Durban: Thursday 27 April
Slugged as the ocean Comrades race, the 46th Vasco da Gama hosted by the Point Yacht Club, is due to get underway on Freedom Day, Thursday 27 April.
A small but feisty fleet of seven yachts will be lining up for this year’s 400NM blue ocean dash down to Port Elizabeth. Four boats withdrew in the week leading up to the race, including defending champion Al Mount Gay Rum skippered by the hardy Rob van Rooyen.
All eyes are on the Smart Tri 40, the only multi-hull entered, who is anticipated to blast their way down to Port Elizabeth, if the conditions are right. Skippered by Danie Colyn from Cape Town, he is determined to have her on the start line after last year’s disappointment when he experienced rudder issues during her delivery from the Seychelles and was unable to compete in the 45th Vasco.
Colyn has every ability to smash the race record of 2 days; 6 hours; 58 minutes and 2 seconds – the time by Nicholas Mace’s ‘Gumption’ in the 2015 race. On his return home to Cape Town he was knocking on 30 hours as he cruised past Port Elizabeth on his way to the Cape.
Three Durban boats are all geared up and ready to tackle this gruelling experience. Robin Hulley, a relatively newcomer to ocean racing, was the seventh entry received. Hulley will be racing on his Bavaria 36, Mafuta. He has been a regular competitor in all offshore racing
One of only a handful of skippers to be participating in his third back-to-back Vasco, Neville Bransby has been hard at work training in all conditions and getting in as much water time as possible. Bransby will be proudly skippering his new boat Ocean Spirit, a Shearwater 39, a very comfortable boat for this passage.
On his first attempt in 2015, Bransby and his crew on their Lavranos 36 named Deo Volante, did not make the passage, and last year he had a good race and indicated immediately that he would be back again this year. He endured a really tough passage back in some strong winds, and came out fighting at the end – and more determined for this year.
Returning this year after having completed the first Vasco da Gama Ocean race to Port Elizabeth in 2015 is Jon Marshall. However, he will not be sailing his own Farr 38 this time, but the PYC Watersport Academy boat ‘PYC Dusky’ – a Corrida 36. Marshall is an old hand at ocean racing as he competes in most events and in 2015 won the Inhaca to Richards Bay Race prior to doing the Vasco da Gama Race to Port Elizabeth in 2015 – so he brings a lot of experience to the boat.
PE local, John Tudehope was the third entry, racing on his boat Wallbanger. Tudehope is no stranger to this race with this year’s race being the third consecutive race he has competed in. Considered as a quiet, and determined man, he has indicated that he might even compete in the two-handed division.
No stranger to the race, Cape Town’s Herbert Karolius and his eclectic crew of ten sourced from all sailing centres of South Africa makes their third appearance racing on the yacht, Rocket. Karolius snagged the start buoy last year and dragged it for several miles, slowing them significantly and ultimately negatively affecting their chances of line honours. The team will be hoping for a clear run down the coast this year in the hunt of being the first monohull across the line.
The third competitor from Cape Town is Sean Cummings who has entered the yacht Benguela, a Fast 42. An experienced yachtie, Cummings is a principal of the 2 Oceans Maritime Academy and will be hoping to make good time to PE. The design Fast 42 has had good success in this race previously, and Cummings and his team of seven, with Miles Webb skippering is hoping to lead the fleet down the coast.
The start gun will fire at midday on Thursday 27 April, seeing a small but keen fleet setting sail in this classic and historic ocean race, the 46th Vasco da Gama hosted by Point Yacht Club.
For more info visit www.pyc.co.za or like the Vasco da Gama race’s Facebook page.
Point Yacht Club’s 46th Vasco da Gama Yacht Race
Durban: Thursday 27 April