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Witbank Yacht & Aquatic Club Take An Early Lead

Aug 2019

Witbank Yacht & Aquatic Club Take An Early Lead

With day 1 having been blown out due to strong winds and a rough sea state, the Lipton Challenge Cup got off to a great start today with two races in very contrasting conditions.

The wind moderated as the day progressed, and the sea which was expected to be quite rough, flattened very quickly – making for perfect sailing conditions.

For all competitors, kelp and a lot of plastic was a problem on the race course, but as Gerry Hegie said, every boat has 14 eyes on board to scan for these obstructions which did not affect him.

Both races had competitors recalled at the start for being over the line at the start gun, forcing them to restart and then play catch up for the rest of the race.

The first race was the quadrilateral course – the most difficult of the three traditional and compulsory Lipton Cup courses.

First to get recalled by the Race Officer Doug Alison was the Royal Natal Yacht Club (RNYC) entry skippered by Mark Sadler. He recovered well to finish in 6th spot, and said after racing that he has a tendency to get the first start of most regattas wrong! But he had speed, and with more racing under his belt in the next few days will undoubtedly improve and be a serious contender.

This first race was sailed in a good stiff breeze with a lumpy seaway, and was won by the Witbank Yacht & Aquatic Club (WYAC) entry skippered by David Rae and Mike Hayton. They took the lead very early in the race, and were only challenged by the Hermanus Yacht Club (HYC) team headed by Malcolm Hall and Roger Hudson. Hermanus were fast on the downwind legs, but could not quite match the Witbank team upwind, so had to be content with second.

Sailing really well in the first race was the Walvis Bay Yacht Club (WBYC) team under the command of Bjorn Geiger, scoring a very solid third place.

By the time the second race started on a windward/leeward course, the northerly wind had dropped to between 12 and 15 knots, and dropped further before coming back marginally stronger for the final round of racing.

Both the Hermanus and Langebaan Yacht Club boats were over at the start, and were forced to go to the right side of the course which was not the best side to be leaving them as the two trailing boats at the end of the first leg. Both teams sailed exceptionally well ending 5th and 6th respectively.

The rest of the fleet went left, with the RCYC boat showing great upwind speed to round the first marker with a commanding lead. Following was the Walvis Bay team, sailing exceptionally well and fast, almost maintaining her second spot throughout the race, only to be beaten close to the finish line. Up the final windward leg The Walvis Bay team looked to be getting the better of the Gerry Hegie’s Royal Cape team. But Hegie was having none of it, turning on the after-burners and streaking away to a magnificent victory.

The Walvis Bay teams undoing was to gybe away from their closest competitor on the final leg as they lost their advantage and let the Witbank team through to take second spot overall – and head the leaderboard overall with four more days to race.

What is quite clear after the opening two races is that every single small mistake will be punished severely, and that the final overall winner will far and away be the very best sailing team and highly deserving winners.


Pic:  Liesl King


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