MEDIA RELEASE                           FRIDAY, 27 JANUARY 2006

PODIUM FINISH FOR FAGAN IN HEINEKEN CAPE TO BAHIA YACHT RACE


80-year old Gawie Fagan and his crew on Suidoos 2 sailed across the finish line in Salvador to complete the 3380-mile Heineken Cape to Bahia yacht race in 21 days 22 hours and 24 minutes to take the third place on handicap.  This is widely considered a remarkable accomplishment for the minuscule 9-metre Royal Cape One Design Suidoos 2 and her crew.  Suidoos 2 is not only the oldest yacht in the fleet, skippered by the oldest skipper in the race, but bar the two mini-Transats she was also the smallest in the fleet.

Yachting enthusiasts all believed that Fagan did his final ocean crossing when he completed the 2003 Cape to Rio race on the same boat with his crack crew of son Henry Fagan and youngsters Jamie Waters and Brandon Smith.  The lure of Salvador, capital of the Brazilian state Bahia, and the exciting new route proved to much for Fagan and on 4 January, he and his intrepid crew set off on this epic ocean crossing.  Race organisers had Fagan pegged as a strong contender for handicap honours due to his amazing sailing experience spanning several decades and having a crack navigator in son Henry on board.
 

Fagan made history during the 1982 race when he scored a handicap victory over a highly competitive fleet on the 40-feet Suidoos.   In 2003, he returned on the 29-foot Suidoos 2 and again threatened for handicap honours.  Sailing with the exact same crew as in the 2003 race, Fagan proved pre-race predictions correct when he led on handicap for the first ten days of the race before eventual handicap winner Windsong took over the lead.  During the first 72 hours of the race, the diminutive Suidoos 2 astounded followers of the race with her cracking pace covering close to 250 nautical miles at an average speed of more than 10 knots during a 24-hour period.

However, the treacherous South Atlantic high pressure system once again frustrated Fagan when they got stuck in a lull for several days and had to contend with covering a mere 70 miles per day.  Despite their weather routing information, the system once again took its toll and Fagan had to watch his handicap lead being destroyed by a flying Windsong, skippered by Rob Meek.  The super-light racer made the most of their more northerly course and light wind preference to eventually take line honours in 16 days 2 hours and 46 minutes.

Respectfully dubbed "Ancient Mariner" by the rest of fleet, Fagan and his crew was elated at their arrival in Salvador.  "Obviously those windless days were awful.  We also had a couple of breakages and had to fix the several sails by hand-stitching, but it was a great race," mentioned Fagan shortly after his arrival.

With the final cut-off date of 4 February looming and only a week to go, all eyes are now turning to the remainder of the fleet.  Currently John Morley's Dream is the yacht with the furthest distance still to go to the finish with 928 miles left of her ocean crossing.  As she is currently averaging over 140 miles, she should be in Salvador before the official cut-off next weekend if the winds hold.  Both mini-Transats are looking in good shape to finish over the next couple of days.  Brit Richard Smurthwaite sailing solo on the 6.5metre Crean is less than 500 miles from the finish and currently making good progress at speeds averaging 6.77 knots.  Fellow single-handed Argentinian sailor Rodrigo Cella on board Federico trails by about 200 miles.

For race positions and updates, visit www.heinekencapetobahia.co.za.

MEDIA RELEASE                           WEDNESDAY, 25 JANUARY 2006

QUADRIPLEGIC SKIPPER FINISHES HEINEKEN CAPE TO BAHIA RACE

Today saw the fulfilment of a longstanding dream for quadriplegic skipper Russell Vollmer when he managed to complete the Heineken Cape to Bahia race on his catamaran Omnimed Seague earlier today.  Vollmer, who is also the commodore of Royal Cape Yacht Club, gathered a crack crew of six and special modifications were done for the 3380-mile ocean crossing.

This race saw Vollmer’s second attempt at a South Atlantic crossing as he sailed in the 2000 Cape to Rio race, but did not manage to finish before the official cut-off time.  This time he took to the seas in a fast cruising catamaran that suited him ideally as the Chris White designed Atlantic 55 provides ample space to accommodate his wheelchair.  The configuration of the yacht also gave him the opportunity to be more independent and the ability to contribute more to the physical aspects of sailing. 

Finishing in just 21 days, Vollmer still had to contend with a ding-dong battle with Dave Bird’s Admiral Explorer and managed to pip them during the final approach to Salvador to finish just 55 minutes before them at 04h28 on Tuesday morning (09h28 SA time).  Shortly after the finish an elated Vollmer said:  “It was a great race!  I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the crossing. While the winds were light and the sea flat, it meant much more mobility for me. Obviously the heavier weather curtailed my mobility significantly.  This race was a challenge for me as I wanted to complete it in a good time, on a yacht with the potential for a podium position and with a crew of friends. I am so grateful to the owner of Segue, Malcolm Hodd, who gave me the opportunity to meet another of my challenges and our sponsor,Adrien Pule, who provided the financial backing to bring it all together.

The two KwaZulu Natal entries Unzipped (Adrian Kuttel) and Unleashed (Dale Promnitz) continued their sibling rivalry right to the finish line.  The two identical Alex Simonis-designed Pacer 42 Clubs, built and owned by Leisure Yachts in Durban, finished the epic blue-water classic a mere 7 minutes apart shortly before 04h00 Brazilian time.  The next boat expected at the finish line is Wayne Badehorst and Danny Blackenberg’s African Renaisance, which had only 128 miles to go at the last daily position report.

Gawie Fagan and his crew on Suidoos 2 is still 177 miles out of Salvador, but are currently experiencing good breezes and maintaining an average boat speed of almost seven knots.  If they can keep their speed up, they should finish on Thursday morning and are likely to shuffle the handicap leader board significantly.  Although they are currently in 10th place on handicap, a finish time of less than 23 days could see Suidoos 2 usurping Polo Sport Gumption current position of runner-up on handicap.

For the two mini-Transats Crean and Federico, the race is still far from over.  The small 6.5 metre yachts are being sailed single-handed by Brit Richard Smurthwaite and Argentinian Rodrico Cella and still have 776 and 998 miles to go respectively before they hit Salvador.  Both are currently making good progress at speeds just under 7 knots.  The two mini-Transants are the smallest yachts ever to participate in the South Atlantic race.

For race updates and daily positions, visit www.heinekencapetobahia.co.za.

RACE UPDATE -  TUESDAY, 24 JAN 2006 

 

Dear Race Followers,    

 

Herewith finishing times to date as follows:

Most recent boat to arrive in Salvador:
- Mamelie - 24th at 04,19,07 UTC.
We are expecting Thunderchild in at about 12,30 today...

Recent finishers

- Windsong - 20th at 15:46:36
- Gumption - 21st at 14:42:19
- Blithe Spirit - 23rd at 11:36:20
- MTU Fascination of Power - 23rd at 13:47:43
- Devonvale Broadreach - 23rd at 14:58:46

 

Due to the last finishers, the handicap rankings have shuffled significantly.

 

See attached position report for the latest update. (or scroll down to view position table)

 

DIARY ENTRY FROM AUTOATLANTIC THUNDERCHILD (TC):

REVEALED....  "Keel Damage, All Safe on Board"

 

Hi all Thunderchild supporters,

 

This will no doubt be the most significant communication leaving TC the entire race, but we feel that we owe an explanation and clarification to all family, friends & followers on the situation reported as an "onboard anomaly" on the 4th day into the race, and eluded to in subsequent diaries. With under 200 miles to go to the finish and having run flat downwind for the past few days, we feel our situation is now reasonably safe and that we can finally come clean:-

 

On the morning of the fourth day of the race, after powering out of Cape Town in a 35-knot southeaster and reaching for three days to the northwest at boat speeds of up to 23knots, a serious structural crack was discovered in the boat's aluminium space frame during a routine inspection of the bilges. The space frame, the backing base on which the boats keel bolts to the hull, had developed a 750mm fracture of the weld from the front of the keel to about half way back on the port side. Basically the port side of the keel root has become disconnected from the structural aluminium reinforcing inside and any further failure of the weld could be sudden and catastrophic, ripping out the glass fibre bottom of the boat. This crack is panting open and shut as the boat heels over waves. We can only presume this damage occurred while pushing the boat over the first 72 hours of the race, as pre-start examinations of the hull, keel and space frame were carried out by three qualified experts.

 

Being mindful of the recent Moquini tragedy (Durban - Mauritius race) crew safety is of paramount concern and a decision was made to immediately depower Thunderchild to lessen the stress on the keel. The boat's inflatable liferaft, 100 litres of fresh water, lifejackets and survival essentials have been stationed at the stern and crew members allocated tasks in case an emergency evacuation becomes necessary. Grab bags containing passports, flares, a portable VHF radio, the satellite phone, GPS, torches and extra batteries have been placed strategically  for swift removal. A crewmember has been allocated the task of activating the EPIRB emergency warning beacon if necessary and emergency frequencies on the SSB radio have been brushed up on. Should the keel fracture or separate from the hull, there would more than likely be only a few minutes to evacuate the yacht (bearing in mind that it would probably be lying on its side or upside down). We are grateful that a few of the crew have just completed a survival at sea course, a condition placed on every yacht before they were permitted to start the race.

 

Once all emergency precautions had been taken, the skippers then called a crew meeting in order to discuss the following options:
- To take the same option as Hi Fidelity (we had just heard that they had retired from the race with a damaged rudder after hitting a whale) and to sail 800 miles back to Cape Town against strong winds and swell which would entail heavy beating which in turn would
place additional and dangerous stress on the keel or:
- to carry on to Salvador (downwind), choosing a route where we could keep TC flat, thus minimising the stresses on the space frame while on port tack. This essentially meant that we were in the hands of the gods with regard to our route in that we would be obliged to follow the contours of the wind patterns.

 

The crew was further informed that the first consideration was to get TC to shore safely & that competing in the race would have to become a secondary consideration.
It was unanimously agreed by all that returning to Cape Town would be far too dangerous and that the only alternative was to continue on to Salvador. It was almost an Apollo 13 situation - we couldn't return directly home before first reaching our destination. It was then agreed that family & friends not be informed about the seriousness of the situation but instead that regular satellite phone contact be maintained with one of the yachts in the fleet. It was also decided that as our co-ordinates are only given once a day to Cape Town Radio, we should include current time/position/heading information each time we email updates to our website administrator, so our position is always known.

 

It was also extensively debated as to whom in the fleet we could inform of our dilemma, as we obviously did not want the situation leaked to the press before family were informed. It was eventually decided that Alan Mathias on Omnimed Segue would be informed. Alan, being a crewmember of Thunderchild back in Cape Town, an extremely reliable person and an old friend to boat, seemed to be the perfect choice. The fact that he knows the boat well and is also due to handle the delivery of Thunderchild back to Cape Town after the race was a bonus. Alan has been duly kept updated of our situation via satellite phone. It was also agreed that the only mention we would make in our daily diary of the situation was of our "onboard anomaly” that was forcing us to deviate from the best route.
Daily checks on the extent of the damage and whether it may be worsening were also decided upon. It was determined that keeping the boat flat and continuing to run with the wind toward Salvador on the rhum line was the safest option.

 

It becomes quite nerve wracking whenever TC is powered up or heels over too much, particularly whilst lying in ones bunk attempting to get some sleep. At least one night of heavy winds was spent sailing under mainsail only in an effort to keep the heel of the boat at a safe angle.

 

Whilst it had always been a serious race consideration to follow a straighter rhum-line course to Salvador trading the stronger trade wind conditions further north for the shorter course& lighter wind condition further south, the damage to the keel left us no option but to continue the straighter course. Due to prevailing weather conditions it was only possible to tack on day eleven at which time we tacked into an upwind situation. Even then, light weather beating into the chop felt uncomfortable and was cause for concern, again causing us to compromise on our preferred course. Whilst we knew that we were heading into very fickle wind areas, it was still soul destroying having to wallow around for some 5 days down south whilst our competitors up north pulled away in leaps and bounds.

 

Thankfully our conditions in general have been light, a factor that has played a part in minimising pressures on the keel and allowing us to get TC back to within 200 miles of the finish. The irony of the situation is that when we are alongside, it is a matter of about an hours work with a qualified welder to repair the damage.

 

We offer apologies to family members and friends for not sharing this information sooner, but felt the delayed timing of this disclosure to be best given the circumstances.

 

The crew of Auto Atlantic Thunderchild express disappointment at the situation, particularly in relation to our sponsor, Auto Atlantic. The disappointing result is regrettable, but we are all relieved to know that Salvador is just over the horizon and that we are sure to arrive within the next 24 hours, safe & sound & without further mishap.

 

We would like to thank Alan Mathias and all onboard OmniMed Segue for their assistance throughout the race and for maintaining the confidentiality of the situation.

 

To our Web-mamma Janey - we did not want to confide in you on the situation as we felt that it would not be fair on you to have this burden of uncertainty hanging over yourself - our apologies & thank you for a tremendous job well done.

 

To our crew who have gone through quite a tense period but have never faltered in their duties – thanks to you all.

 

Co-Skippers
Rhett & Glenn Goldswain

MEDIA RELEASE                           TUESDAY, 24 JANUARY 2006

DAMAGED YACHT LIMPS INTO SALVADOR TO FINISH HEINEKEN RACE

The crew of the Lavranos-designed Auto Atlantic Thunderchild is celebrating their completion of the Heineken Cape to Bahia yacht race after supporters and race spent anxious hours awaiting their arrival.  In a communication off the boat on Monday, the crew reported that they have been sailing with severe keel damage for the past two weeks.

According to the crew, they did not want to alarm friends and family unnecessarily, but felt that with Salvador in sight an explanation for their frustratingly slow progress should be forthcoming.  “We discovered the crack in the boat’s aluminium space frame during a routine inspection of the bilges about four days after the start.  Basically the port side of the keel root became disconnected from the structural aluminium reinforcing inside and any further failure of the weld could be sudden and catastrophic, ripping out the glass fibre bottom of the boat. This crack is panting open and shut as the boat heels over waves. We can only presume this damage occurred while pushing the boat during the first 72 hours of the race, as pre-start examinations of the hull, keel and space frame were carried out by three qualified experts.”

Fears that the rough, bumpy seas and strong winds would add stress to the keel and endanger the lives of crew members should they turn back for Cape Town urged the crew to continue for Salvador.  This decision caused the boat to search for low wind and flat seas to minimise stress on the keel.  “Obviously the safety of the crew was my primary concern and we had the boat’s inflatable life raft and emergency survival supplies stashed on board in case an emergency evacuation became necessary.  We are all relieved to know that Salvador is just over the horizon and that we are sure to arrive within the next 24 hours,” wrote Rhett Goldswain yesterday.

Auto Atlantic Thunderchild received a tumultuous welcome when she finished the race shortly after 15h00 SA time.  This setback has obviously ruined Thunderchild’s chances on a good handicap placing, but the handicap rankings are constantly shuffled as more yachts finish the epic ocean crossing.

It is starting to look as if Windsong will maintain her first place on handicap and that skipper Rob Meek and his crew will be the recipients of the magnificent South Atlantic trophy.  Nicholas Mace on Polo Sport Gumption remains in second place, while John Martin on MTU Fascination of Power is currently third after they finished on Monday afternoon.  Double-handed sailors JJ Provoyeur and Anthony Spillebeen celebrated their arrival in Salvador and overall fourth place on handicap on Monday night.

Both Gillie B (Mike Bartholomew) and the German entry (Mamelie) finished in the early hours of the morning (08h12 and 09h19 SA time respectively) to move into fifth and sixth places on handicap.  Gawie Fagan and his 3-man crew on board Suidoos 2 are still being plagued by the lightening winds and are averaging just over 5 knots with over 300 nautical miles still to go to the finish line.  80-year old Fagan led the handicap race for the first ten days after the start, but the light conditions has seen them slip down to seventh spot on the rankings with hopes of making good times diminishing quickly.

For race updates and daily positions, visit www.heinekencapetobahia.co.za.

MEDIA RELEASE                                   MONDAY, 23 JANUARY 2006


FLURRY OF FINISHES IN HEINEKEN CAPE TO BAHIA YACHT RACE
The 37-foot Reichel Pugh design Windsong, skippered by Rob Meek, took line honours in the mono-hull class of the Heineken Cape to Bahia yacht race when they finished in 16 days 2 hours and 46 minutes on Friday evening.  Skipper Rob Meek and his crew are obviously delighted with this achievement and look set to make it a double whammy with the handicap honours as well.  Depending on the finish times of the rest of the fleet, Windsong could join only two other boats in the history of the race to win both line honours and the South Atlantic handicap trophy.

Polo Sport Gumption, skippered by Gauteng businessman Nicholas Mace, put up a brave fight after instrument failure earlier in the race caused them to divert to a more northerly course than originally planned.  However, as the South Atlantic high pressure system played havoc on the fleet, the northerly route suddenly looked tactically like an inspired move.  As the rest of the fleet was becalmed, Gumption still managed speeds in excess of 8 knots to make up valuable time.  Gumption finished her race on Saturday evening in 17 days 1 hour 42 minutes – a mere 23 hours behind the superfast, light-weight Windsong to provisionally take the second spot on handicap.

It now becomes a waiting game for the yachts that have already finished.  Gawie Fagan’s Suidoos 2 is clinging tenaciously to the third spot on the handicap ratings and could still be a threat to the second placed Polo Sport Gumption.  Son Henry Fagan reported that all is well on board the 29-feet yacht and that everyone is in good shape.  “Conditions are still favourable for excellent trade-wind sailing.  We’re flying along beautifully with just over 470 nautical miles to go to the finish.”

The race committee in Salvador is currently frantically busy organising a warm Salvador welcome with dancing groups, traditional blessings and samba bands for the next arrivals due later on Monday.  Australian Neville Stanford and his crew on the multi-hull Blithe Spirit and sailing legend John Martin and his naval crew on MTU Fascination of Power finished within hours of each other.  Blithe Spirit finished in 19 days 11 hours 36 minutes, while Martin clocked in at 19 days 13 hours 47 minutes just after 15h00 SA time.  The double-handed entry Devonvale Broadreach with JJ Provoyeur and Anthony Spillebeen on board is also expected to finish shortly.

However, the wind gods continue to haunt the competitors as lighter airs are being reported throughout the fleet.  A very frustrated JJ Provoyeur reported being stuck only 15 miles from the finish.  “I can’t believe it.  We are currently doing only 3 knots and the wind has literally died on us.  We had John Martin in sight earlier, but they’ve disappeared and we’re still out here.  It is excruciating!!”

Martin and his crew have been relegated to fifth position on handicap by the German entry Mamelie, who snuck into fourth place on handicap over the weekend.  Devonvale Broadreach is currently in sixth place.

For race positions and updates, visit www.heinekencapetobahia.co.za.

 

RACE UPDATE -  MONDAY, 23   JAN 2006 

 

Dear Race Followers,   

 

With 3 boats already docked in the port of Bahia, see attached images of the arrival of Gumption and crew.

We eagerly await the arrival of next competitors in line:  Blithe Spirit, Mtu Fascination of Power and Devonvale Broadreach . We were expecting them to arrive yesterday this time, but with no wind, no arrival!      

Based on the latest report, Blith Spirit has a mere 22 nautical miles to shore, Mtu Fascination of Power has 33 miles to go and Devonvale Broadreach is close behind with 37 miles before reaching the finish.

 

See attached position report for the latest update. (or scroll down to view position table)

 

DIARY ENTRY FROM OMNIMED SEGUE: SUNDAY EVENING


'Chasing down the Admiral'

 

We are fair romping home, great speeds through the night, 11 knot averages in an hour, great sailing!

 

At sunrise a masthead light was spotted on the port forward bow, they were identified as Admiral Explorer, Dave Bird. They've done very well to be ahead of us but we are hoping to change this situation. Working hard on closing them down and to make matters worse the winds have lightened and we're required to work much harder at our boat speed.

 

Deck showers are very popular and again today, even Malcolm succumbed, but when asked if he enjoyed it, he commented, "Cold and wet, most unpleasant!"

 

Best,

The Crew

 

SAT-SUN 21/22 Jan

 

No media releases received other than to say that Windsong finished on Friday as scheduled followed by Polo Sport Gumption on Saturday.  Looks like PSG’s plan of going north at the start (even though it was partly due to instrument failure) paid off as they did not suffer any days of little or no wind and were able to make up the extra miles from their deviation and also pass the rest of the fleet.   Congratulations to both boats.

 

RACE UPDATE -   FRIDAY,  20 JAN 2006 

 

Dear Race Followers,   

 

As we excitedly await the arrival of Windsong in Bahia, expected at noon today (5pm SA time), the rest of the fleet continues the battle of the waves and the wind in the race against time. Unleashed has made remarkable progress moving up 4 positions (from 11th yest to 7th place today).

Unzipped, Maestro and Gilly B have all moved down 1 position in the IRC class.

In the Rally-Multi class, Alleycat has climbed 1 position to 4th place with Admiral Explorer moving down 1 place to 5th position.

 

 

DIARY ENTRY FROM LEADING 'WINDSONG' : THURS EVE AT 18h50

 

Riding the squalls into Salvador

 

We expect to cross the finish line off the Marina Bahia at noon today . 

 

We have been experiencing frustrating and demanding sailing conditions as we get closer to the coast. The prevailing wind has dropped to 9 knots except where the large black rainsqualls come sweeping down onto Windsong and the wind changes direction and increases in strength to 30 knots. 
.These gusts hit at night and we have had a few classic broaches.

 

We are well positioned with regard to our opposition and are nicely placed between Gumption and the finish and she appears to be more than a day behind us.

 

Our crew are now working as tight knit unit but looking forward to our first meal, which is not freeze dried.  Each day we open a ration pack numbered for the day and
the only items that we have pirated from later packs is musli and rusks, so Esme Beamish who vitalled the boat has done a great job.  Even our illusive water maker
is working and we are all in good shape.

 

The wind has just dropped away to 3 knots and we expect a night of hard sailing before we finish.

 Regards to all,
Rob Meek

MEDIA RELEASE                           WEDNESDAY, 18 JANUARY 2006

HANDICAP HUNT IS ON FOR HEINEKEN CAPE TO BAHIA FLEET


The Simonis Fast40 Polo Sport Gumption is chasing hard to decrease the lead between her and handicap frontrunner Windsong, skippered by Rob Meek, in the Heineken Cape to Bahia yacht race.  Gauteng businessman Nicholas Mace and his crew are pushing the boat hard and managed a distance of 232 nautical miles at a pace of 9.6 knots during the past 24 hours.   While Windsong only has 455 miles to the finish line in Salvador and is enjoying good breezes and boat speed, Polo Sport Gumption still trails by approximately 280 miles and will definitely put up a good fight.

Gumption took the most northerly route of the whole fleet and the gamble is paying off handsomely as she moves into second position on the handicap rankings and relegating former handicap leader Suidoos 2 into third place.  Fortunately the wind is coming through and most boats have reported significantly increased speeds and vastly improved spirits on board. 

Skipper Mace is hoping to get stronger winds in order to haul in Windsong and has commented on the competitiveness of this race.  “This is one of the only South Atlantic races in history that constitutes a genuine, highly competitive race. Mono-hull line honours could just as easily have gone to Hi-Fidelity, Thunderchild, Gumption, Unleashed or Windsong – a 5 boat race. The fact that it is Windsong, the smallest of these, leading shows just how tactical the race has been. Almost all the others have almost been foregone conclusions. Similarly, the handicap competition has been a very closely matched affair with likely candidates including MTU Fascination of Power, Devonvale Broadreach, Suidoos 2, Unzipped and Gilly B.  It will be close in the end,” wrote Mace aka Skipper Sweetie.

John Martin and his naval entry MTU Fascination of Power remains in fourth, while the Germans on Mamelie are placed fifth.  Double-handed entry Devonvale Broadreach has dropped down to sixth spot.  In a message from Anthony Spillebeen, he mentioned that JJ Provoyeur had a nasty fall and is currently in quite some pain.  “We were flying along and as we came off a relatively long surf, I just heard a bang and then the proverbial expletive.  I found JJ prostrate on the leeward deck over the runner winch with that nasty little shiny bit digging into his ribs.  No blood, but extremely painful.”

At the south of the fleet Thunderchild is still struggling for breeze and for the second day in the row had to face a low mileage of 73 miles.  A report on their website reads: “Another frustrating day awaits us. It seems that someone has contrived to send us into every light aired area in the whole South Atlantic. This is day four of this no wind story and frustrations have given way to irritation. Everyone is on edge and it's not much fun to be aboard. All we can do is wait patiently for the wind to fill in - although the non-fulfilment of the past few days’ weather predictions has not left us with much hope for this. “

Towards the rear of the fleet, solo sailor Richard Smurthwaite on board Crean exulted in the long-awaited wind.  “What a difference a day makes!  Spirits are high again on Crean.  This is what these mini-transat boats are made for.  I have been surfing at 10-12 knots on a direct heading for Salvador and did 100 miles in 12 hours - certainly a personal record.   Flying fish are now accompanying me in shoals of 200, which look like a flock of birds taking off - spectacular.  I have devised a new way of keeping things on course whilst resting.  I found that when the boat is heeled at the right angle, I can see the Windex through the hatch and can change direction from my bunk using the autopilot remote control,” reported Smurthwaite.

p.s. Windsong is a UK boat!

MEDIA RELEASE                                   TUESDAY, 17 JANUARY 2006

WIND KICKS IN FOR HEINEKEN CAPE TO BAHIA FLEET

After frustratingly slow progress for the Heineken Cape to Bahia fleet during the past couple of days, the weather gods have eventually smiled on the fleet again.  As the high pressure systems shifts, the wind is filling in and boat speeds are generally picking up. Rob Meek on Windsong is still in the handicap lead followed by Gawie Fagan on Suidoos 2 and Polo Sport Gumption in third place.  John Martin and his naval crew continues in  the fourth spot with double-handed entry Devonvale Broadreach remaining in fifth place on the handicap rankings.

Windsong’s more westerly location to the rest of the fleet has seen her skirting the worst effects of the high pressure system and she’s back to a boat speed of over 8 knots.  Wolf Seitz, navigator on board handicap leader Windsong, reports relief at the changing conditions.  “The worst is over - we have changed gear and are heading for base.  We seem to have broken out of the lull and are back to regular trade wind conditions of 12-16 knots wind speed.  We were fortunate to be able to skirt the 'parking lot' most of the fleet is still struggling to escape. It seems as if the South Atlantic high moved north and split into two cells, trapping most of the fleet in an extended calm in the middle. This also forced us further north of our intended course in fairly light conditions adding extra time and distance to our passage,” writes Seitz.

Looking at their position, Seitz reckons that Suidoos2 will still struggle for wind for the next 24 hours.  “Gumption has made a remarkable appearance on our radar screen to the north east of us. However, they will be challenged to catch up the 300 nautical miles difference as the pressure starts to fill our sails as well,” mentions the 2003 Cape to Rio race handicap winner.

Auto Atlantic Thunderchild has probably been the most severely affected by the shift in the system and had to be satisfied with a dismal 2.3 knots boat speed and coverage of only 55 miles.  This saw them drop another two places in the handicap rankings to tenth position.  “After a hot and deathly boring day, we have finally found some wind. That we are doing only 5 knots and are happy about it, should tell you something about our levels of frustration,” read the report from the boat early this morning.

The German crew on board Mamelie is delighted with their overall fifth place on handicap.  Last night they reported a magnificent full moon and eventually getting enough wind to outsail the flying fish.  “We’re currently running along nicely and if we manage to maintain an average speed of 7 knots, we are in a really good position to get to the top of the IRC 2 class.  We need to give some time to our chief competitor Suidoos 2, but if we concentrate and put in the effort, we might just achieve this goal,” stated the message on their website.

MEDIA RELEASE                                   MONDAY, 16 JANUARY 2006

HANDICAP BATTLE HEATS UP IN HEINEKEN CAPE TO BAHIA YACHT RACE

After this weekend’s excitement at Adrenalina Pura’s record-breaking crossing in the multi-hull class of the Heineken Cape to Bahia yacht race, the rest of the fleet is settling down to fight the frustrating battle for wind and ultimately handicap honours in this blue water classic.  Rob Meek and his crew on Windsong have increased their hold on the handicap position and opened a 31-hour lead over former handicap leader Suidoos 2. 

The hi-tech Windsong still has 869 miles to go to the finish line in Salvador and is currently maintaining an average boat speed of 6.95 knots.  As the most westerly located yacht, Windsong has escaped the frustration of absolute wind lulls, while Suidoos 2 had a miserable day and only managed to make 72 miles progress to keep their second position in the handicap rankings.

Polo Sport Gumption on the other hand is currently on an absolute flyer averaging over ten knots.  Skipper Nicholas Mace took a gamble last week when he veered almost due north, but it seems as if this tactic is paying off as their run during the past 24-hours has catapulted them into third place on handicap.  As predicted over the weekend, the rest of the fleet was captured in nearly windless conditions, while the breeze filled in for Gumption.

John Martin on MTU Fascination of Power has moved down to fourth place and reported extremely frustrating conditions.  “For the first time in the race, we actually stopped dead still for about 3 hours.  Talk about parking lots!!  On the bright side, the water temperature is 25 ºC and the sea the most stunning turquoise,” wrote Martin.

JJ Provoyeur and Anthony Spillebeen sailing double-handed on Devonvale Broadreach remain in fifth place and are also fighting the elements.  “Shortly after filing my report on Saturday, JJ advised of a pending shower.  There was a big black cylinder of water on the horizon and we were sucked into this system, pulled forward with a feeling of euphoria, only to spit out the moment we felt comfortable.  There we sat for 12 hours becalmed in a place that is surely very beautiful for gin and tonics, but not for yacht racing.  Fortunately we’ve been moving it up again since Sunday evening.  Formulating a new game plan and eking every last sport of energy out of the wind,” wrote Spillebeen. 

German Jakob Leverkus on board Mamelie and Mike Bartholomew on Gilly B have managed to force Auto Atlantic Thunderchild down into eight handicap position, but spirits remain upbeat onboard.  “After two days of patchy light winds and a period of over 10 hours sitting becalmed, we have finally hit a good airflow, which is propelling us to the west at over 7 knots.  In approximately 12 hours, we will alter course to the north and begin the fast and exhilarating run toward Salvador. Needless to say, the general morale of the guys has improved exponentially with the increase in boat momentum,” reported their website on Sunday.

MEDIA RELEASE                           SUNDAY, 15 JANUARY 2006

RECORD SHATTERED IN HEINEKEN CAPE TO BAHIA

The Brazilian catamaran Adrenalina Pura crossed the finish line in Salvador at approximately 18h00 local time (23h00 SA time) on Saturday evening to take line honours in the multi-hull class of the Heineken Cape to Bahia yacht race.  With her awe-inspiring performance and crossing time of 10 days 8 hours and 1 minute, Adrenalina shattered the previous crossing record by just over to five days. Skippered by owner George Ehrensperger and Donald Wright, Adrenalina Pura set the record of 15 days 8 hours and 44 minutes in the 2003 Cape to Rio race when multi-hulls were for the first time allowed to enter the race.

As predicted, she beat the race organisers to Salvador and two travelling South African journalists and officials from the nautical centre CENAB became the official race time keepers in the absence of the race committee.  Seasoned followers of the race reckon that this record could stand unbroken for several future races.  Adrenalina Pura and her crew received a boisterous welcome to Bahia, the land of the drums, with dancing girls in traditional costumes and musical troupes waiting at the quayside to welcome them home. 

According to Ehrensperger, it has been an absolutely incredible race.  “We had the best sailing on the first night of the race when the boat reached a top speed of 27 knots.  We’ve been really lucky as our wind never slackened and we had no problems on board.  We literally just had the best weather ever,” said Ehrensperger shortly after his arrival.  Ehrensperger played a huge role in persuading local organisers and the Bahian authorities to bring the race to its new finishing port of Salvador, capital of the state Bahia, for the first time in the illustrious history of the South Atlantic race, which was first sailed in 1971.

“I suspect that this might actually be my last South Atlantic race, although the boat might be back to defend her record.  I would, however, very much like to stay involved in the organisational side of the race.  I think this is an absolutely amazing and exciting race.  It has huge potential to grow and I’d like to play a part in that,” mentioned Ehrensperger.

In the race for handicap honours and the coveted South Atlantic trophy, a ding-dong battle is developing between the front runners.  Most of the fleet is currently almost becalmed as the dreaded South Atlantic high pressure system lives up to its reputation of ruining races.  Except for handicap leader Windsong and the more northerly located Polo Sport Gumption, the reports of frustratingly slow progress have poured in from all the boats.

Windsong still leads Suidoos 2 in second position with John Martin in third position on MTU Fascination of Power in third position.  Double-handed entry Devonvale Broadreach with JJ Provoyeur and Anthony Spillebeen has moved up into fourth place and German entry Mamelie in fifth.

Veteran sailor John Martin, skipper of the naval entry MTU Fascination of Power, has posed the question whether paddling is against race regulations.  “This is literally what they call being up the creek with no paddle.  Well, at least we’re maintaining our sense of humour.  With an average speed of 3½ knots there’s not much else we can do,” wrote Martin.

Rob Meek on Windsong still enjoys the handicap lead and is delighted with their pre-race tactics.  “Our more northerly course has definitely paid off as the boats to the south of us have been trapped in the South Atlantic High.  Our secret weapon to get Windsong through the high was to unleash the three Vaalies on the boat.  For them the South Atlantic High is like heavy weather sailing compared to what they are used to sailing in on the Vaal Dam.  Wingsong is behaving like a highly spirited filly in these conditions and her large billowing spinnakers are able to get her moving fast in almost any wind,” wrote skipper Rob Meek from on board Windsong.

Meek reckons he has pulled together a highly balanced team with three Gauteng sailors, two Capetonians and one Durbanite.   As navigator, Wolf Seitz brings his experience of a handicap win in the previous Cape to Rio race to the game, while Craig Schweitzer is on as general crew and Graeme Willcox, winner of the recent Fireball nationals, is a specialist helmsman.  Matt Trautman from Durban is the bowman and will be Windsong’s delivery skipper back to the United Kingdom.  Sieraj Jacobs from Cape Town has taken a break from the Shosholoza crew and is bringing a high level of professionalism to Windsong from his America’s Cup experience.

Gauteng businessman Nicholas Mace on Polo Sport Gumption has put his instrument problems behind him and is still worrying the rest of the fleet.  “Except for Gumption and Windsong, the more southern boats are trapped in low to zero winds and according to predictions can expect no relief for the next three days.  On the other hand we are making in excess of 180 miles per day and expect to increase this substantially if we can jump into the wind belt just ahead of us.”  Within the last 48 hours Gumption has moved from 13th to 8th place on the handicap rankings.

MEDIA RELEASE                                   FRIDAY, 13 JANUARY 2006

WINDSONG LEADS HANDICAP RACE IN HEINEKEN CAPE TO BAHIA

Following ten days of incredibly resolute performances by Gawie Fagan and his 3-member crew in the Heineken Cape to Bahia yacht race, Suidoos 2 has relinquished her handicap lead.  After a close battle fought over several days in ever lightening wind conditions, Rob Meek on Windsong has overtaken the 29-feet Suidoos 2 to head the handicap honours list in this epic trans-Atlantic crossing.  Over the past 24-hours, Windsong has opened a lead of 3.5 hours over closest rival Suidoos 2, but with the unpredictability of the South Atlantic high, this can by no means be considered a comfortable lead.

Skipper Rob Meek was delighted by their ranking today, but hesitant to celebrate too early.  “Now the question is, can we hang onto it? Gumption is beginning to look like a threat - she's very fast in light winds (but so are we), and she's further North than us. On the other hand, yesterday she was 300 miles behind us and she owes us time on handicap. The high is forecast to move South again and she could get the wind before us,” mentioned Meek.

By position report time earlier on Friday, Polo Sport Gumption continued to baffle spectators – this time through radio silence.  Gumption was the most northerly positioned boat of the whole fleet and speculations were rife that Nicholas Mace and his crew were planning a very tactical assault on their competitors into Salvador.  However, in an e-mail to race organisers later on Friday, Mace admitted to major instrument trouble on board.  “All our offsets were deleted.  This was combined with a GPS failure and no communications between the PC and the instruments and GPS.  The result was that we were steering further north rather than northwesterly – a blunder that has seen us lose 60 miles to Thunderchild,” wrote a disappointed Mace.

All is not necessarily lost for Gumption as her position at the top of the high gives her significantly more wind than the remainder of the fleet, which is literally becalmed.  “We’re getting between 8-12 knots of winds and the forecast is that the calms in the south are due to persist for a couple of days, while we can expect 12-14 knot breezes in our area.  Who knows, we might just be able to pull a great Houdini.”

The curse of the Atlantic has struck most of the fleet as the high pressure system doubled in size and brought most of the yachts to a crawling halt.  Whether it is just the feared hole of the high pressure system or if the old fishermen’s superstition about Friday the 13th “A Friday’s sail always fails” is coming into play, only time will tell.  Fagan has slowed down to an average of only 4.75 knots while the rest of the contenders are having to work hard to keep speeds up, which are currently hovering under 6 knots. 

MTU Fascination of Power, skippered by John Martin with a naval crew, remains in third position with Auto Atlantic Thunderchild entrenched in fourth place.  Double-handed entry Devonvale Broadreach continues a good performance to stay in fifth place, which is a very credible position if taken into account that they’re sailing two up against fully crewed competitors.

Adrenalina Pura, skippered by George Ehrensperger and Donald Wright, looks set to shatter the multi-hull crossing record of 15 days and could even beat the race committee to Salvador.  With only 495 miles to the finish at an average boat speed of 13.7 knots, the big catamaran could cross the finish line as early as Saturday afternoon in an incredible crossing time of only ten days.

MEDIA RELEASE                                   THURSDAY, 12 JANUARY 2006

WEATHER SLOWS DOWN HEINEKEN CAPE TO BAHIA FLEET

The dreaded South Atlantic high pressure system has eventually caught up with most of the fleet participating in the Heineken Cape to Bahia yacht race.  After a couple of really fast days, the system has almost doubled in size within a couple of hours and light winds have been reported widely.  Except for the front runners, most competitors are experiencing significantly slower boat speeds and smaller distances covered.

Gawie Fagan on the small Suidoos 2 is still clinging ferociously to his handicap lead and although they only covered 153 nautical miles in the past 24 hours, they are still leading Rob Meek’s Windsong.  Meek and his highly experienced crew are currently the most westerly located mono-hull and it seems as if their winds have persisted as they managed to cover 210 miles at close to 9 knots.

The ding-dong battle for the third spot on handicap between John Martin and his navy crew on MTU Fascination of Power and the Goldswain brothers continues as Martin swaps moves into third place and Auto Atlantic Thunderchild slips down to fourth place.

Devonvale Broadreach being sailed double-handed by JJ Provoyeur and Anthony Spillebeen, remains in fifth position and it seems that their route tactics of a more northerly route continues to pay off as they covered close to 200 miles.  Provoyeur wrote earlier today that they had an interesting though predominantly light day. “We know the race is about light air tactics and just maybe that gybe north is going to have some silver lining attached to it. We are both physically tired, more from sleep deprivation than physical work.  It has become obvious to us that double handed sailing against fully crewed boats is a bit more than we thought and that our combined naturalyl competitive instincts are forcing us to become smart quickly.  Someone on deck 24/7 is imperative to keep the speeds up.”

Polo Sport Gumption continues on its northerly course and confounding spectators with her tactics.  Speculations are rife that skipper Nicholas Mace might just have an ace up his sleeves and could cause a surprise if the wind gods smile on him.  With the exception of the big multi-hulls, the lighter Windsong and Devonvale Broadreach, Gumption was the only boat to cover a distance greater than 200 nautical miles.  This might mean that she’s still in stronger breezes and if the high pressure system lulls the rest of the fleet, Gumption could be in win a strong chance.

In the mean time a race of a different kind has developed between the Brazilian catamaran Adrenalina Pura and the race organisers to see who will get to Salvador first.  After the latest report, George Ehrensperger and his crew are going full throttle averaging over 15 knots with only 823 miles to go to the finish.  Having obviously caught the better winds in front of the system, they are recording their fastest speeds of the race to date and could finish as early as this coming Saturday.

Paraplegic skipper Russell Vollmer is also on an absolute flyer on the catamaran Omnimed Segue maintaining an average boat speed of over 13 knots in an attempt to catch rival multi-hull Blithe Spirit, skippered by Australian Neville Stanford.

Solo sailor Richard Smurthwaite on the 6.5metre mini-Transat Crean is also lamenting the wind changes.  “Having had a good day yesterday averaging 10/11 knots and covering 150 miles, the wind has dropped right off today.  Spent 7 hrs creeping out of it by going North, and even North East for a bit, but is now underway again.  Celebrated being out there for one week by having fruit cocktail and evaporated milk!    Lots of baby powder and sudocrem are being used for the sore bits, which are now emerging.   Grateful for that extra piece of foam that was packed at the last minute!  Generally in good spirits though,” wrote Smurthwaite.

MEDIA RELEASE                           WEDNESDAY, 11 JANUARY 2006

ROUTE TACTICS CRUCIAL FOR HEINEKEN CAPE TO BAHIA RACE

After a day of radio silence, Gawie Fagan on Suidoos 2 reported his position this morning to confirm that he still leads the handicap race in the Heineken Cape to Bahia yacht race.  A great day of sailing, the 37-feet, super-light Windsong has, however, reduced the lead on handicap to just over 3 hours.

Skipper Rob Meek and his crew covered 226 nautical miles averaging 9.4 knots during the past 24 hours.  According to race secretary Eric Wells, Windsong is currently really well-placed in the existing weather conditions and on a more westerly course.  “I would, however, keep a close watch on Nicholas Mace of Polo Sport Gumption as they might be on a flyer and if they strike stronger winds, there might be an exciting challenge on the cards.  Gumption was the only other mono-hull to cover a similar distance (225 nm) at a similar speed to that of Windsong,” stated Wells. 

Polo Sport Gumption started on a more northerly course earlier this week and is still going north.  Although they are on virtually the same latitude as Windsong, they are still further to the east and a sudden wind change could cause quite a battle.  Gauteng businessman Mace predicted prior to the start of the race that he’ll take a more northerly route and then try to slingshot into Salvador.

John Martin and his naval crew on board MTU Fascination of Power remains in third position on handicap with Auto Atlantic Thunderchild in fourth place.  The double-handed entry Devonvale Broadreach with JJ Provoyeur and Anthony Spillebeen on board has moved up two positions in the rankings into the fifth position on handicap.  Earlier this week, they decided on a more northerly course similar to that of Gumption, which saw them dropping down to 7th place. 

In an e-mail by Spillebeen, he confessed their initial disappointment with their tactics to sail a more northerly course, but this was soon remedied.  “We met good steady breeze and have just come off a potential 230 mile straight line day, which has been an awesome experience even if the desired effect on the overall position is not there.  We were flying along, chatting, snacking and dealing with a humungous squall.  The predawn was awesome with Provs (Provoyeur) at his vintage best, bottom lip tucked in and head cocked.  With an average wind speed of 15 knots, we never dropped below 9 knots,” wrote Spillebeen.

MEDIA RELEASE                                   TUESDAY, 10 JANUARY 2006

PURE ADRENALINE IN HEINEKEN CAPE TO BAHIA RACE

The Brazilian catamaran Adrenalina Pura had another scorcher of a day in the Heineken Cape to Bahia yacht race covering close to 300 nautical miles at an average boat speed of 12.45 knots.  She seems to be headed due west and managing to sail over the top of the notorious South Atlantic high pressure system.  With only 1400 miles still to go to her home port of Salvador, it becomes more likely that the current multi-hull crossing will be shattered by several days.

George Ehrensperger and his crew set the record of 15 days 8 hours 44 minutes and 33 seconds in the 2003 Cape to Rio, which was widely considered a fairly slow race.  With the shorter route to Salvadar, capital of the state of Bahia in Brazil, race organisers were fairly confident that the record will be bettered.  Before the start of the race, Ehrensperger predicted that they should be able to shave at least a day off the existing record in the forecasted weather conditions.  If Ehrensperger and his highly experienced crew of Claudio Bieikarck, Alex Welter, Donald Wright, Chris Tibbs and Gustavo Pacheco maintain their current blistering boat speeds, a new crossing record of 11 days is definitely on the cards.

Ehrensperger regularly sailed with Brasilian crack yachtsman Torben Grail, the most successful Olympic sailor of all times, on the MUMM 36 circuit in Europe and the States in the mid-1990’s.  He was also instrumental in the dynamic and exciting route change for the historic South Atlantic Race, which will be finishing in the spectacular city of Salvador, Bahia for the first time since its inception in 1971.

Although Gawie Fagan on Suidoos 2 did not report his position today, an estimated distance of 175 miles keeps him in the handicap lead over Rob Meek’s Windsong in second and John Martin on MTU Fascination of Power.  Auto Atlantic Thunderchild is in fourth position with Mike Bartolomew’s Gilly B in fifth place. 

Both double-handed entry Devonvale Broadreach (JJ Provoyeur/Anthony Spillebeen) and Polo Sport Gumption, skippered by Gauteng businessman Nicholas Mace, have veered sharply north and although this have resulted in slower speeds, the next report will show if this tactical gamble has paid off.

According to an early morning e-mail from Spillebeen, the move has already paid dividends.  “We know the competition is to the north – now it’s hunting season.  We started gibing north and slowly began to build speed.  The plan was to stay north until a big header or shift came along.  The shift came violently early this morning and voila, we’re pointing back to Bahia.  We’ve also settled into our game plan of both being on deck in the wee hours.  Life on board is great, eating well, although not quite following the menu plan. Bit of improvisation as we go along.  As Napoleon

said: “A good army marches on its stomach.” I think Taberley also preached
 this rule,” reported Spillebeen.

For daily updates and tracking, visit www.heinekencapetobahia.co.za

MEDIA RELEASE                                   MONDAY, 9 JANUARY 2006

THE CHASE IS ON IN HEINEKEN CAPE TO BAHIA RACE

On day five of the Heineken Cape to Bahia yacht race, the yachts at the front of the fleet have hit the trade winds and the first couple have crossed the Greenwich Meridian.  With approximately 2000 nautical miles still to go to the finish line in Salvador, skippers are now turning their minds to tactics in order to catch handicap leader Gawie Fagan on Suidoos2. 

Fagan has been in the handicap lead since day one of the 3380 nautical mile trans-Atlantic crossing and is putting in a stellar performance on the small 29-footer.  At this stage, Suidoos2 is leading her closest rival Windsong by more than six hours on handicap.

Rob Meek on Windsong has maintained their position in second place on handicap and is turning his attention to catching Fagan.  “Windsong being such a light boat with a large sail meant that our weather routing programme indicated a more Northerly course than the rest of the fleet.  The next couple of days should show which route worked the best.  Today we suddenly arrived in the trade winds, the skies cleared and the sea became deep blue and warm with skimming flying fish.  As the weather settles and the crew has managed a bit of rest, we were able to dry out the boat and get some order.  The rest of the fleet are strung out to the south of us as we approach the Greenwich meridian.  We look forward to a tactical exercise as we move westward towards Bahia and see how we can slip past the Ancient Mariner on Suidoos 2,” wrote skipper Meek in an e-mail.

Another veteran sailor John Martin and his navy crew on board MTU Fascination of Power also made the most of the improved weather conditions by jumping two places to third spot on handicap.  “We are cooking out here!  Had a really good night averaging 11 knots and surfing at 17 knots!  We actually saw stars last night and spirits are high,” reported Martin early on Monday morning.

The Goldswain brothers on Auto Atlantic Thunderchild are in fourth place on handicap.  JJ Provoyeur and Anthony Spillebeen sailing double-handed on Devonvale Broadreach are continuing to fulfil pre-race expectations of a very competitive challenge by remaining in the top five on handicap.

George Ehrensperger’s catamaran Adrenalina Pura is still leading the charge into Salvador and at her current pace is expected to shatter the existing multi-hull crossing record of 15 days.  The big catamaran is approximately halfway to her home port and can reach it within 11 days if current weather conditions persist. 

For further information and updates, visit www.heinekencapetobahia.co.za

MEDIA RELEASE                           SUNDAY, 8 JANUARY 2006

LINE HONOURS FAVOURITE WITHDRAWS FROM HEINEKEN CAPE TO BAHIA

The yacht HiFidelity, skippered by Eddie de Villiers and Allan Dawson, has officially withdrawn from the Heineken Cape to Bahia yacht race.  The highly successful Asian racer was widely considered as the favourite for taking line honours in Salvador, the new finishing port in Bahia, Brazil.  The yacht officially retired today and is currently heading back to Saldanha after sustaining serious rudder damage in a collision with a whale.

The rest of the fleet is reporting regular rain squalls as they head towards the high pressure system.  Gawie Fagan on Suidoos2 continues to lead the race for handicap honours with Rob Meek and his crew on Windsong maintaining their second place.   Windsong’s performance comes as no surprise although their departure from Table Bay was the first time that the Windsong team sailed together.  Skipper Rob Meek has pulled in Gauteng businessmen Wolf Seitz, handicap winner of the 2003 Cape to Rio, and the highly experienced Craig Schweitzer as part of his crew and race organisers consider Windsong as a strong handicap contender.

Auto Atlantic Thunderchild skippered by Rhett and Glen Goldswain continues her good run in third position.  According to their latest e-mail, the crew is feeling very confident.  “Our course is basically straight to Salvador.  So once we are over the high, which should be in the next day or two, it will be straight downhill to Salvador.”

Former around-alone sailor JJ Provoyeur is tackling the race double-handed with Anthony Spillebeen on Devonvale Broadreach.  A good 24-hour run of 243 nautical miles and averaging 10.13 knots has seen them move up to fourth position on handicap.  John Martin and his navy crew on MTU Fascination of Power reported a quiet night on board.  “We’ve had lots of rain squalls, clouds and it has been strange not to see any stars for 3 nights running now.  We had a slowish run and only did 220 miles, but we are happy enough to be about 9 knots currently," said Martin.

In the first news from the mini-Transat Crean, Brit Richard Smurthwaite mentioned that he was flying along at an average speed of 7 knots.  “I was hit by the first squall yesterday, but am OK.  Conditions are settling now although the bowsprit broke when I put the gennaker up.  Took me three hours to saw part of it off and bind it up, but I’m happy as it’s probably stronger than before.  I wish I had a wider variety of food as I’m already getting bore with the limited choice.  And my socks are beginning to smell – all part of the joys of living within a 6.5 metres boat!”

MEDIA RELEASE                           SATURDAY, 7 JANUARY 2006

FAGAN LEADS HEINEKEN CAPE TO BAHIA YACHT RACE

80-year old Gawie Fagan, a Cape Town architect and veteran of the South Atlantic Race, maintains his handicap lead in the Heineken Cape to Bahia yacht race which started in Cape Town on 4 January.  Putting in an amazing sailing performance, Fagan and his crew of three on board the 29-foot Suidoos2 continues to astound with their speed averaging just under 10 knots the past 24-hours.

Rob Meek on board the yacht Windsong had a particularly good day covering a distance of 273 nautical miles at an average speed of over 11 knots.  This has catapulted them into second place on handicap and shows the combined experience of the crew.  Navigator Wolf Seitz is no newcomer to the race and actually put in a show-stopping performance when he took handicap honours in the 2003 race on board the yacht Baleka.  Seitz reported that the conditions on board are very cramped.  “Everything is sopping wet and we’ve been working really hard.  We’re all very tired and desperately in need of sleep.  We had prepared food for the first two days and only got around to cooking our first meal on Friday afternoon.  It was roast leg of lamb with potatoes and veggies.  This probably sounds very exotic until you realise that it’s all freeze-dried,” stated Seitz.  

Auto Atlantic Thunderchild has moved to third position on handicap with John Martin and his navy crew on MTU Fascination of Power in fourth place.  After three days of sailing in big swells, lots of wind and no sleep, Martin reported their first gentle night at sea.  “The swells are now down to only two metres and the wind has subsided enough to allow us to fix some leaks and catch up on some much needed sleep.  The repairs are holding well and spirits on board are high,” mentioned Martin.  Martin should be quite happy with his move up the handicap rankings as he was expecting a drop down the leader board after they experienced rudder problems earlier.

The battle in the multi-hull class is still being led by the huge catamaran Adrenalina Pura, who is heading for Salvador at speeds averaging over 14 knots.  She is followed by Australian Neville Stanford on board Blithe Spirit.  The Australians almost saw their trans-Atlantic dreams scuttled when the boat sustained damage to her hull a mere hour before the start of the race.

For updates and position reports, visit the race website on www.heinekencapetobahia.co.za

MEDIA RELEASE                                   FRIDAY, 6 JANUARY 2006

WILD RIDE FOR HEINEKEN CAPE TO BAHIA FLEET

Participants in the Heineken Cape to Bahia yacht race, which left Table Bay earlier this week, have reported a wild and wet 24-hour period.  A third of the 30-strong fleet reported average boat speeds of over 10 knots since the last position report.

The yacht HiFidelity is back on local shores after hitting a whale and sustaining rudder damage.  A disappointed owner and skipper Eddie de Villiers is currently in Saldanha where the yacht has been taken out of the water.  “The bearing was badly damaged and as we could not find one here, we’re currently having one made.  If all goes well, we can be out of here tonight by 20h00 to rejoin the race,” mentioned De Villiers.

”We really had a narrow escape.  Gary Sindler was at the helm at the time of the collision  and if I did not manage to catch him, he would have gone overboard after the impact.  Fortunately we hit the whale with the bottom of the rudder.  If the impact was any higher up, I think the rudder would have come off and we’d have sunk.”  HiFidelity was rated as the fastest mono-hull in the race and was a widely toted favourite for line honours in Salvador.

In the race for handicap honours, Gawie Fagan’s 29-foot Suidoos2 is still flying at an average speed of over 10 knots.    Fagan and his crew of son Henry Fagan, Jamie Waters and Brandon Smith are sailing their socks off covering 244 nautical miles within the last 24 hours to maintain their handicap lead.  The Goldswain brothers on Auto Atlantic Thunderchild remains in second position with the KwaZulu Natal entry Unzipped (Adrian Kuttel) moving into third place on handicap.  Rob Meek on Windsong is fourth with the double-handed entry Devonvale Broadreach taking the fifth spot.

The double-handed team of JJ Provoyeur and Anthony Spillebeen on Devonvale Broadreach reported a wild night after their steering cable sheered and they had to install a makeshift spectra cable courtesy of the tack line.  “Last night came with a vengeance.  No moon, no lights, big swells! I’ve always dreamt of being at the helm with the spray flying, but not in the dead of night.  Anyway the cable held and is now finally adjusted,” wrote Provoyeur, who also recounted sightings of three albatrosses, a lonestar and lots of whales during the night. 

John Martin and his naval crew on board MTU Fascination of Power have also seemingly overcome their rudder problems, which took over an hour to repair yesterday.  “It's real rough and tumble out here with 7 metre swells and very wet.  We’ve had a good night and the repairs to the rudder bearings are holding up.  We’re currently catching up and averaging about 11 knots,” said Martin.

In the multi-hull class, the big Brazilian catamaran Adrenalina Pura is screaming towards home.  She covered 384 nautical miles at a reported boat speed average of 16 knots during the past 24 hours.  No position reports were received from Maestro or the two mini-Transats Crean and Federico. 

Don’t worry there has been an update from Crean and he is doing well, if a little wet

MEDIA RELEASE                                           5 JANUARY 2006

POTENTIAL LINE HONOURS WINNER HEADING BACK TO SHORE

Less than 24 hours after the sizzling start of the Heineken Cape to Bahia yacht race in Cape Town on Wednesday, 4 January, the yacht HiFidelity is heading back to shore with reported rudder problems.  HiFidelity, co-skippered by owner Eddie de Villiers and Allan Dawson, was officially rated as the fasted mono-hull in the fleet and considered as a top contender for line honours in Salvador.

The yacht reportedly sustained damage to her rudder and is heading for St Helena Bay.  De Villiers bought the 42-foot racing yacht in Malaysia last year specifically for the 3380 nautical mile Heineken Cape to Bahia race.

At the first daily position report, the Brazilian catamaran Adrenalina Pura was still leading the fleet towards her home port of Salvador at an average speed of over 13 knots covering 322 miles since the start.  In the mono-hull class, Polo Sport Gumption (Nicolas Mace), Auto Atlantic Thunderchild (Rhett & Glen Goldswain) and Windsong (Rob Meek) are giving chase at boat speeds exceeding 8 knots.

The oldest participant in the race, 80-year old Gawie Fagan is currently at the top of the handicap leader board on the small Royal Cape One Design Suidoos 2.  This performance comes as no surprise as Fagan made history during the 1982 race when he scored a handicap victory over a highly competitive fleet on the 40-feet Suidoos.   In 2003, Fagan returned on the 29-foot Suidoos 2 and again threatened for handicap honours. 

The newly lightened Auto Atlantic Thunderchild is second on handicap, followed by Ankie Roux and Paul van As on Maestro.  Windsong is in fourth place and the KwaZulu Natal entry Unzipped (Andrew Kuttel) in the fifth spot.

MEDIA RELEASE                                           4 JANUARY 2005

FLYING START FOR HEINEKEN CAPE TO BAHIA FLEET

The fleet of 30 yachts participating in the 2006 Heineken Cape to Bahia yacht race got off to a flying start in Table Bay in perfect sailing conditions with a strong southeasterly of approximately 25 knots and flat seas.  The fleet set sail at 15h00 (SA time) 1300GMT and the top contenders quickly made their serious intentions known.

John Martin and his naval crew on MTU Fascination of Power led the fleet towards the first mark off Granger Bay amongst a flotilla of local support craft, but the Fast 42 was quickly overtaken by the superfast Brazilian catamaran Adrenalina Pura.  The 20-metre catamaran, co-skippered by George Ehrensperger and Donald Wright, went flying past the first mark at an approximate boat speed of 20 knots and showed that the multi-hull crossing record of 15 days set in the previous Rio race will definitely be under threat.

Polo Sport Gumption, skippered by Gauteng businessman Nicholas Mace, was the first to put up a spinnaker and showed her true potential to pass the second mark off Mouille Point in second place.  Asian racer HiFidelity, skippered by Eddie de Villiers and Allan Dawson, went past the mark in third place and showed why she is officially rated the fastest mono-hull in the race and serious contender for line honours in this class.

Devonvale Broadreach, the double-handed entry of JJ Provoyeur and Anthony Spillebeen, narrowly avoided a collision when another yacht threatened to broach, but continued without further incident.  Durban entries Unzipped and Unleashed and Thunderchild formed part of the first group of yachts to head past Robben Island for their epic journey of 3380 nautical miles to the finish port of Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia in Brazil.

The dream of Australian skipper Neville Stanford to participate in the Heineken Cape to Bahia yacht race was nearly shattered even before the official start gun went off.  Battling to manoeuvre the 12.7 metre catamaran Blithe Spirit off the moorings at Royal Cape Yacht Club in gusting southeasterly winds, the yacht hit the moorings and an adjacent and sustained damage to both hulls.  They did however manage to repair the damage and set off shortly after the rest of the fleet rounded Robben Island.

Stanford, who arrived in Cape Town three months ago, left Sidney in March last year to fulfil his dream of doing a trans-Atlantic crossing from Cape Town.  “I’ve wanted to return to South Africa for a long time and this race was a perfect opportunity to do so,” said Stanford, who is sailing this epic blue water crossing with old friend Ross Letten and a scratch crew.

For live tracking and updates, visit the race website on www.heinekencapetobahia.co.za.