Following decades of Lipton Cup Challenges being sailed on the trustworthy, robust and home grown Lavranos 26, the pressure was mounting on the Trustees to find a more modern boat to compete for this prestigious trophy. Held annually off the shores of South Africa, the Lipton Cup trophy, a deed of gift from Sir Thomas Lipton, is one of the oldest active sporting trophies in South Africa, with only the Currie Cup rugby trophy being the oldest. The challenge trophy is open to all sailing clubs in South Africa to take up the challenge of competing in the annual regatta, with the defender deciding on the venue. Cape Town-based Royal Cape Yacht Club has been the most successful club with 14 wins since the first challenge in 1907. And it is not by coincidence that RCYC member, Irvine Laidlaw, conceptualized the Cape 31, which has now been selected as the boat of choice for next year’s regatta.
In the words of Lipton Cup Trustee Chairman, David Hudson:
“For the past 33 years the L26 has been the boat of choice for the Lipton Challenge, and for much of that time it has served this event well, providing a sound platform for competitive one-design racing.”
In recent years, however, as the L26 has aged and the world of small keelboat racing has moved in the direction of sport boats and beyond, we have seen a declining interest in L26 racing in South Africa. Consequently the Lipton Challenge is no longer attracting our top sailors as it did in the past.”
Now, with the emergence of the Cape 31, and with these boats being built at a rate of one a month, we have the prospect of a modern, high-performance one-design keelboat class presenting an exciting alternative to the L26 for Lipton Challenges in the very near future.”
The Lipton Trustees invited all yacht clubs to vote on one of three options to decide on the way forward for Lipton Cup, those being:
Option 1. Lipton Trustees’ proposal. “This Club resolves that the 2019 Lipton Challenge be held in boats of the Cape 31 One-Design Class and the 2020 Lipton Challenge be held in boats of the J22 Class, and that after these two trial years the recognised Yacht Clubs of South Africa be invited to decide on the boat to be used in one or more of the following years.”
Option 2. Alternative proposal. “This Club resolves that the 2019 and 2020 Lipton Challenges be held in boats of the Cape 31 One-Design Class, and that after these two trial years the recognised Yacht Clubs of South Africa be invited to decide on the boat to be used in one or more of the following years.”
Option 3. No change. “This Club resolves that the 2019 Lipton Challenge be held in boats of the L26 Class, and that the recognized yacht clubs of South Africa be invited thereafter to decide on the boat to be used in one or more of the following years.”
Voting closed on the 21st September and results were made available on Monday 8th October with some interesting results, showing an even split between all three options, 7-7-7, the vote count by the executive committee of 21 clubs in South Africa. This meant that the combination of the option 1 and 2 even splits resulted in the Cape 31 being the selected boat for the next edition of the Lipton Cup. It is now up to Cape 31 owners and future owners to embrace this decision by making sure that all 12 existing Cape 31’s are on the start line next year.
Prior to the vote, Hudson added “These trials will be invaluable in planning the way forward for the Lipton Challenge. Also, the change to something quite different in 2019 and again in 2020 will certainly shake things up in this classic event. We hope that the majority of the clubs interested in the Lipton Challenge will join us and vote boldly against “more of the same”, and will join us again after the 2020 event in a further vote on the future of the Lipton Cup.”
As an added bonus to this decision, there will be a Lipton Youth Challenge sailed on L26’s on the same waters during the same week as the Lipton Challenge Cup.
“The Trustees have resolved that should next year’s Challenge be held in the Cape 31, a “Lipton Youth Challenge” will be held during the same week on the same waters but over shorter courses, in boats of the the L26 Class. This will not be an inter-club event, individual teams of any composition will be welcome. The organisors will make every effort to ensure that L26’s are available for charter, either with or without sails. The intention is that more young sailors will be able to share in the excitement of the Lipton Challenge, enjoy a close-up view of the racing, and have a real opportunity to learn from the very best sailors in South Africa. Details of this event will be announced together with the Notice of Contest for the 2019 Lipton Challenge in October.” added Hudson, prior to the voting process.