St Helena crew ‘home by Twelfth Night’

Reaction has claimed the 2012 Governor's Cup. Picture: Jan Theron

Reaction has claimed the 2012 Governor’s Cup. Picture: Jan Theron

Hedge Shuter and his crew aboard the Governor’s Cup yacht Patches are expected to reach St Helena by tea time on 6 January 2013 – just in time for the traditional end of Christmas on Twelfth Night.

Hedge and team mates Ross Towers, James McCabe and Sandi Francis have been at sea longer than expected, thanks to light winds that slowed down the 19-strong fleet.

According to the race positions at 0900 on 5 January, they looked set to finish at 18.00 – an hour ahead of chasing yacht TicoTico and four hours behind Maggie.

The Patches crew teamed up in South Africa.

The Patches crew teamed up in South Africa.

Fellow St Helena competitor Tyler Brady has found himself among the class winners aboard JML Rotary Scout, after a loss of wind frustrated Swedish challengers in Kuheli within sight of the island.

Kuheli reported being ten miles from the island at 09.00 on Saturday morning (5 January), with a good chance of crossing the finish line by 11.22 in order to beat the scouts team on handicap. The wind dropped in the final three hours, giving JML Rotary Scout a narrow victory.

Tyler was one of four scouts on the yacht – the others all from South Africa. He had little sailing experience before heading for Cape Town in time for to take part in a qualifying voyage of 200 nautical miles.

Co-skipper Stephen Jennings said Tyler would be welcome aboard in the future. He told SHBC reporter Damian O’Bey: “Tyler surprised us a lot.

Team Reaction celebrate reaching St Helena. Picture: SHBC

Team Reaction celebrate reaching St Helena. Picture: SHBC

“He came to us with hardly any experience, us thinking this might be a liability. As soon as he jumped on the yacht he was wide eyes, and he immediately got to work.

“He did tend to sleep a lot, but when he was helping us he learned quite quickly.

“Whenever we were pulling down a spinnaker, whenever we needed a bit of foredeck work, he would be chucking on his harness, tightening up, clipping himself in and trying to get in with the crew. Eventually he was on his own at the front, pulling in spinnakers.

“I was happy to have him as crew I’m quite happy to say he can be part of the crew whenever he wants.”

Johnny Clingham’s St Helena Community website reports that Tyler was not the only Saint novice in the race:

Sandi Francis is very new to sailing, he writes, unlike James McCabe – back in St Helena on a gap year – who has enjoyed boating all his life.

Compromise, winner in the multihull class. Picture: SHBC

Compromise, winner in the multihull class. Picture: SHBC

Ross Towers, who served as first mate, took time off from his job with St Helena National Trust to take part in the race.

Hedge Shuter, serving as a sergeant with the St Helena police, is a qualified Ocean Yacht Master who’d been a leading figure in yachting in a previous posting in the Caribbean.

The overall Governor’s Cup 2012 winner has been named as Reaction, which finished the race in 11 days, 23 hours and 43 minutes – just fast enough to beat Indaba on handicap.

Thinus Groenewald said the win resolved “unfinished business” from the previous race.

“Last time, when we were flying towards St Helena, our rudder failed and we had to pull into Saldanha Bay to fit a new one. We were convinced we could have won that one had we not had gear failure.

“Therefore we are absolutely delighted with this result. Once we found the breeze we enjoyed a fabulous sail all the way to the island.”

The first yachts home in the race, Banjo and Sandpiper 2, actually finished second and third in the rally multihull class behind Compromise, the winner on handicap.

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