Yachts take on the waves to prepare for Da Gama

2014-04-10 00:00

LAST Saturday saw a small fleet take on 40 knot winds as they competed in the Commodore’s Cup, starting from Royal Natal Yacht Club.

Starting in the afternoon with the wind behind them, yachts and crews enjoyed a pleasant run to Ballito, turning at a marker near the Zimbali coastal estate.

The wind offered its own challenges at the start as two yachts, brave enough to fly spinnakers, battled to get matters under control before catching the gush up north.

Making the return trip to Durban was no easy task. Having to turn into the wind and weather, yachts had their bows pounded by frisky waves and although the wind calmed soon after sunset, conditions still offered lumpy seas with white horses dominant.

It was all for a purpose though, offering time on the water and valuable night hours ahead of the 300-nautical-mile Da Gama race from Maputo to Durban, starting on June 19.

No matter how experienced a sailor may be, the elements can never be predicted and more often than not, provide a stern test of yachting acumen and skill.

“Hectic. What a race. Only one forecast predicted the strength of the winds we had and the sea was lumpy with waves of about four metres,” said rear commodore Rob Samways.

“Some of the boats battled in the conditions, with surf speeds of 13 to 15 knots achieved on the way to Tongaat.

“However, they finally rounded the turning point between 6 pm and 6.25 pm to face a long, wet return journey of about four hours.”

‘Therapy’ enjoyed the lead but nearly gave it up to ‘Zap’ and ‘Flyer’ after “farming” in big seas offshore and ending up on the wrong side of the 45° wind shift to the south-west.

This allowed the other two yachts right into contention but ‘Therapy’ held on to cross the line 30 seconds ahead of a strong finishing ‘Zap’.

However, at the midnight prize-giving, commodore Graham Rose on ‘Zap’ was awarded the honours on corrected time after his magnificent run, closing with the ideal finish.

The next overnight race is on Saturday, May 3.

Looking ahead to the Da Gama, the race originated in 1967 and was run from Durban to East London during the Mozambique civil war before returning to its original route.

Yachts and cruisers can compete and the record for the race is held by former commodore of Royal Natal Yacht Club, Chris Frost, set in 2006.

He lines up for his 10th Da Gama this year.

Visit www.rnyc.org.za for more.

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