Wrap Up for Point Yacht Club Vasco da Gama Yacht Race

Durban: Thursday 27 April
In a thrilling slide down the coast to Port Elizabeth, a new record has been set, and one broken in the 46th edition of the Vasco da Gama hosted by the Point Yacht Club that started offshore of Durban at midday on Freedom Day, and concluded a few hours after sun up yesterday (Saturday).
Overall line honours and the title holders of the new multihull record, the crew of SmartTri40 co-skippered by Theunis Potgieter and Sean Jones bolted through the finish line in a dazzling time of 42 hours, 58 minutes and 53 seconds. Smashing the monohull record, the yacht Rocket captained by Herbert Karolius rocketed her way down in 44hours, 1 minute and 53 seconds, annihilating the 2015 record set by Nicholas Mace on Gumption. The previous record was 54 hours, 58 minutes and 2 seconds.
An exhilarated Sean Jones said after a long shower, “It was beautiful, absolutely beautiful! Never in my forty years of competing in the Vasco race, have I experienced a race like this with such consistent weather, it was downwind all the way. The excitement onboard, it was just phenomenal.”
No stranger to multihull sailing, Jones is the owner to one of the quickest boats in Durban, his pacey catamaran, Bandit. “The tri is a beauty to sail, compared to Bandit, she really is a dream. A more modern design. Surfing downwind, you just had to put her in the right place, line her up and you would hardly have to adjust her. You can really push it on the tri, be on the edge and still feel like you are completely in control. SmartTri40 is a lot more powerful, a lot more forgiving. She is a machine but completely controllable.”
The crew of four sprinted down to East London in 23hours, clocking a top speed of 24.8knots with the breeze recording at around 37knots, “We didn’t have any up-to-date weather info onboard, so when we checked the weather before we left, our plan was to stay inshore and run down with the current but we just ran out of breeze. It took 23hours to do the first ¾ of the race to East London, and another 23hours to finish the last 100NM. That is perhaps the only thing I would have changed, the routing, so that we didn’t sail into the holes. Everything else was absolutely fantastic. What I would call champagne sailing, great fun!”
The team onboard the SmartTri40 were an experienced bunch of yachties with many sea miles under their belt between them, but all except Jones had competed in the gruelling Vasco. Bandit’s motto, a slogan sticker on her boom, states proudly, ‘Give it horns!’ and that they did.
In Rockets third attempt at this 400NM race to Port Elizabeth, she has finally been rewarded for her persistence and dedication with a record. Marking his tenth Vasco race, skipper Karolius from Johannesburg celebrated his milestone by crushing the monohull record. “We were lucky with the weather, it was really kind to us. Usually in a Vasco you get hit by a couple of fronts, especially between Durban and PE. This year we set our sails after rounding the fairway mark in Durban, we put in one gybe and close to the finish did two tacks close, and that was it in 400NM!”
They reported exhilarating sailing all the first night, and some frustration during the light patches in their second night. The team were 70 NM offshore and set a near perfect course down to the finish.
The top speed that Rocket clocked was an impressive 23.8knots, recorded on the first night around 2am, The team made up of seven Vaal dam sailors and three Cape Town sailors went further offshore compared to the rest of the fleet, a tactic that paid handsomely for them, “We opted to go offshore in search of the current and of course, riding the wind down. About three hours out of Durban, we blew our heavy weather spinnaker after flying it for about an hour and a half, the only heavy weather kite we had onboard. With the wind as it was, we didn’t get a chance to fly any of our other kites. The seas were rough where we were so that was a bit challenging but overall it was very nice sailing!”
The small fleet that competed in the epic 400NM race traversing some of the most treacherous coastline in the world, are all were safely docked near Algoa Bay after a unique race.
The next major event for the Point Yacht Club is the clubs 125th birthday celebration, so it is fitting to see records tumble in this milestone year for the club.
1 SmartTri40 (Sean Jones / Theunis Potgieter) 42 hours, 58 minutes, 53 seconds NEW RECORD, 2 Rocket (Herbert Karolius) 44 hours, 1 minute and 53 seconds NEW RECORD, 3 PYC Dusky (Jon Marshall) 49 hours, 43 minutes, 29 seconds, 4 Benguela (Miles Webb) 49 hours, 49 minutes, 0 seconds

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