Final Results for the Governor’s Cup Yacht Race to St Helena
2014/15 sees a race of extremes with a new speed record set!
After an exciting 17 day downwind race from Simon’s Town in South Africa to Jamestown, St Helena, the results are in and team Black Cat, a Dudley Dix 38, are the overall winners of the 2014/15 Governor’s Cup Yacht Race.
Receiving the Governor’s Cup trophy at a special prize-giving ceremony on St Helena, Dave Immelman and his team onboard Black Cat said they were surprised to be announced as overall winners when they crossed the finish line at 09:14:01 on 8th January 2015 after their nearest rival – Avanti – declared they had switched on their engine and moved in to Cruising Class.
Lively conditions, with winds reaching over 30kts, made for an exciting start to the race from False Bay Yacht Club on 27th December 2014. The strong 25kt south-easterly did nothing however, to deter the masses of spectators and well-wishers who ventured on the water, and those who headed to mountain viewpoints all the way to Cape Point to watch the 17-strong fleet battle against huge waves as it headed out to sea.
Team Banjo, a Farrier F9AX that took line honours in the Governor’s Cup 2012/13, took an early lead as the fleet headed towards Cape Point – the first significant waypoint and one of the biggest challenges the competitors faced in the early part of the race. Competitors dealt with a fairly lively first night thanks to a residual 4-6m swell from a front that came through on Christmas Day, but once round the Point the wind was behind them meaning they could settle in to the race and concentrate on tactics.
As the race progressed team Banjo were the first to cross the halfway mark, 78 nautical miles ahead of team Black Cat and looked set to beat her previous time of just over 10 days if the wind held.
By 2nd January 2015, having enjoyed nearly a week of good, consistent winds, crews in the Governor’s Cup fleet began suffering from lack of speed as their yachts wallowed in light airs 400 or so miles off the African Coast, making the second half of the race a game of tactics as crews worked hard to seek out wind while remaining in the best of the north-flowing Benguela Current. Whilst team Banjo continued to set the pace at the head of the fleet, the Baltic 42 Cool Runnings took the decision to switch on their engine so they got to the Island in a reasonable time, which moved them from the Racing division to the Cruising division. The teams onboard Avanti (Vickers 41), Canace (Elan 435), Vulcan 44 (Humphries 44) and Strumpet (Simonis) also followed suit in taking the decision to switch on their engines and subsequently move Class.
On 6th January, Kevin Webb and his team on Banjo broke the Governor’s Cup Race record and won the multi-hull section, taking line honours with a time of 9 days 13 hours, 53 minutes and 36 seconds – trimming five hours off of the previous speed record set by Frans Loots and his team on Banjo in 2010.
Now all crews are enjoying the welcoming St Helena hospitality and the wonders of this remote and historic island before their next challenge – leaving. The only way off the island is by sea – returning on an upwind sail to South Africa, cruising onwards across the Atlantic or on the last operating Royal Mail Ship, the RMS St Helena. This, however, is set to change with the opening of a new airport on St Helena due in February 2016 and the subsequent decommission of the RMS St Helena, making this the last time the race will place in this format.
Commenting on the 2014/15 race, Principal Race Officer Bram Weller says, “This year’s race has certainly been one of extremes. After an exceptionally lively start from False Bay Yacht Club when winds gusted up to 40kts, the race then developed into a game of tactics as the St Helena High started to take effect and flit around unpredictably. I know many crews felt like they were trying to predict the unpredictable but those who opted for the more northern route towards St Helena generally benefited from stronger, more consistent winds.
“Many congratulations go to Black Cat as the overall winners and to the team of Banjo for not only taking line honours but for also setting the new speed race record. Our thanks also go to the St Helena Organising Committee who have ensured a truly memorable stay on the island with a host of tours, sporting activities and other social events for everyone to take part in and showcase this extraordinary island.
“It’s with a heavy heart that this is the last time the race has taken place in this current format after 18 years, but I also believe that it will grow in stature and attract more entries in the coming years with the opening of the airport on St Helena offering more flexibility and considerably reducing the amount of time participants need to spend away from home.”
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