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Black Cat wins Governor's Cup 2015

by Sue Pelling 9 Jan 2015 15:23 GMT 2 January 2015

Dave Immelman and his team on Black Cat (Dudley Dix 38) have won the Governor's Cup 2015 after their nearest rival – Avanti – who finished ahead in the early hours this morning – declared they had switched on their engine for 95 miles and moved into the Cruising division.

Team Black Cat who thought they needed to beat Avanti on the water to be in with a chance of an overall win, crossed the finish line at 09.14.01 to a massive surprise when they discovered they were the overall winners.

As he stepped ashore after completing the 1,750-nautical mile race this morning, Dave Immelman (44) the skipper and his four crew, were still digesting the good news: "We are absolutely delighted. It was such a surprise and we are over the moon. The owner Adrian Pearson is ecstatic because it is his first win ever in this boat. He spent a lot of money bringing the boat up to scratch last year and he has now realized spending the money has really paid off. Also we started the race in 2012 but had to retire with gear failure, so to actually finish and win overall is a dream come true."

After a windy start to the race from Simon's Town, South Africa on 27 December the fleet rounded Cape Point and settled in to a downwind blast off the African coast. This lasted several days before the St Helena High started to take effect and flit around unpredictably. Those who took the decision to sail north of the rhumb line, such as Banjo (Farrier F9AX) that took line honours and broke the race speed record on 6 January, generally benefited from a more consistent breeze.

Chatting about the conditions, Immelman said: "The general consensus from those we spoke to before we set off, was to stay on the rhumb line because that was the winning course but this particular year it wasn't. It was obscure. Because the St Helena High was jumping around all over the place it was difficult to read. Naturally everyone suffered in a similar way – sailing around the high pressure zone only to sail into another one, which wasn't on the grib files – so it was all about predicting the unpredictable. At one stage we gybed and went north about 30-40 miles because there was generally more wind there but had to come back in to keep cover over our competitors. As it happened we gybed straight back into another high."

Like most who reflect on the highlights of the race, Immelmann says for sure it was during the first night when winds gusted up to 40kts. "Without doubt it was doing 21.6 knots in a 20 year old boat. Just as we'd completed the job of putting in a reef in for the night a big gust funnelled through and we just took off. We had a rooster coming out the stern and it was quite unbelievable. The most interesting thing was that it wasn't scary at all. She held stable and proved just how well built she is."

While those who have finished are now settled into St Helena Yacht Club enjoying the warm St Helena hospitality, the remainder of the fleet continues to battle with the St Helena High. The final two in the Racing division – lechyd Da (Miura) and Spirit of Africa (Lavraonos 36) – still have 500 miles to go. They have until 1200 on Tuesday 13 January to make the extended deadline cut-off time.

More details on the Governor's Cup Yacht Race can be found at; or by visiting the Governor's Cup Facebook page, or on Twitter at @Governors_Cup.

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