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2014 Cape to Rio Race - Preview

by Louay Habib on 30 Dec 2013 4 January 2014
Cape to Rio Course: Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro 3300nm © Cape to Rio

The Cape to Rio Race sponsored by Xtra-Link and organised by the Royal Cape Yacht Club is one of the world's oldest, longest and toughest ocean races.

Although the race has finished in other South American destinations, the first Cape to Rio Race took place in 1971, pre-dating the Whitbread Round the World Race. The rhum line is 3300 miles across the Southern Atlantic, the vast expanse of desolate ocean is notorious for high winds and big seas and tactically there are many strategic decisions right from the start. Leaving Table Bay, the shallow waters of the African continental shelf and the wind shadow from Table Mountain can create a mogul field of Atlantic swell. 200 miles from Cape Town, the South Atlantic High must be negotiated and deep into the South Atlantic, mountainous seas can rear up propelled by ocean currents, storm force winds are a regular occurrence.

The finish in Rio de Janeiro can be tense, land effects can cause sudden changes in the wind and waves, a shifty light breeze with a confused sea state is a likely scenario to conclude a long and arduous race. Many of the yachts will spend over two weeks at sea, the Cape to Rio Race is a true test of seamanship, perseverance and determination.

36 yachts will cast off from Cape Town on January 4th with race crew from all over the world. A variety of yachts will be lying the flags of eight different countries; Angola, Australia, Croatia, Germany, Great Britain, India, Italy and South Africa.

Giovanni Soldini's Italian Volvo 70, Maserati is the hot favourite for line honours and is currently predicted to complete the course in 11 days. Soldini has taken part in over 40 Transoceanic races and has won solo round the world and transatlantic races.

"I have been dreaming of participating in this historic race since I was a child." confessed Giovanni Soldini. "The crew is ready and very competitive."

Volvo 70, Maserati has an all star crew and was in fine form this year, settiung a new record between New York and San Francisco of 47 days and 42 minutes. For the Cape to Rio Race, Maserati will have a highly experienced crew of ten, including Olympic Gold Medallist and Volvo Ocean Race sailor, Martin Kirketerp from Denmark and Frenchman, Jacques Vincent with eight circumnavigations.

Whilst, Maserati may be the first yacht to finish the course, the Cape to Rio Race uses the IRC Rating system to calculate the overall monohull winner. Robert Date's Australian Reichel Pugh 52, Scarlet Runner is one of the favourites and currently routing at 14 days for the race. The Australian crew sailed the yacht to Cape Town from Sydney and after the race will sail the yacht up to the Caribbean to take part in the RORC Caribbean 600 and several Caribbean regattas.

The Cape to Rio Race is the flagship race of the Royal Cape Yacht Club and 27 yachts from South Africa will be taking part. Including RCYC Commodore, Dale Kushner's Sunfast 32, Yolo (You Only Live Once). Yolo will be one of the smallest yacht in the race and the Commodore will be racing Two-Handed with his long time crew member, Ian Coward. The duo have competed in almost every single Offshore event in South Africa as a pair.

"It is anyone's race." commented Dale. "Conditions, good decisions and a bit of luck will the overriding factors. As always we are being very particular in boat preparation ensuring that everything is prepped properly in order to minimise any potential gear failures that we may encounter. We have three rules on board; To make a safe transatlantic passage, be better friends at the finish than at the start and sail as fast as we can - in that order."

Cape Town local and round the world sailor, Pippa Hutton-Squire, will be competing on one of the smallest yachts in the race. Arnt Bruhns' German Archambault M34, Iskareen was shipped to Cape Town from Hamburg, especially for the race.

"The Cape to Rio Race is the most famous yacht race in South Africa and I am proud and honoured to be taking part, especially as I am racing with a team from overseas. It is really important to South Africans that this race gets the international recognition it deserves." commented Pippa.

All of the competing yachts are be fitted with hi-tech DMR 800D trackers provided by race sponsor Xtra-Link and many yachts have broadband data capability and will be sending messages and images from the South Atlantic.

To follow the race visit www.cape2rio2014.com

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