Being a “Challenge Cup”, the Lipton Cup inter-club Challenge requires a “Challenger of Record” to issue a challenge to the Defending Lipton Cup holder.
This year the Royal Natal Yacht Club (RNYC) are the defenders, with the Royal Cape Yacht Club (RCYC) having challenged them with ‘RCYC Team Jackal’. Now there is officially a regatta with other Clubs able to enter with the aim of winning the coveted Lipton Cup.
The Defender and Challenger of Record could not be two more unequal yachts as the defending yacht is a highly modern very slippery and fast yacht designed and launched within the last five years.
The challenging yacht comes from a design which is around 40 years old, but which has been modified in attempt to keep it as up-to-date as possible.
The question begging an answer, is simply how two such mis-matched yachts can compete fairly and equally? The simple answer is the use of the international ORC rules which allow boats of different sizes and characteristics to race each other with an equal chance to win. Rating or handicaps correct their elapsed time difference and put them on the same level.
The next question is does this work in reality? And the answer is an emphatic YES as the Royal Cape Yacht Club held trials to select their challenger. The boat that won those trials was ‘RCYC Team Jackal’ sailing the older yacht which was up against an identical yacht to the defender’s modern yacht.
One has to remember that the yacht is just part of the equation to winning, another element being the crew – and this is an area where ‘RCYC Team Jackal’ exudes talent, competence and experience.
Two key players in this whole equation are Jimmy Jacka who owns the yacht, and Rob van Rooyen who previously owned and skippered it and was always hard to beat in regattas over several years. Instead of being at the back of the boat where one would expect a skipper and owner to be found, they are at the sharp end with van Rooyen being the bowman and Jacka his assistant up front.
Helming the boat will be Ryan Collins, who regularly helmed the boat under van Rooyen’s watchful eyes when they raced together, and who played a big part in their successes.
Trimming the mainsail is Paul Lagesse who has several Lipton Cup campaigns under his belt, and who is one highly talented yet under-rated yachtie. The ‘Jackal’ crew consider him as their secret weapon to optimizing their boat speed upwind.
Seven-time Lipton Cup winner, Rick Nankin, is the tactician and strategist. His incredible experience goes back many years in this event where he is the third most successful Lipton Cup winner of all time. He will, in all likelihood, be the oldest man on the water, and probably one of the wisest too.
Brevan Thompson will be in the cockpit taking care of trimming the spinnaker and headsails. He has spent time on the Olympic Circuit with the Race Ahead squad, and is known for his ability to keep calm under pressure.
Assisting Thompson in the cockpit will be old-salt Steve Meek who has a wealth of experience. With his sail-making background he is an invaluable and calming member of the team.
Trevor (Farmer) Spilhaus will take care of the pit when on the water racing, but will also optimise the rigging and rig trim as the team builds-up their time on the water. Spilhaus has a keen eye for spotting potential issues before they happen, so is invaluable as a trouble-shooter when the pressure is on while racing.
Assisting Spilhaus in the pit, and taking care of navigation, a crucial element to racing, is William Crockett.
In this crew, Rick Nankin, Paul Lagesse, Steve Meek, Trevor Spilhaus and William Crockett have all previously won the Lipton Cup.
This is a potent team with every ability to win the Lipton Challenge Cup as it has a very good mix of youth and experience, plus some old-salts to keep heads cool and calm and the boat going fast at all times throughout each and every race.