Banjo – Kevin Webb’s Farrier F9AX trimaran, co-skippered by Sarel van der Merwe, crossed the finish line of the 1,750-mile Governor’s Cup Race at 17:35:24 on Tuesday 1 January.
Webb and van der Merwe arrived in Jamestown, St Helena to a hero’s welcome after a 10-day downwind blast from the South African port of Simon’s Town. The team aboard this superfast trimaran sailed a good, tactical race and were unstoppable.
As they stepped ashore Team Banjo were surprisingly chirpy but Webb did admit to feeling content to be back on shore. “We are feeling relieved and happy. We tried hard, had a great sail. We made a couple of tactical errors but our revised strategy paid off.”
Although the conditions were light at times, particularly in the early part of the race, most experienced classic Atlantic conditions at some point. For Webb and van der Merwe, there was one particular day that really stood out. “We had a run of 225 miles over a 24-hour period with the highlight being screaming down waves at 18kts. We also had a few bad points too, which included experiencing really dark nights and falling into massive holes in the sea.”
Eyes are now focussed on the second boat to arrive in St Helena. As the situations currently stands, Sandpiper 2 – Abri Erasmus/Paul Tanner’s Simonis Voogd 42ft catamaran – is due to cross the finish line sometime today. However, at 0800 (UTC) she had just less than 90 miles to go and with lighter winds expected, it could be a late evening finish.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the Racing Monohull fleet as the battle for overall handicap honours continues. Although Thinus Groenewald’s Royal Cape One-Design – Reaction – is still in an overall favourable position on handicap, 12 miles ahead of Indaba (John Levin’s Stadt 34), she is currently making just 4.5kts, while Indaba is speeding along at 7.5kts to the east of the rhumb line. For Indaba to be in with a chance of winning overall on handicap in this late stage of the race however, she needs to overtake Reaction and finish far enough ahead to still win when handicap is applied.
In the Rally Monohull fleet Ivan Flodgren and the Swedish team aboard their Hallberg Rassey Rasmus 35 – Kuheli – have maintained the overnight lead ahead of JML Rotary Scout, a Tosca 39. The Swedes took the initial fleet lead in the early part of the race but JML Rotary Scout, co-skippered by Peter Bosch and Stephen Jennings and crewed by a group of Scouts from Cape Town and St Helena aged between 16-18 years old, took a turn at the front of the fleet two days ago, and are keen to repeat this performance in the next 24-hours.
In third place in this fleet, and sailing consistently well are the Fisher family (Luke, and Monica, together with their two children – Todd, 14, and Amy, 13) aboard Bryana, a Dudley Dix 38ft steel-hulled, home-completed yacht. As well as maintaining third in fleet, they are currently leading the race for the Family trophy.
Kevin Ward’s Elan Impression 434, Canace, sponsored by Nampak Bevcan’s CAN DO!, crewed by a team of five between the ages of 52 and 70, also appears to be holding a good position and is now in fourth place in the fleet with 199 miles to go to the finish. Ward chatting from the yacht at 0800 (UTC) this morning said: “We are having an exciting race because we now have Compromise, the cat, just ahead of us. At the moment the wind is blowing a good south-easterly 25kts so we are blasting along. We are hoping it won’t drop because this is the sort of wind that suits us perfectly. We are planning to reach the finish line at about midday tomorrow, if the wind continues. In these conditions we are sailing goose-winged, with the genoa poled-out rather than flying the spinnaker because we find this setup makes it a lot easier.”