by Rob Taylor
Heineken Cape to Rio update.
Xtra-Link - Heineken Cape to Rio 2011
While City of Cape Town appears to have a stranglehold on the Heineken Cape to Rio yacht race, the fight for second and third places on handicap has seen several boats drift in and out of contention.
The most noticeable absentee from the top three is Dale Kushner’s Xtra-Link, which only last Friday was lying second and has now dropped to sixth.
Kushner was forced to do a number of gybes following some 'severe shifts' in the wind yesterday, but later reported the yacht to be sailing in 14-17 knot winds and completing a 24-hour run of 127 nautical miles.
Ciao Bella, skippered by Mike Robinson, was still holding on to second place following a daily run of 172nm, ahead of Jon and Andrew Sanders’ Perie Banou II (139nm).
The big move came from the 42ft Izivunguvungu, skippered by Kader Williams and his development crew from the navy base in Simon’s Town. The boat had a run of 219nm and has moved into fourth place on handicap ahead of Cape Storm, skippered by Sean Cummings.
Despite a couple of blown spinnakers, Prodigy still leads the race for line honours and had a run of 223nm, leaving her just 1,200nm from Rio. Gerry Hegie’s City of Cape Town is 1,302nm from the finish and Grand Filou II, skippered by Jurgen Eming and Richard Fearon, 1,447nm.
Skipper Chris Frost believes Prodigy, which already has had a couple of shredded spinnakers, is still on course to reach Rio in about 14 days and likened the Cape to Rio to a famous South African rugby competition.
'Naas Botha is quoted as saying that ‘the Currie Cup is not won in May’ and I believe that sentiment is as relevant to the Cape to Rio. It isn’t won after eight days. The final 1,000 miles will be crucial, and I am of the opinion that positions will change yet,' said Frost.
'We feel we are still on track. One must also acknowledge the exceptional performances put in so far by the likes of City of Cape Town and Ciao Bella, which perhaps makes it look like we are not doing as well as we should. Our original goal was to do the race in 14 days and we can still do this.'
But Frost conceded that they had got their maths wrong in the first week.
'The first 1,000 miles of the race are about strategy out of Cape Town. History now shows that the northern route paid. We had intended going this route, but for reasons that will remain on the boat, we ended up hedging our bets and took a route between the southern and northern boats. Now, as a canter, this meant we beam reached for three days straight, our best angle of sail, and it showed in the results.
'However, on day four, because we were leading and the only boat to reach the Atlantic high, we parked up for eight hours ... doing no more than three knots. Being the scratch boat is a two-edged sword. If you beat a changing weather system it becomes a case of the rich getting richer ... if you don’t (as in our case) ... it becomes a case of the rich must pay more tax.
'We are often averaging 17 knots plus for significant periods of time. We just need a long stretch of runway at a beam reach and we will surge right back.'
At the back of the fleet, a mini-drama was being played out on Myrtle of Bonnievale, which had run into snags with its water supply. The boat had been grappling with the problem since last Friday and skipper Pierre Albertyn decided not to run the watermaker for longer than 45 minutes at a time.
But after some instructions from water treatment company Aquamarine, the watermaker started up perfectly.
'We made 45 minutes of water and achieved 100 litres of pure sweet water. All on board are so relieved,' reported Albertyn.
For the latest race results click here