Team manager for the Clube Naval de Luanda, Nico Pereira de Almeida discusses plans
with local sailor Manuel Mendes, who will be assisting the team in Cape Town.
Just weeks after posting the Notice of Race for the next Cape to Rio Race, due to start on January 4th, 2014, local and international enquiries have been pouring into the Royal Cape Yacht Club, and already two international entries have signed for the race.
The two entries are from the Angolan Sailing Federation entered under the auspices of the Clube Naval de Luanda. Team manager Nico Pereira de Almeida flew into Cape Town at the weekend specifically to sign up the first entries. The team will be sailing in two near-identical Bavaria 55-foot yachts, led by highly experienced skippers, but the crews on each will included young cadets who are graduates of the sailing federation’s sail-training programme.
“Our programme includes youngsters of all backgrounds, who learn to sail in various dinghy classes, and then also keel-boats,” said de Almeida. “Eight of them have already been chosen for the teams, which will be a fantastic opportunity for them. ” He added that the Clube Naval had long had significant ties with Brazil, and it was proud to be the first club from Africa outside of South Africa to enter for the forthcoming race. “We see it as a significant step, and as the start of further co-operation between our clubs.”
Royal Cape Commodore John Martin strongly welcomed the Angolan entries. “It is very rewarding that the first international entries are from Africa, that says something very important, and also that their crews will include youngsters, which has always been close to my heart. In the last race we saw young men from both this country and Brazil sailing in this race, and doing so very well. So it is rewarding to see this initiative from Angola. The ocean is a great challenge but also a great teacher so I welcome this entry from Angola with special warmth.”
Intrigueingly the Clube Naval de Luanda is the oldest yacht club in Africa, having been founded in 1826 by King Dom Carlos I of Portugal, making it older than many yacht clubs in Europe. The club had an entry in the first Cape to Rio Race in 1971, but further participation became impossible because of the fierce hostility between South Africa’s apartheid regime and the newly independent Angola.
With excitement about the race building at a surprising rate, it looks likely that there will be a very sizeable international contigent, says Martin. A thirty-strong fleet of the Oyster Association, boat owners of the various classes and sizes of Oyster Yachts, will be on a world rally coming through Cape Town right on time, and have asked to join in the race. For them it will be the participating in a race of a lifetime.
Including these, Martin estimates a fleet of at least fifty yachts in total. “My main problem is assuring that we have enough berths in Rio de Janeiro,” he said. The Rio Yacht Club itself has only a limited number of berths, but the plan is to reserve berths in nearby marinas.
The first signed up South African entry is the of Cape sailor Bruce Tedder, who has sailed the race a number of times, and included a second placing on Parker Pen nearly 20 years ago. “This is one of the world’s great ocean races, ” he said. “I think the 2014 race is going to be a bumper year.” Other local sailors also have plans well in hand for the race, including two new fast down-wind racers due to be launched in May.
Other notices of intent have come from the British Royal Navy Sailing Association, the Indian Navy, and there have been enquiries from the United States and Italy among other countries. Also expressing interest is Dee Caffari Racing. The British solo sailor shot to prominence with a sterling performance in a recent Vendee Globe, while another prominent women sailor, Alexia Barrier of Monaco has plans to bring a 115-foot French ketch. Clearly the main restraint on the size of the fleet will be the current gloom pervading the world economy.
Martin plans for a single mass start, with the classes divided between IRC racing, and a cruising class for both multihulls and monohulls, which will have rules for using their engines, to try to ensure that most yachts are able to reach the finish before the prize-giving date. Introduction and Notice of Race