18 Nov 2013

Boating World’s Greg and Victor were excited to spend a couple of hours onboard the PPS Logistics Clipper Racing Yacht recently, during the stopover in Cape Town of the round-the-world Yacht Race fleet. 12 new 70-foot Clippers sailed into the Mother City for a welcome rest at the end of the second leg of the race which started in Rio.

Greg and Victor were among nine invited guests, three crew members and a skipper who set off for a leisurely cruise from the Cape Grace Hotel moorings heading for Sea Point. Unfortunately the weather had turned with rain, wind and huge swells requiring foul weather gear for the whole outing.

But it was a good taste of what it is like to be one of 670 amateur sailors (representing 40 nationalities) who pit themselves against each other and the elements around the planet – in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. They take on monstrous waves, gale force winds and other unexpected conditions for nearly eleven months - visiting six continents along the way. 

The first person to undertake this grueling trip, sailing non-stop around the world - was Sir Robin Knox Johnson (founder of this race) and hundreds of enthusiasts have followed in his wake over the years.

During their outing, the Boating World pair found the conditions quite taxing although they were impressed with the fine handling of the light-weight and usually very fast yacht. Unfortunately due to the bad weather they could not put up the mainsail and their trip was slow.

Looking around the yacht, Greg says the interior is quite basic with bunks everywhere (she can sleep 26) but there is loads of storage. A simple galley provides meals for the crew who split into teams for cooking duties.

After a couple of hours the party was relieved to be back at the Cape Grace moorings where they had drinks and snacks which quelled the seasickness!

Undaunted Greg was back at sea with a client the following Monday morning but this time on a 42’ Motoryacht. Setting off from Granger Bay they joined 20 other boats which gathered to bid farewell to the Clippers gathered offshore.

Cape Town was at her best, with beautifully sunny weather and whales frolicking in the calm waters alongside adding to the festive atmosphere. The Clippers fleet was an impressive sight as they went on parade between the harbour and Clifton before leaving South African shores.

A Navy ship was on hand to start the next leg of the race and at the booming sound of the gunshot the fleet was galvanized into action and headed for Albany, Western Australia.                                                                     

Later reports confirmed that the sailors were put to the test as winds of more than 50 knots gusting to 90 knots lashed the fleet as they headed south in the Agulhas Current!

This was one of many incidents when ferocious storms tested crews to their limits on this marathon journey.  Before they reached Cape Town the South African National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) station at Port Elizabeth had to launch its rescue vessels twice in separate incidents, to provide assistance to injured crew members taking part. 

Australian David Griffin suffered an injured calf after becoming impaled on a cleat during a  violent storm which also resulting in another competitor, British woman Michelle Porter, suffering severe bruising and torn upper arm ligaments. 

As an expression of their gratitude and a recognition of the excellent service they provided David and Michelle, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race donating R50 000 to Port Elizabeth’s NSRI service.'