St Helena Online

Tag: sailing

Big waves: the Governor’s Cup race gets under way

Seventeen yachts battled huge waves at the start of the 2014/15 Governor’s Cup yacht race between South Africa and St Helena on 27 December 2014.

The trimaran Banjo – first across the finish line two years ago – was leading the fleet as the yachts left Simons Town behind and headed for Cape Point.

Banjo’s crew had only light winds to carry them towards St Helena in 2012; this time, they were setting out in a strong 25-knot south easterly that tested the mettle of all the competitors.

The Governor’s Cup race has been staged every two years since 1996. The 2014/15 will be the last that allows supporters to follow the fleet out to the island aboard the RMS St Helena – and for crews and yachts to be transported home on the ship. The ship is set to be retired soon after the island’s first airport opens in 2016.

Read the report of the start on the event website, here

Governor’s Cup stories (2012/13)
Governor’s Cup pictures (2012/13)

Saint sailor gets set to resume round-the-world trip


James Herne is getting ready to continue his quest to become the first St Helenian to sail round the world. He and his wife Hanna and three children set out from the UK on their 38-foot Bavaria yacht, Carpe Diem. After several months visiting James’s homeland, they have had the yacht lifted out of the water to be made ready for the next stage of their adventure. Click on the thumbnails to see pictures by BRUCE SALT.

Watersports are on the horizon – for tourists and Saints

Jamestown’s historic seafront is set to bustle with watersports activities when well-off tourists begin flying into the island from 2016 – and Saints could join the fun. 

Yachtmaster Hedge Shuter told Saint FM listeners: “People are going to want to go out sports fishing, they’re going to want to do their trips around the island.

“They they may want to take part in sailing and motorboat sports and that sort of thing.”

And Hedge, who skippered St Helena’s crew in the last Governor’s Cup yacht race from South Africa, said he wanted local people to take up more water sports too.

“We’re looking at ways that we can encourage participation in international sports, particularly when the airport opens and transport becomes easier.” 

Adapting facilities for disabled people was another aim – “and looking at ways that we can get assistance from governing bodies internationally.

“But you can only get that sort of assistance if you have properly constituted organisations on the island.

“They’re not going to give money to people for nothing, so they have to be sure that what we’ve got in place is good and sustainable.

“The knock-on effect of that is it will provide assurance for when all these tourists arrive that whatever maritime activities we’re doing here are safe and properly regulated.

“You have to have rules and regulations. That will also assist in obtaining maritime insurance, which has been a problem here in the past.”

Airport could transform St Helena race, Billy tells yachting mag

Patches, the island-crewed entry in the Governor's Cup, makes a double-page spread in Yachting World
Patches, the island-crewed entry in the Governor’s Cup, makes a double-page spread in Yachting World

The opening of St Helena’s airport could triple the number of entries in the island’s biennial race from South Africa, according to a seven-page spread in Yachting World magazine.

Click the pic for a race gallery
Click the pic for a race gallery

Its article, headlined The Greatest Ocean Race You’ve Never Heard Of, enthuses about the attraction of sailing out to one of the world’s most remote islands, and then hitching a lift back to South Africa, yacht and all, on the RMS St Helena.

Writer James Stewart speculates that when the RMS is withdrawn from service in 2015 or 16, it could spell the end of the Governor’s Cup race after nearly 20 years of deep ocean crossings.

But race organiser Billy Liesegang says it could actually make the race fleet much bigger.

The island will still have a supply ship capable of carrying the yachts home to avoid a bumpy voyage under sail, he tells the magazine. And crews would have the possibility of a quick flight home.

Conditions were cramped aboard Reaction
Conditions were cramped aboard Reaction

“With the airport you could sail the race, be back to work on the next flight, and know your yacht is in safe hands until you collect it in Cape Town,” he says.

That would open the race up to people who cannot spend several weeks away from their jobs to take part. “We could end up with 60 yachts,” he says.

Stewart’s lengthy article brings out fresh insights and yarns from the race – like the fact that one crew, all aged over 60, thought it wise to include a defibrillator and oxygen in their first-aid kit.

And the cockpit aboard Reaction – the overall winner – was so small that it had room for only two of the four crew at any time, with others waiting below decks for their turn on duty as the yacht surfed noisily down the big waves, shredding nerves.

Without an autopilot, the helmsman had to keep a hand on the tiller at all times, so if any adjustments had to be made to the sails, “other on-watch crew were called up for trim changes by a tug on a rope tail tied to their ankles.”

Picture special: the Governor’s Cup yacht race
Governor’s Cup stories

Santa delivers to four-year-old Sean – on a yacht

Kevin Ward's yacht, Canace, was leading the Governor's Cup fleet on Christmas morning. Picture: Jan Theron
Kevin Ward’s yacht, Canace, was leading the Governor’s Cup fleet on Christmas morning. Picture: Jan Theron

Father Christmas manages to deliver presents to children even when they are at sea in a yacht race, it seems.

The youngest competitor in the 2012 Governor’s Cup race is reported to have been untroubled to spend Christmas Day on his parents’ boat.

Sean Kavanagh, who is four years old, did not let sailing get in the way of playing with his new toys.

Dad Michael reported that they included “an activity book and coloured pencils, Lego, a little light torch, and a quad bike that pulls an inflatable rubber boat, so he can fantasize about pulling and launching his own boat.”

A lack of wind meant a leisurely Christmas morning for Sean, mum Heidi,  Michael and their regular race team aboard Ray of Light.

In a radio interview, Michael told race journalist Sue Pelling: “We are now 377 miles into our voyage and are all enjoying a fabulous Christmas Day at sea.

“We are currently becalmed but the sun is shining and everybody is in good spirits. We’ve had one round of Christmas presents this morning, and yesterday we discovered a hunk of pork roast, which somehow sneaked its way on board.

“Just before we were about to eat the roast pork we caught a lovely yellow tail (tuna) so we had that for starter. All that is missing is a bit of breeze.

“There is lots of sea life, dolphins, and jumping tuna all around, so even though we are stuck in no wind, we feel it is a privilege to be out here. Basically, if you were looking for a cruising and sun-tanning holiday, this would be it.”

Yacht pulls out: The crew aboard Unwind advised Cape Town Radio yesterday of their retirement due to rudder problems, writes Sue Pelling.

They arrived at Yachtport, Saldanha Bay, on Christmas Eve, but intended to resume their voyage to St Helena once the steering problem was fixed.

After a near-perfect start and a tricky and tactical first couple of days, the 19-strong fleet was beginning to settle into life at sea off the western coast of South Africa.

According to the race tracker, Canace was leading the fleet on Christmas Day, skippered by Kevin Ward and crewed by a team of six between the ages of 52 and 70.

However, she was stuck in an area of high pressure, which could affect her position if the likes of Rob Newman’s Du Toit catamaran Compromise – one of the early race leaders  – maintained her consistent speed.

  • The race website was down on Christmas night, meaning it was not possible to publish the latest fleet positions.

Governor’s Cup yacht race gets under way

The fleet clears Cape Point. Click the pic to visit the official race positions web page (takes time to load)
The fleet clears Cape Point. Click the pic to visit the official race positions web page (takes time to load)

Twenty yachts set sail in the Governor’s Cup Yacht Race on Saturday, 22 December 2012, including two late entries.

The first days’ satellite positioning update showed the St Helena crew apparently well behind most of the fleet, but skipper Hedge Shuter had reported trouble with the yacht’s tracker device. JML Rotary Scout, which has two island scouts in its crew, was well up the field.

St Helena Online will carry news stories when possible, but readers can keep up to date via the links at the top of the right-hand column of this site.

Yachting journalist Sue Pelling has described glorious conditions for the start of the “sleigh ride” to St Helena, with thousands of people watching from vantage points ashore. Read her report here.

19 yachts line up to surf to St Helena
The Column: Yachties line up for the party of the year (second story – 29 November 2012)

Governor’s Cup Yacht Race

Governor’s Cup: 19 yachts line up to surf to St Helena

The 19 crews confirmed for December’s yacht race to St Helena will need courage and skill, according to island governor Mark Capes.

He has spoken of growing excitement on the island about the eighth Governor’s Cup Yacht Race from South Africa.

In a short speech at the False Bay Yacht Club in Simon’s Town, he promised a warm welcome for the 90 sailors and supporters expected on the island in early January 2013.

Governor Capes spoke just before being handed the cut-glass race trophy by club manager and 2010 winner Billy Leisegang.

He said: “I’m very grateful to the commodore and Billy and his team at the FBYC for their tremendous efforts to prepare for the race to St Helena and the great spirit of friendship they bring to all their dealings with their counterparts in St Helena.

“The Governor’s Cup Yacht Race is a demanding and exciting international sporting event, calling for excellent seamanship skills and not a small amount of courage to tackle over 1700 miles of often-unpredicable weather and seas, with fast downhill sailing.

“For everyone taking part in this race it will be, I’m absolutely sure, a tremendous personal experience and achievement.

“I look forward to welcoming all the teams to Jamestown in January.

“But this is much more than just a yacht race. The Governor’s Cup represents the close, warm and long-established links between St Helena and South Africa.

“St Helena remains a welcoming and safe haven for mariners sailing to or from the Cape. Today, virtually all of our trade is with, or comes through, South Africa. Many Saints have been here training or working.

“As the Governor’s Cup approaches, excitement is mounting in St Helena. There is a real buzz about the place of anticipation of the 19 teams coming to visit in early January. All participants will get a very warm welcome, and I wish everyone participating in the race kind seas and safe sailing.”

The race starts from Simon’s Town on 22 December 2012.

The Column: The yachties are coming to party (29 November 2012)

The Governor’s Cup Yacht Race

Yacht race organisers seek a home for St Helena crew

An appeal has gone out in South Africa for acommodation for St Helena’s crew in the Governor’s Cup Yacht Race in December.

Hedge Shuter and three other islanders will make up the crew for the only all-island entry in the race from Simonstown to St Helena.

Organiser Billy Leisegang, of the False Bay Yacht Club in Simonstown, says: “They are not flush with funds, so are appealing to anyone with vacant living space available close to FBYC to please come forward. They would be able to accommodate a small fee if required.

“Dianne and I have had Saints stay with us prior to three Governor’s Cups and I assure you that they are an absolute pleasure to have as guests. They settle in easily, are excellent company and WOW can they cook!

“Please contact me soonest if you have any ideas at”

In fact, the island yacht is expected to have a combined Saint and expat crew – that’s not to say the cooking will be any less good.

Twenty five yachts are lined up to form the biggest-ever fleet in the race, which has taken place every two years since 1997. Two have pulled out but another two look set to replace them.

Secure moorings for the entire fleet are expected to be in place in time for the race.

The yacht race newsletter says: “Excellent breaking news is that the island has commissioned a professional engineering design and specification for their moorings and it is anticipated that 25 moorings, more than adequate to securely berth our fleet, will be installed and commissioned well in time for our arrival.”

Record fleet enlists for island yacht race

Governor’s Cup Yacht Race 2012

It’s Christmas at sea for Governor’s Cup yachties

screen grab of Governor's Cup website, with silhouette of a Thames Barge
The Governor’s Barge?

Entry details for the 2012 Governor’s Cup yacht race have been flashed up on Facebook. The race starts on 22 December, which means many yachts will arrive in the New Year and competitors will spend Christmas at sea. It all sounds very exciting, but St Helena Online is confused by the image at the top of the race website, which shows a Thames Sailing Barge. These fine old craft were designed to carry cargo down the shallow, muddy creeks of England’s east coast, and don’t have keels. We wouldn’t want to undertake an ocean voyage in one.