Spirit of Izivunguvungu crew in troubled waters

2011-02-01 12:56

A group of young sailors from the Cape Flats could be disqualified from the prestigious Cape to Rio yacht race after they accepted fresh water from a competing yacht this week.

The yacht Spirit of Izivunguvungu, which was in contention for a finish in the top six on handicap, is crewed by seven young men from disadvantaged backgrounds.

But they had to call for help on Wednesday afternoon after their watermaker (which makes seawater drinkable) broke. They were down to 30 litres of fresh water for the approximately nine remaining days of the Atlantic crossing.

After the call was sent out by skipper Kader Williams, race ­director John Martin asked the competing yacht Xtra-Link to ­divert its course and provide ­assistance.

Cans of isotonic drink and 140 litres of water were transferred to the near-dehydrated sailors and the Xtra-Link crew was to be granted a six-hour time consideration for their sportsmanship.

The race rules dictate that any yacht which receives help on the crossing faces disqualification. A press release sent out by the City of Cape Town, sponsors of Spirit of Izivunguvungu and another yacht named after the city and crewed by a Brazilian development team, said that the Cape Town development sailors were out of the race.

However, the official word from the race headquarters in Rio de Janeiro this week was that “the yacht Spirit of Izivunguvungu has at this point in time not officially been disqualified from the race”.

But because the team was still in good spirits Izivunguvungu skipper Kader Williams did not want to pull out and, according to crew member Ryan Pentolfe, he encouraged them saying they wouldn’t give up until the last drop of water.

“The crew was happy to carry on and try their best to keep their cool in the burning hot daytime heat with just about no water.

“Two days went past and I could see a drastic mood change in myself and in the rest of the crew, we were about to give up on the race,” he said.

Team manager Manuel Mendes said race organisers would only take a final decision once the race was completed.

Spirit of Izivunguvungu is not the only one of the 17 yachts to experience trouble with their watermaker, said race spokesperson Jeanne van Rooyen.

“Myrtle of Bonnievale nearly hit the panic button after they battled for five days to repair their watermaker and Ciao Bella also reported hassles earlier this week.”

At the moment the yacht City of Cape Town leads the race on handicap, followed by Ciao Bella and Perie Banou II. Leading the race for line honours is Prodigy.

Martin said it has been “an ­exceptionally fast race and a new record will be set”.

– WCN

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