshore for an extended period of time.
Years of preparation, dreaming and hard work came to fruition for 13 of these participating Cape2Rio2020 teams as they took to the blue and rather calm waters of Table Bay, hoisting their sails and embarking on Start One of this adventure of a lifetime, at 14h00 local time on Saturday 4th January 2020.
Family, friends and enthusiasts excitedly gathered in support at the Royal Cape Yacht Club (RCYC) as the teams carried out last minute checks ahead of their departure. The ambience was rich with anticipation, the crew’s desire to get going, palpable. Formalities had the RCYC Commodore Neil Gregory officially welcome everybody to the club before inviting Race Chairman Luke Scott to introduce the various teams departing in this the cruising category of the event.
Addressing the crowd, Luke noted all the young children collected for the occasion and remarked on how integral they are to the sport of sailing, and to carrying the tradition of the Cape2Rio race forward – hopefully participating in it themselves one day. This is the 16th edition of the premier ocean sailing event that has been held roughly every 3 years since 1971, with competitors aged between 15 and 75 years among those taking part this year.
An underlying theme among the 2020 competitors is their desire to give back as they go, with many adopting their own cause or fundraising project in a Sail4Good commitment to the ocean, the environment and their chosen sport. Mayor Dan Plato endorsed the City of Cape Town’s support of the event and wished all the sailors a safe passage to Rio de Janeiro before the fleet was blessed by Padre Tony Bethka.
After that it was the last emotional farewells and enthusiastic waves goodbye as the skippers piloted their vessels and crew out of the marina towards Quay 4 in the V&A Waterfront. Here the public sail-past was met by enthusiastic spectators who’d gathered to see off the boats.
After this, and against the picturesque setting of Table Mountain and Lions’ Head that was framed by a clear blue sky, the group of contenders settled in the start area off Mouille Point Lighthouse. A light Westerly wind flicked at the raised sails as they jostled for the best position in anticipation of the start.
By now nerves were heightened, and at 13h50 the horn signalled the final countdown to the race. At 14h00 the time had come to set sail and they were off, with Mojie, San Salvador, Umoya, Argonaut and JM Busha 54 the first yachts around the inshore marker – before running down parallel to the promenade past the waterfront, across the bay to Milnerton Lighthouse, and then heading up the Cape west coast with destination: Rio.
For these racing teams, the wait might be over, but the long voyage and work has just begun, as has the course length of approximately 3600 nautical miles. For this fleet, the South Atlantic crossing is estimated to take about 3 weeks with arrival in Rio de Janeiro towards the end of the month.
Their individual stories and personal goals driving them on cold nights and over big swells, as they go. Right now they are positioned off the west coast at Elandsbaai, having made slow progress while waiting for stronger southerly winds.
Do track their progress and read more about their respective stories, crews and missions at Cape2Rio2020.com. Better still connect on Instagram and Facebook and support their significant fundraising efforts.
We look forward to sharing regular updates from the skippers and crews as we follow their race to Rio, and the centenary celebrations of the Iate Clube do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
May ‘fair winds and following seas’ find them all.
Destination Cape Town, what a blue-tinged beauty you are. This background makes me proud. What an incredible display and proud point of departure for this premier ocean sailing event. Enhanced by the hoisting of dancing sails on the light wind and the indomitable spirit of the participating sailors that I was there to see off.
Join us at the Royal Cape Yacht Club on Saturday 11th January 2020 for the Second Start.
First Start Competitors.
Reinforcing a long tradition of entries from the Vaal Dam participating in the Cape2Rio, owner Hubert Saayman’s dream unfolded while he and his wife were sailing there in 2017. Chasing that mission with much determination and all the required preparation, Hubert joined forces with Skipper Roux Gerber, navigator Wynand Grové and Chef and Deckhand José da Silva. They are using the opportunity to raise funds for the NSRI Sea Rescue Vaal Dam. Making their mark, they did their V&A Waterfront lap in “FAF” SA Flag underwear, which will no doubt be seen on the other side. Follow them on Instagram.
JML Rotary Scout
The average age of this young crew is 17, with the youngest among them only 15 years old. Skippers Nicholas Chapman and Daniel Skriker are both just 21 and are joined by Mika Wessels, Max Elsworth, Ewan Blamire, Matthew Williams and Joshua Jackson between 16 and 18, with Dominic Holling the ‘baby’. Everyone on the team began their Scouting journeys at the age of 11, learning how to sail on dinghies, working hard to zone their seamanship skills, first aid, navigation and cooking abilities. They fly the Scout flag with pride and so they should. Follow them on Instagram.
All the way from Buenos Aires, this Argentinean entry is driven by Tomas y Leonardo (Leo) Vugman’s desire to fulfil his lifelong dream of sailing from Buenos Aires to Cape Town, and from there compete in the Cape2Rio. At his side is Edmar Almeida, an accomplished Brazilian sailor and friend. Adding an element of fun and memory-making to the mix is their decision to include their two sons on board as crew. Follow them on Instagram.
Skipper Jasper van der Westhuizen bought Tam Tam with an eye to competing in offshore events. The seasoned crew joining him share the dream. Jasper completed in it in 2011, while team member Jose da Silva’s Father competed in the first ever Cape2Rio in 1971. They are paying homage to his journey. Jana Loubser grew up in the Karoo some 400km from the nearest ocean and has wanted to do the race since she was 7 years old, while Ryan Den Drijver has clocked up freshwater miles on the Vaal Dam, and is challenge himself with the crossing. Jasper lost an arm in 2004 due to cancer – something that hasn’t slowed him down. Tam Tam’s crew will be sailing and raising money for those affected by cancer. Follow them on Facebook.
Describing themselves as ‘five Cape Town dudes doing the Cape2Rio race on a Simonis 35’ this team’s spirited passion and drive for life makes them enthused contenders in their class. Pete Martin, owner and skipper, gathered a few friends – some experienced sailors and others that had never sailed before, and collectively they decided that crossing the Atlantic in the prestigious Cape2Rio 2020 race was something for their bucket list. Follow them on Instagram.
JM Busha 54 Sailing Team
A group of six students sailing for Peace and Unity in Africa, co-skippers Michaela and Ryan Robinson competed in the 2011 and 2014 Cape2Rio. This year marks Michaela as the youngest Skipper in the history of the race at just 19 years. The crew includes first-ever Zimbabwean participant Tawanda Chikasha, Emma Clark, Jonathan Ham and Hearn Johnson. Together they bear testimony to the value of sailing as a sport where young people from different backgrounds can work together to participate at the highest level – while raising awareness for a cause close to their heart. Follow them at Instagram and jmbusha54sailing.com.
Stealing the hearts of the eco-conscious with their decision to take ‘plastic free’ to a whole new level by sourcing all food ethically and largely from origin in their own reusable containers, and even having a thriving herb garden onboard, are these three dynamic couples on their elegant 47′ footer. Owner and Skipper Piet Kroon, his wife Magdaleen, Louis van Schalkwayk and Linda Birch, Fred and Carin Stokell, who hope to inspire more conscious living while having fun and challenging themselves. Follow them on Facebook.
Laurium Capital Mojie
A crew of experienced sailors and kiters whose passion for the ocean and love of adventure, especially when driven by the wind and elements – as is the case with Alastair Sellick and Alex Thompson, will see their Sun Odyssey 409 safely to Rio. The Mojie had an unfortunate last-minute crew change following a health issue, but with their replacement at the helm look compact, driven and ready for the crossing. Follow them on Facebook.
Deep Blue Adriana
Hailing from Angola is Deep Blue Adriana, a brave 46ft Bavaria that is ready for this venture. Owner and Skipper Diamantino Leitao is joined by three life-long friends, and as much as they look forward to the challenge of the passage, it’s the party in Rio that they’re already anticipating. With the advantage of a shared mother tongue, it’s bound to be a fabulously passionate Portuguese coming together when they get there.
The crew onboard Argonaut have committed to braaiing – or barbequing, all the way to Rio and as they cruised past spectators at the V&A Waterfront and out into the bay, wafts of smoke carried the smell of ‘boerewors’ on the wind. An experienced team and advocates for the race, with two members having previously completed the Cape2Rio, the crew includes siblings Charles and Lucy McDonald, father and daughter Wolf and Bella Gruber, Sunny Austin and Woody Attwood. May your smoke signals lead the way, Argonaut. Follow them on Instagram.
Myrtle of Bonnievale
This crew has their priorities on safety, fun and doing the best that they can on their Leopard 40 catamaran that will be crossing the South Atlantic for the fourth time. Very much a family affair for the Albertyns, Pierre and his son PK will be co-skippering, with matriarch Sonja and their second son, Pietman and two friends Lize Maartens and Inge Swart in support. The family are sailing to create awareness around Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, a real problem in the Cape Winelands community, the area they call home when not at sea. Follow them on Instagram.
This Dean 440 Espace catamaran is fresh from her recent race to St Helena and has renowned ocean yachtsman Mark Wannenburg at the helm. Driven by a Cape Town based adventure charter company Allspice Yachting, who are making dreams come true for the amateur crew that have joined them on this race. Among them are Andy van der Velde and his son Kevan. Follow them on Instagram.
A gorgeous Mumby 48 catamaran, Sulanga means ‘cool breeze’ in Sri Lankan. Arriving into Cape Town only a couple of weeks ago after a dash across the Indian Ocean, and just in time to prepare for the race, owner Dr Klaus Wiswedel is joined on board by with his wife Sunethra Abey, Jan Buhrmann and Joshua Bryant. This is a boat built for luxury and speed, completely self-sustained and free of single-use plastic. For the duration of the trip, they will be following a vegetarian diet in a bid to further reduce their impact on the environment.
For more information contact Simone Balman, Cape2Rio2020 Race Administrator on firstname.lastname@example.org and +27 82 635 3282. Crew pics are by official photographer Alec Smith of Image Mundi, the rest by me. Below I am with the media team – Gordon Hiles, Videographer. Luke Scott, Race Chair. Me, Media. Alec Smith, Photographer.