The 2016 edition of the Maserati Cape Town Race Week, the second time the event has been held following a successful debut last year, started in perfect sailing conditions at the V&A Waterfront yesterday.
30 boats lined up at the start for a week of high octane racing and the Cape Town Race Week will eventually culminate with a race prologue for the 2017 Cape2Rio, presented by Maserati.
Elise Kirsten hopped on board one of the media ribs today, 16 December, to watch some of the second day’s racing up close.
Before the official start to the race, there was an air of anticipation and it seemed that the crews on the various yachts were reining them in, almost like snorting race horses with ears pricked forward waiting for the signal to unleash all that pent up energy. The yachts all lined up, as much as they could in the bay with its imaginary race line and once the green light was given, these racing machines began criss-crossing the bay heading for the various race markers.
Although the competition began with a flurry of action, the light South Easter that had been present early on dissipated without warning, as Cape doctor decided that he was needed elsewhere. The boats continued to make for the markers, raising sails and tacking to change direction in an almost comical slow motion.
The skipper of our boat remarked, “It’s like a high stakes chess game in ultra-slow motion”.
After about an hour of racing, followed by twenty minutes of near doldrum-like conditions, the race was called off. We were informed that the race was going to be restarted, as a south-westerly wind was expected to pick-up and the racing would most likely take place closer to the Blouberg side of the bay. The official results from today’s race are still to be released.
Yesterday’s race started with controversy as two boats came together, immediately breaching race rules. The boats in question were Nitro and Cape Fling. Nitro, the overall winners of the 2015 Cape Town Race Week, is a favourite to defend the title. Cape Fling eventually finished first, with Nitro in second on the day. Protests held up the result being announced, but in the end Cape Fling was awarded the provisional victory.
Aside from that brief moment of angst, the day was an enjoyable one for most on the water, with the course taking boats out of Table Bay and up along the Atlantic Seaboard before turning for home.
Cameron Boustead of the yacht Vulcan, which will also sail in the Cape2Rio albeit with a different crew said that events like the Maserati Cape Town Race Week were crucial in showcasing the sport to a wider audience, while at the same time giving the local sailing a community an international-level event to participate in. “I sailed in Race Week last year and it was great fun, well organised and an excellent experience,” said Boustead. “Cape Town Race Week is something that really makes sailing more visible to more people.”
The sentiments were echoed by Nitro’s David Rae. “Cape Town Race Week is great for the sport,” he said. “Cape Town sailors are very proud of what they have, so it’s a great way to show off the area.”
Race chairman and event director Simon Borchert was thrilled with the start of the racing. “The weather played ball, there was some excitement at the start, and it looks like everyone had a great first day on the water. By moving the event’s Race Village into the V&A Waterfront we’ve got a wonderful opportunity to generate interest in sailing, not to mention one of the most scenic settings in the world for a regatta. It promises to be a fantastic week ahead.”
Cape Town Race Week is South Africa’s premier yachting regatta. The mix of world-class yacht racing and shoreside events and parties runs over six days from 15 to 20 December 2016 and attracts sailors from South Africa and around the world.
Cape Town Race Week day 1 provisional results:
IRC Division 1
1 Cape Fling
3 Vulcan (retired)
IRC Division 2
1 Bally Hoo Too
2 Hollard Jacana
Photos: Kim van Zyl, Ashleigh de Villiers, Elise Kirsten