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First Yachtport Overnight Race A Success …

First Yachtport Overnight Race a success …

Thanks must go to two great Sponsors of this New RCYC Event, to Yachtport and to Novamarine.

Thanks to Brian Blackbeard for the use of his facilities, and to Cindy, the general manager, and her team for putting on a great Saturday evening event for all competitors. Thanks to Manelle and John at Novamarine for the great prices on Life Rafts and safety equipment for this event and the great sponosrship which allowed us to put on a spit braai for everyone at the end of the race.

With light winds predicted for this evening’s race, everyone was ready for a long haul up to their virtual marks. 15 boats entered, 2 boats pulled out before the start, 1 retired just after the start, so we had 12 boats finishing in Saldanha Bay. With more wind than predicted, the first yacht in across the line, finishing themselves, was Yacht Yolo, at 8.07.









A Report From Yacht Yolo’s perspective:


Yacht Yolo’s crew comprised of the following: Dale Kushner as Skipper, Ian Coward as Navigator and Phillipa Hutton Squire.
Yolo started at the pin end of gthe start line and as planned, tacked away hoping to pick up favourable breeze near Milnerton. Instead the breeze pulled back leaving Yolo in calm conditions while the majority of the fleet were sailing in good Breeze to the West. Yolo got back into the breeze and then kept putting hitches on the shifts. The conditions were flat and the breeze increased. At Melbos the fog came in quickly with Yolo sailing over the next 4 plus hours in thick fog. The conditions ranged between 12-18 knots.. upwind sailing with Shifts which Yolo took advantage of  and tacked where necessary. Yolo Rounded Dassen Island just on the outside and tacked again soon after putting the final tack in just before the layline.. After sunrise Yolo rounded the Waypoint and headed for the finish in Saldhana. The conditions were still flat with good breeze blowing making for very pleasant sailing. Yolo arrived at the finish just after 8am much to the surprise of all who were not ready for an early arrival. Part of Yolo’s success was due to the conditions being read correctly and optimising this throughout the night while keeping the boat pushed at it’s best. It was a great race.
Reporting from Ray of Light representing SBYC


The first (hopefully of many) Yachtport overnight race was sailed on Friday 2nd and Sat 3rd November 2012. The race was jointly organised by RCYC and SBYC. The event was sponsored by Yachtport, Novamarine and Sea Harvest.
The plan was to depart table bay at 1700 on the Friday, sailing around varying virtual marks to the North West of Saldanha Bay (depending on the class) and for the boats to finish at more or less the same time, with a target of 1100 on the Saturday morning. In addition for those SBYC yachts not making the pre-race trip to RCYC, there was a short bay race on Saturday morning.
The entry was good, with 15 boats equipping themselves with life rafts for the overnight race. Entries varied from 60 foot Warrior to SBYC’s L26 Foster Wealth. Also representing SBYC was the 44 footer Ray of Light.
At the skippers brief there was some heated debate and head scratching as race officer Rob Meek made various proposals to try and engineer a situation in which all boats finished at the same time and in which an overall winner could be calculated. The suggestion that each boat have its own virtual mark, with the winner being the first to cross the finish line at Yachtport was shot down in flames as it was too much like a pursuit race in which variations from the forecast weather rather than sailing skill would determine the outcome of the race.
In the end the fleet was divided into three divisions with three virtual marks. There would be a winner on corrected time in each division. In addition there would be overall winners in the IRC and club fleets, being the boat with the highest handicap adjusted average speed.
The fleet was hoping for an early summer downwind dash followed by a short early morning beat back to Saldanha. However an unseasonal coastal low pressure system turned those wishes on their head.
At 1700 there was a light to non-existent NW. With the start line between the RCYC bridge hut and #10 there was a scramble for the pin. Majimoto held the pin, with Ray of Light and Vulcan to leeward. Silky was in the second row and were alarmed to see the 60 foot Warrior barging at the crowded pin end like a bowling ball at skittles. A loud bang resulted as Warrior rear ended Silky and was forced to do a 360 to exonerate herself.
Once the dust had settled the fleet krept off the start line. Some headed West out to sea in search of winds expected to fill in from the West, while others tacked onto port in search of the land / sea breeze dynamic along the beach.
Vulcan utilized its high power to weight ratio to steal a march on the fleet to the West, followed by Warrior in class 1. Silky tried the beach route. Majimoto headed West while Ray of Light tried the inshore route in class 2. In class 3 Alliance Francaise headed West while Yolo went to the beach. The beach strategy was soon abandoned as a large hole developed shortly after the start. In fact Yolo even hoisted a code zero in their attempt to get away from the hole in a hurry.
After a couple of hours the fleet beat on starboard toward the West North West into a gradually freshening and gently veering breeze. As dusk and a little fog closed in the fleet were heading just 20 degrees West of the 315 degree layline to the virtual marks 50, 60 and 70 miles respectively to the NW. New skills were required as helming in the dark without sight of the tell tales suddenly had many skippers feeling blind folded. Knowing the boat polars, feeling the correct heel angle and maintaining the target speed had never been more important. Those who mastered the art of a subtle change in rudder angle as the speed built or dropped would fair best, while those who struggled found themselves steering like snake.
After a few hours of darkness and in 10-12 knots of breeze each skipper faced the next key decision. Would the crew be asked to spend the night on the rail battling hypothermia or would they be allowed to to retire on their ‘off watch’ to the relative warmth and comfort of the cabin? In addition decisions had to be made regarding the tacking on the shifts. Those who’s crew endured the long hard night on the rail and tacking regularly on the shifts would be rewarded when day light returned. An added complication was the current. Conventional wisdom would suggest that an offshore strategy would pay with a favorable current. However on this occasion there appeared to be an adverse current offshore with less uphill inshore.
Once around the respective virtual marks in the early hours of Saturday morning the fleet were in for a few hours of comfortable fetching to Saldanha and were greeted by a pod of whales in the approaches to the bay. The class 1 virtual mark was far enough offshore that tuna were spotted in the warmer water.
Yolo sailed an excellent race in class 3 and were first to reach Saldanha at a little after 0800, having followed a more inshore course. They were followed by Alliance Francaise. In class 1 the battle of the old and new was won by Vulcan who sailed an excellent tactical race to lead Warrior home. Majimoto upstaged Ray of Light as they too sailed an excellent tactical race. SBYC’s Foster Wealth lost their Braai and dinner early on in the race. With less weight on board they sailed well, finishing a little after midday on Saturday.
The mood in Yachtport was festive as beers washed down bacon and eggs and stories of the night were shared. The facilities at yachtport are excellent and it was somewhat surreal to be in a Marina more reminiscent of Gocek in Turkey than Saldanha. The festivities continued into the night as Yachtport, Novamarine and Sea Harvest put on an excellent spit braai for the competitors.
Vulcan, Majimoto and Yolo took the respective class honors, Vulcan was adjudged overall winner in the IRC fleet and Foster Wealth in the club fleet. Sakabona took the bay race honours. The event was thoroughly enjoyed by all and excellently organised.  Lets hope that it becomes an annual fixture. In fact the sailing between Cape Town and Saldanha is such a convenient distance that perhaps we should be be doing more than two events a year.

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