Reporting from Rio de Janeiro.
Myrtle Of Bonnievale
The 30th January proved to be the busiest on the Cape2Rio 2020 race finish line, with six boats coming in between the early hours and late evening UTC. The race committee eagerly awaiting them just beyond Guanabara Bay, while keeping a constant eye on the horizon, their excitement for the crews building as the Tracker marked their approach.
Umoya’s mast light came into sight. It was a dark night and they had just passed through a brutal storm, aptly arriving with a big bang and luminating flash of lightening.
These five friends were having a blast, as had been their idea when signing up to do the Cape2Rio 2020 on their Simonis 35’. Their spirited passion and drive for life infectious throughout the process.
Skipper Pete Martin with Navigator Niklas Oriander were accompanied by Brydon Pilkington, Boris Vossgatter and Mirco Wilde – some experienced sailors and others not, yet collectively they knew that crossing the Atlantic was something they needed to do.
But it wasn’t to be all plane sailing. A couple of weeks into the race they’d hit a serious low pressure system and been forced to head north to avoid the brunt of it. Big decisions had needed to be made throughout their 25 day journey on how to tackle the ‘beast’ that lay between the fleet and the finish line.
Retrospectively they admit to always playing it safe in honour of the young families supporting their brave endeavour from home.
Umoya are more than good friends on a mission though. Their strong drive and #Sail4Good was creating eco-bricks with the waste generated on route. They ended up producing five, one for each crew member, each equivalent to a black bag full of plastic. They had also challenged other boats to match their efforts.
On 1st February these were handed over to a project in Rio with a presentation on eco-bricks by Pete Martin at the ‘Engineers Beyond Borders’ at the UNIRIO – Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, as arranged on their behalf by friend of the Cape2Rio Phillipa White.
The eco-bricks initiative is twofold. Not only does it help deal with the scourge of single use plastic that is suffocating the landfills and oceans, but has also proved to reduce the space taken by garbage onboard boats on such a crossing. Making it a very useful and feel good addition to the sailing world, something that Umoya can be credited with.
A collective of eco-warriors, their drive and awareness campaign highlights the waste that we generate and the importance of all cutting back on our consumption of single use plastic.
Another observation on the way was the lack of fish in the ocean. While previous years had seen competitors with a daily catch to add to the dinner pot, they had only had success once very near the Brazilian shoreline and in protected waters. ‘The oceans are heavily over-fished and stocks are depleted’.
They laughed about leaving determined to exercise each day, especially doing yoga, a plan that was short-lived. Even though they did take numerous deep ocean swims. ‘We weren’t going to cross that magnificent expanse of water without enjoying it’, they said.
Living life generously is something that this group of Capetonians appear to have mastered.
Umoya crossed the finish line on 30 January at 00:28 UTC and in 25d 12h 28m 5s.
Probably taking the longest time to cover the last mile to the finish line that extends between Ilha Do Pai and Ilha de Mae, was Argonaut. An experienced team, advocates for the race and long standing members of the Cape Royal Yacht Club.
The crew included siblings Charles and Lucy McDonald, father and daughter Wolf and
Bella Gruber, Sunny Austin and Woody Attwood – on the boat that had vowed to ‘braai all the way from Cape Town to Rio.’
It was past midnight that eventually saw their finish, and welcome from the Race Committee.
In an interview with Charles and Sunny, they commented about ‘being able to see the finish, but with the wind falling off completely, just not being able to get there…’ Reflecting on the entire crossing they said, ‘It was long, but it was very good’.
Their much anticipated arrival into Iate Clube do Rio de Janeiro saw family and friends cheering them on, buckets of beer and chilled caipirinha on the ready.
For Argonaut, a legacy boat with a lot of history, this was the 4th Cape2Rio race. For Skipper Charles McDonald the second, having done the race with his father, brother and family friends in 2006. Wolf and Charles are sailing back to Cape Town with one of the original crew from that 2006 crossing.
For this team the adventure was family focussed. Bella Gruber – daughter of Navigator Wolfgang, at 16 years old is the youngest female participant this year. Her highlight was ‘swimming with ropes tied around our waist, almost barefoot skiing in the crystal clear water as the boat picked up speed.’
‘Woody was a stow away right at the end and proved to be a very good decision. Everybody got on well and not having known him before the trip, we are pleased with how it all worked out’ says Charles.
As for their promise to braai all the way from Cape Town. ‘We braaied for 15 days in a row, took 15 bags of charcoal with us and only have 2 left. But with the freezer packing up after the first week, this idea was compromised.’
‘Most difficult thing for them was not having ice or cold drinks, and they ran out of beer much to Wolf’s horror.’
Any significant human and heartfelt moments on the trip? Well it turns out that there were, with Charles proposing to Sunny as they crossed the Meridian. She said yes! With the Cape2Rio adventure only a taster of what lies ahead for these two in their future.
The Argonaut team crossed the line on 30 January at 03:36 UTC and in 25d 15h 36m 0s.
Sun-tanned a golden bronze and shirtless, the South American crew on San Salvador looked as though they were returning from a couple of hours out at sea, rather than an ocean crossing, as they approached the finish line.
All the way from Buenos Aires, this Argentinean entry came in on the back of Leo Vugman’s desire to fulfil his lifelong dream of sailing from Buenos Aires to Cape Town, and from there to compete in the Cape2Rio.
Initially thinking he would make the voyage to Cape Town with his 23 year old son Tomas, a decision was made for Leo to rather be joined on this double handed challenge by Edmar Almeida, an accomplished Brazilian sailor and friend.
Once in Cape Town, and after touring the area, trying much of the South African wine and soaking up the scenery as a family, Leo and Tomas were ready for Cape2Rio 2020, with Edmar and 25 year old Heber da Silva completing the crew. A Family Lawyer from San Isidro, Buenos Aires, Leo found the bond formed with his son on this sailing adventure, the highlight.
Opting to be off comms for the duration, they cruised in elated at the familiar site of Sugarloaf Mountain, and the horn marking the completion of the race. Leo and Tomas are far from done though, and after the prize giving will continue to sail down the South American coast and see where next San Salvador takes them.
San Salvador crossed the line on 30 January at 16.50 UTC and in 26d 4h 50m 51s.
Myrtle Of Bonnievale
It was a treat to see the leisurely arrival of the seasoned sailors onboard the Myrtle of Bonnievale. Pierre Albertyn himself was at the helm, co-skippering with his son PK who was hard at work raising the sails for the last stretch to the finish line, mom Sonja and brother Pietman backing up.
This crew had kept their focus on safety, fun and doing the best that they can on their Leopard 40 catamaran, which was crossing the South Atlantic for the fourth time.
Joining them for the 2020 edition were two young friends Lize Maartens and Inge Swart.
As they came through the finish line they raised their powder blue spinnaker that was proudly branded for their #Sail4Good cause http://www.fasfacts.org.za/. Creating awareness around Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a real problem in the Cape Winelands community, the area the Albertyn family call home.
The race committee met them as they approached Guanabara Bay towards the finish line spanned between Ilha Do Pai and Ilha de Mae, from where Sugarloaf shaped the skyline. Donning South African bikinis and speedos, they were here and proudly representing Mzansi.
Speaking to the family once they’d settled with their catamaran cutting a fine figure next to the other Cape2Rio boats as the club, they spoke of the fact that even though Pierre had done the Cape2Rio three times before, this was by far the toughest he’d endured. There were many challenges thrown their way, including hitting heavy weather and truly having to pull together – which they did.
The two girls on board had never sailed before, yet said they knew how to follow instructions and had learnt a great deal from the experience, despite suffering bad motion sickness. The brothers praised their mom Sonja, not only for her competence as a crew member and sailor, but for keeping them incredibly well fed throughout the journey.
Her way of dealing with post storm stress? Make flapjacks!
Pierre remarked that he is proud of his family and of the crew that has seen the Myrtle of Bonnievale across the Atlantic. The whole family exclaimed how they loved being a part of the adventure – and will definitely be back for the next one in 2023.
Myrtle of Bonnievale the line on 30 January at 17.22 UTC and in 26d 5h 22m 47s.
Ronin is an entry driven by Allspice Yachting who chartered their Dean 440 Espace catamaran with renowned ocean yachtsman Mark Wannenburg as Skipper.
A Cape Town based adventure company, they were realising the hopes of father and son Andy and Kevin van der Velde, Sean Disney, Simon Rodger and Julian Murdoch to complete in the Cape2Rio yacht race. With little or no sailing experience when embarking on the voyage, under Mark’s guidance they were active competitors that had learnt on the go.
Extremely passionate about the environment, Ronin is known to work with Greenpeace and regularly partners with clients to reach their ocean research and conservation goals.
Comment from some of the crew on arrival was how long it had taken, with 26 days for a ‘non-sailor’ quite a big ask. Mark was pleased to have had the crew’s support on night watch, cooking up delicious meals, as well as while making decisions to avoid any dangers of storms they encountered on route.
The crew were met by their support group on arrival and are getting reacquainted with the feeling of terra firma under their feet. In the meantime, they were sharing tales of their remarkable crossing the achievement. The experiencing leaving them with stories of an adventure of a life time that they will be happy to dine out on for years to come.
Ronin crossed the line on 30 January at 19.04 UTC and in 26d 7h 4m 1s.
Deep Blue Adriana
Their approach to the finish line was as casual and high-spirited as their attitude to life. Relishing the moment and achievement of their transatlantic crossing, they toasted each other with a much deserved glass of chilled champagne – waving with broad smiles to the Race Committee who were there to meet them.
Owner and Skipper Diamantino Leitao and his three friends and crew in Luis Marquês, Leno Baptista and Hanns Schneider were chasing their long standing desire to do the crossing and joked that it was the party that awaited them in Rio that pushed them through the challenges they’d faced during their 26 days at sea.
As anticipated, a fabulously passionate Portuguese coming together awaited them on their arrival in Brazil. And if there was a prize for the best food served during the voyage, Deep Blue Adriana would be the recipient, from seared steak to freshly caught fish and chilled beers, they were well equipped and not roughing it in the culinary department.
They were here, and they were warmly welcomed. Equipe bem feita!
Deep Blue Adriana crossed the line on 30 January at 20.06 UTC and in 26d 8h 6m 21s.