There was plenty of national pride on display in Cape Town’s Victoria and Alfred Waterfront overnight as South Africans featured on board the first two teams to arrive into the city in the second stage of one of the planet’s toughest endurance challenges, the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race.
Narrowly pipped into his hometown by just 17 minutes and 45 seconds after 14 days racing from Punta del Este, Uruguay, Dare to Lead Skipper Dale Smyth, from Fish Hoek, near Cape Town, arrived to crowds of cheering family and friends, including his wife and three young sons, His team battled hard the entire way, with the lead changing hands with rival and eventual race winner, Greenings, for much of the race.
Arriving back to home soil, Dale said: “It’s incredible and this is going to be the highlight of my race for sure – homecoming, seeing my kids and my wife and just being in my city. To give Andy Woodruff (the Interim Greenings Skipper) his due, we tried all sorts but he just had that little bit of pace on us. After 3500 nautical miles, he was around 3 miles ahead so we are talking very small margin. That’s the nature of this game.”
Whilst Dare to Lead missed out on the finish line victory, the team is expected to end up topping the leaderboard as it chose to utilise its Joker Card, a one-use tactical tool, for this race, meaning its 11 race points are doubled, resulting in a whopping 22 for this stage.
40,000 nautical miles long and lasting eleven months, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is the only event on the planet which trains amateur sailors to take on one of Mother Natures’ harshest environments. Raced by everyday people, 40 per cent of crew have no previous sailing experience as the organisers provide full training as part of the experience.
Also onboard Dare To Lead was Nqoba Mswazi, 25, from Durban. Nqoba first competed in the Clipper Race in the 2013-14 race and went on to gain his Yachtmaster Ocean under the instruction of his now Skipper Dale Smyth here in Cape Town. A member of the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation, which aims to provide life-changing opportunities to under privileged South African youths, his goal is to use his experiences and qualifications to pursue a career in sailing.
Waving the South African flag proudly as he arrived home, Nqoba, who has been on board with the team since the Clipper Race started in Liverpool, England on 20 August, said: “It was my first time sailing back into Cape Town with a big crowd waiting and cheering for us so it was a great welcome back home for me. I am really pleased to have done Leg 2 on this race. It was shorter and harder than Leg 1 but it was a good one great conditions, very tactical at some stages and good sailing for us.”
It is the second consecutive stage win for the Greenings team, which featured two South Africans on the race into Cape Town. Andy Sutherland, 48, from Johannesburg is married with three young children and has always wanted to sail across the Atlantic Ocean.
Upon arrival, Andy said: “The race was fantastic. We had some incredible winds, some incredible seas, sort of what I was expecting but it was an incredible experience. It’s fantastic to arrive back in to South Africa – I’ve got loads of family here, my sister, brother and parents have come down from Johannesburg so it’s been a perfect turnout for me and for all of us. For Greenings and the team, we all worked hard. We had loads of fun, we had a lot of laughter and we had a lot of challenging times but it all turned out alright in the end. It was fantastic.”
Fellow crew member, Janette Potgieter (35) is a Corporate Investigator who was born in Pretoria and had no prior sailing experience before beginning her Clipper Race training. She said: “There is no one word that can describe what we have just gone through. We have gone through 15 days of rough seas, high winds, light winds, laughter, a few tears, it’s an emotional roller-coaster but overall absolutely stunning.”
Janette’s Clipper Race experience will continue beyond Cape Town to Fremantle and the All Australian Leg and she said of the sailing conditions: “We had something of everything – we had sunshine, we had storms, we had hail, we had rain, from 40knots of wind to next to nothing. I think Leg 2 has prepared us even more for Leg 3 so I’m looking forward to the next one.”
Crew can choose to compete in either the entire circumnavigation or one or more of the Clipper Race’s eight challenging legs. Over 700 crew will take part in the Clipper 2017-18 race, the event’s eleventh edition, making it the biggest yet. Over 40 nationalities are included amongst the crew, with 14 South African crew members included in that figure.
The Clipper Race was established by legendary sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo, non-stop around the world, almost 50 years ago.
Congratulating the teams, he said: “What an impressive race into Cape Town! These teams have effectively been involved in a 3,500-nautical mile sprint, and keeping that level of intensity up for two weeks whilst across the South Atlantic is one tough test for any sailor, professional or not. I have big respect for the effort put in by all the teams and know they will now enjoy a very well-deserved break here in Cape Town.”
A close race across the fleet, ten of the twelve teams are expected into Cape Town within this first 24-hour arrival period.
This is the ninth time that the Clipper Race has visited South Africa in its eleven-edition history and the teams can expect generous hospitality in the picturesque setting of the V&A Waterfront, just under the view of Table Mountain, before departing on Leg 3 of the race on 31 October.
Conscious of the current water shortage in the area, the teams have been making freshwater while out at sea using their watermakers to reduce the strain on supplies in the city. The Clipper Race office has also introduced a number of other contingency measures including providing recycled water for cleaning the boats in port.
The Clipper 2017-18 Race fleet have now covered over 10,000 of the race’s 40,000 nautical mile route since Race Start in Liverpool on 20 August.
Race 3 of the Clipper 2017-18 Race starts on 31 October, departing Cape Town and taking teams deep into the Southern Ocean and the infamous ‘Roaring Forties’ in another fast and thrilling ‘sleigh ride’ to Fremantle, Western Australia.