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Rio Calling…The Voyage of the Century

maybe it’s a bucket list thing…
maybe it’s a repeat sailing addiction thing…
maybe it’s a line honours record thing…
maybe it’s a new year’s resolution thing…
maybe it’s a double-handed thing…
maybe it’s the adventure of a lifetime thing…

The Cape to Rio is an Ocean Race across the South Atlantic between Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro. It dates back to 1971. It is the longest single transcontinental race in the world, and attracts club and professional sailors alike. The race connects the iconic, exotic and historic into an incredible cocktail of deep blue water sailing. Whether you are a hard-core racer, a family cruiser, or an avid adventurer, a memorable voyage awaits…

The next edition of this Ocean Classic will be incorporated into the centenary celebrations of the Iate Clube Rio de Janeiro. It will also include a visit to St Helena Island, for those electing to enter the Cruising Class.

For the Cape to Rio 2020 Ocean Race, there will be two starts. The first start, scheduled for 2 January 2020, will be for cruisers and lower handicap boats, and will be routed via a compulsory stop at the island of St Helena. The island is also now accessible via a commercial passenger airline, which adds the opportunity of a pit stop visit from non-sailing family and friends. The island stop is almost half way to Rio, being 1700 miles from Cape Town, and about 2100 miles from Rio. Sailing via the island will route yachts away from the heart of the windless South Atlantic High. By connecting the mid South Atlantic dots, the offering of a stop at St Helena adds considerable interest, value, and safety in numbers for the cruising community, and is sure to be popular. The mandatory 48 hour stop will be deducted from the cruisers elapsed time for the overall race, but there is no reason not to stay longer on the Island if you so choose. Either way, just 48 hours will be deducted.

The second start, scheduled for 11 January 2020, will be for racers on higher handicap boats, racing directly between Cape Town and Rio. This is a more technically challenging route as yachts will need to negotiate and navigate the fine line between “cutting the corner” around the South Atlantic High, in a constant dance to save on overall distance sailed while keeping sails full and flying in reasonable wind.

For the less conventional and eccentric adventurers, there has always been talk about sailing the other way around the windless South Atlantic high pressure system, especially in the seasons when it has moved further north, but remember that for safety reasons there will be a latitude limit set as to how far south you may sail.

Boats in both starts may be eligible for the overall handicap prize of the South Atlantic Trophy for monohulls and the SAR&H Trophy for multihulls. There will be a line honours prizes for both starts, but the official race line honours accolades will go to the racing class only, being the De Beers Line Honours Trophy for monohulls and the SA Marine Corp Trophy for Multihulls.

The ORC rating platform will be used to calculate handicap times for monohull entries, and the Texel rating system will be used for multihull entries.

The race time limit is set for noon on 1 February 2020.

Response to the Preview to the Notice of Race, which was posted on the Cape to Rio Facebook page, has been very positive. The post reached 7850 people, was shared 48 times, and the page has an ever growing following numbering 5670 at the time of writing.

A number of boats from the last and previous Cape to Rio Races have committed to entering again, and there are very strong indications that the Royal Cape Sailing Academy will enter their very own team aboard the refurbished One Tonner, Archangel.

The event website will go live on 1 June 2018. The Notice of Race and Entry Forms will be published on 1 June 2018.


Luke Scott

Chair: Cape to Rio 2020

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