It Went All the Way Down to the Wire
- Lipton Cup Race
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The final day of the Lipton Challenge Cup literally went down to the wire after a day of drama and high tension between the top two contenders – the Witbank Yacht & Aquatic Club (WYAC) sailing aboard ‘Nitro’ and the Royal Cape Yacht Club (RCYC) sailing aboard ‘Yanmar’. ‘Nitro’ was co-skippered by Mike Hayton and David Rae, with ‘Yanmar’ co-skippered by Gerry Hegie and Asenathi Jim.
With two races to sail on Saturday, the wind was too light resulting in a postponement of the proceedings, until Race Officer Doug Alison deemed the wind to be strong enough.
The first race went as expected with the top two teams slugging it out at the head of the fleet and leaving the others to fight for the for placing. WYAC went into the race with a 7 point lead over RCYC – and what looked like an unassailable lead to win the regatta. RCYC won with WYAC hot on their stern – reducing the overall defect to 5 points.
The final race of the championship turned out to be a corker as it looked as if WYAC had blown her lead – and any chance of winning the coveted Lipton Cup. A few metres into the race WYAC caught kelp on her keel and stopped to free it, allowing RCYC to sail away. On three occasions up the first leg of the course WYAC caught plastic on her keel, and three times she stopped to free those. She was stone last and had a huge amount of catching up to do, and had virtually handed RCYC the overall lead.
The WYAC team are strong in character and were fast on the water too, and did not give up the fight to win the coveted Lipton Cup. They fought back hard, and slowly but surely reeled in the RCYC boat until she had again taken the lead. From there it was a case of percentage sailing to the finish to ensure overall victory.
The RCYC boat finished 4th in the race, and WYAC 7th – with that gap handing the Lipton Cup to the WYAC team with a 3 point advantage.
These two teams were the dominant teams in this competition, so relinquishing the trophy to WYAC was a hard pill to swallow for the RCYC team.
This Lipton Cup was the toughest for many years as with the newly introduced Cape 31 one-design boat, the very best sailors in the country competed, resulting in close-quarters sailing with lots of position changes on each leg of each race.