Mossel Bay has made a huge impact on the sailors in the Lipton Challenge Cup fleet.
Speaking after the fourth day of sailing in the country’s most prestigious keelboat event, South African Sailing’s national sail training manager, Mossel Bay-based Rob Holden said that conditions “Couldn’t have been better for sailing.
“We’ve had very good weather, with winds varying from two to twenty knots, and the racing’s been much closer than we’re used to seeing in the Lipton Cup, and it’s wider open for anyone to take the lead.”
He said that any one of the top three boats could take the prize at this stage.
This is the first time that the Lipton Challenge Cup – now in its hundredth year – has been sailed in Mossel Bay.
“It’s being held here because Knysna Yacht Club – which won it last year – had the privilege of nominating the venue,” said Mr. Holden.
Twenty boats of the L26 class, representing clubs from as far afield as Cape Town, Durban and Gauteng, are taking part in the Challenge.
“The first day of sailing was very nice in about 10 knots of wind, with the yachts following a triangular course; then on the second day, when the course was altered to a square configuration, the race finished after sunset because the winds died down dramatically. But yesterday and today, when the course was altered to a sausage shape, we’ve had good, strong winds – and even yesterday’s driving rain didn’t affect the quality of the sailing,” said Mr. Holden.
“These are the kinds of conditions that make for great competition.”
He said that the crew of Mossel Bay’s entry – Parental Guidance – was “Battling to get their boat going.”
The crew is made up of youngsters and includes previously disadvantaged sailors.
“In terms of sailing development, though, they’re getting fantastic exposure and learning a great deal. It’s their first time together on a keel boat, and that alone puts them under a certain amount of pressure.
“But their sailing has improved already, you can see that clearly.”
Mossel Bay Tourism’s Marcia Holm said that the town was enjoying the spectacle of the boats out on the water.
“It’s wonderful to see them flying their colourful spinnakers, and to follow the racing on the big screens at the Yacht Club and on line at www.livetrack24.com.
“This event has certainly cemented Mossel Bay’s position as the premier sailing venue in South Africa,” she said.
Provisional results at the close of Day 4 showed Knysna Yacht Club’s ‘Colorpress’ (skipper Greg Davis) in first place; Royal Natal Yacht Club’s ‘Orion B2G2’ (Ricky Robinson) in second place; and False Bay Yacht Club’s ‘Team Intasure Insurance’ (Andrea Giovannini and Markus Progli) in third place.