For the second year running, TNT Racing skippered by Tony Norris, managed to defend their Cape 31 Invitational title. The team primarily made up of some of Phoenix’s 52 SuperSeries team, did not have it all their way and had to stave off some stiff competition from some of the local and International competitors. The fleet also welcomed the newly relaunched Nyama Choma (ex Vivaldi) skippered by Bruce Neill and Team Arabella from Ireland with Fast 40 owner Niall Dowling taking the helm on the recently launched Vulcan.
Three days were scheduled with the third day showing a possible South Easter blowout, prompting RO Doug Alison to squeeze in more races per day for the first two days than what was scheduled. Friday the 13th dawned sunny and windless with the promise of continued clear skies and a moderate South Westerly, a favorite among locals especially if picks up to the 15 – 18 knot range. Race one was a battle royal between the hot favorites with Gerry Hegie on Seascape Powered by Yanmar taking the top podium spot by the thinnest of margins, just pipping Tony Norris on TNT. The racing then went from great to fantastic, with all four races having a margin of not more than one and half minutes between 1st and 9th spot (10th boat, Lance Burger’s Turquoise was out for the day). After day one the top two positions were a dead heat with TNT on 14 points, Seascape Yanmar on 13 points and Nitro also on 13 points.
Day two dawned foggy and again windless with an almost identical forecast as the previous days’ prediction. Racing started an hour later than scheduled in a very light Westerly with early indications of a left shift, prompting teams to find a clear lane for the rush to the left side of the course. Bjorn Geiger’s MB Racing suffered an individual recall in the first race of the day, which is devastating in this quality fleet, there is simply no room for error. The day’s racing was dominated by TNT with two firsts a third and a second which was enough to seal the deal for this highly experienced team. In second place Nitro did enough to stove off the attentions of eventual third place finishers Seascape Yanmar.
The Fast 40 team from Ireland did a fantastic job of quickly familiarising themselves with the Cape 31, under the watchful eye of tactician Paul Willcox Team Arabella managed a very respectful forth overall. Their result could have been with any of the podium spots if it weren’t for a tacking incident at the top mark with Seascape Yanmar, on reflection the team decided to retire from the race resulting in them having to carry a 9th place instead of it being their discard.
Day three as predicted was cancelled due to the excessive winds in Table Bay, with a top wind speed of around fifty knots.
All in all it was an incredible spectacle of one design keel boat racing in beautiful consistent conditions, well done to to TNT for another successful regatta.
Thank you to organisers Worldsport, media partners Sail + Leisure, Royal Cape Yacht Club, the V&A Waterfront, Western Cape Government, Darling Breweries, Central Boating, all the RIB volunteers and Yanick Berlion for the use of their Maverick Catamaran.