What an awesome start for us! We crossed the start line in 4th or 5th place, made it to the Milnerton Bouy in 4th and then out to the Bloubergstrand buoy and out past Robben island. The wind was light and non-existent when we came out from the V&A Waterfront. There is a channel over the famous Table Mountain from where the wind builds into the bay, and this was where the start was situated. As all teams prepared for the start at 2 o’clock, the wind started to fill the bay and as the final countdown happened, we found ourselves in a very good position. It wasn’t without any problems, as our line on the furlough jammed and we had a few tricky moments trying to release the knots while other boats caught up with us. Nevertheless, we managed to get to the first buoy in a good position and onto the second where we thought we did an excellent job in hitting the right line.
The whole lead up to the day was very exciting to say the least, with the Maserati village constructed especially for the event in the waterfront. On race morning, we all gathered on the boat at 9 o’clock to join the fleet for the sail-by at the village where all the boats were blessed. There were thousands of spectators, a lot of them family and friends of the over 200 sailors taking part. Once all the speeches were concluded, we all got back on our yachts and one by one we were called up to sail by the dignitaries with the chosen song playing in the background. Ours was “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison – chosen by Shaun Verster.
The crew members were in various states of anticipation throughout the week leading up to the start of the race. Nerves were higher for some than others, but I think any crossing – no matter how often you have done it – gets the adrenalin going. Of course there is the ever present thought about getting sea sick in the first few days that also plays on your mind. All the provisions were bought and carefully stowed away. It is quite a logistics exercise, considering that you’re providing food for eight men for at least three weeks. And of course, unlike some of the other boats, we are eating normal food – cooked and prepared at each mealtime. Water and diesel were loaded, and the obligatory final checks done.
Once out of the bay, we put up our asymmetrical – which is a very large sail, almost like a spinnaker. And although we kept east of Robben island, we stayed more west of most of the other yachts. In a little while the swells began to pick up, and so did the wind. The asymmetrical suddenly became a problem, as we were overpowered and in danger of losing control if we did not react quickly. Bringing her round into the wind was a bit hairy for some, who are not regular seafarers. The Trekker was right up on her side steering into the wind. The guys on the front deck were getting wet for the first time as I was sitting on my bum on the deck in the cockpit in (what felt like) a standing position – ready to release the sheet for the asymmetrical so that we could drop her. Eventually we did this quite comfortably. It wasn’t long before we had to put reef in the main and it has been there ever since. As the evening approached, the wind continued to ebb and flow between 19 and 25kts; and with the Genoa out, we were reaching speeds of 18kts surfing down waves.
The crew are all fine and no one was sick in the first day, which I expect is due to the adrenaline rush of the first 12 hours.DONATE