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Race is on for a New Year’s Day finish in Governor’s Cup

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JML Rotary Scout, with Saint teenager Tyler-John Brady aboard, has taken the lead in the rally monohull class. Picture: Jan Theron
JML Rotary Scout, with a partly-Saint crew, now leads the rally monohull class. Picture: Jan Theron

The leading boats in the Governor’s Cup yacht race could reach St Helena on New Year’s Day 2013 – but it’s by no means clear which will be first across the finish line.

Race organiser Billy Leisegang, who has arrived in Jamestown on the RMS St Helena, has reported “tremendous atmosphere” as the yachts approach.

“Everyone is so excited about the arrival of the yachts,” he said. “We are guessing the first boats will arrive late on 1 January or early morning on 2 January.

Sandpiper 2 has been gaining on the race leader
Sandpiper 2 has been gaining on the race leader

“The good news is, there is a strong wind here so it’s a good sign it will be a very fast finish, and they may even arrive sooner than predicted.”

The catamaran Sandpiper 2 has been shrinking the lead set by the triple-hulled Banjo, which won line honours in the 2010 race. It was reported that only 40 miles separated them by midday on 30 December 2012.

However, the race tracker showed Banjo only 400 miles from James Bay at 18.00 hours on 30 December, with Sandpiper 2 still just over 500 miles from the finish.

“We have not seen another boat for five days, so we are looking forward to closing in soon,” said Sandpiper 2 skipper Paul Tanner.

“We are in direct competition with Banjo at the moment so we are reluctant to give too much away. However, we can report it is very hot at 30 degrees C. We have 20 per cent cloud cover, and one and a half metres of swell, and a cross chop against main swell makes it a bit uncomfortable.”

Neither yacht looked set to win the overall multihull prize, though. On handicap, Robert Newman’s catamaran, Compromise, was in lead position.

Jamestown scouts are represented in the crew aboard the leading yacht in the rally monohull section. Tyler Brady and David Joshua both left St Helena to join the crew of JML Rotary Scout, which has overtaken the Swedish team on Kuheli and is now in the lead in the rally monohull fleet. The yacht won in the same class in 2010.

Sadly for the scouts, yachts in the rally monohull class don’t qualify for the overall Governor’s Cup trophy.

There has been no word from Hedge Shuter and his St Helena Yacht Club crew aboard Patches, which has been well back in the fleet. Only a few competitors agreed to be interviewed via radio during the race, and neither of the boats with island crew were among them.

The monohull fleet has seen an intense battle between John Levin’s Indaba and Thinus Groenewald’s Reaction. Both have a chance of an overall Governer’s Cup win on handicap, depending on conditions as the fleet approaches the island.

The Fisher family aboard Bryana, a 38ft steel-hulled, home-completed yacht, is currently leading the race for the family trophy and in third place overall in the rally monohull fleet, writes race journalist Sue Pelling.

Luke and Monica and their children, Todd, 14, and Amy, 13, have been enjoying a fun Christmas break.

Before they left Simon’s Town at the start, they said that spending Christmas together on the ocean meant a lot to them. “It will be the first time we have crossed an ocean together and none of us have ever been to St Helena before, so it will be a big adventure all round.”

Eighteen yachts remain in the 1,750-mile race from Simon’s Town in South Africa. They include Black Cat, now under way again after undergoing electrical repairs in the Namibian port of Luderitz.

PREVIOUS STORY: Several yachts jostle for third position in race to Jamestown

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