Friday, January 16, 2015

The Governor, the Saint, the Cat & the Cup

The 2014 Governor's Cup Race from Simonstown, South Africa, to the South Atlantic island of St Helena, is all done and wrapped up. The results have all been sorted and the crew of the Didi 38 "Black Cat" have been presented with the magnificent glass floating trophy.
Sophie Pages, owner Adrian Pearson, Cathleen Hughes, skipper David Immelman & Shaun Cooper
The race started out in strong conditions that stayed with the fleet for much of the race, then disappeared. In battling through the extensive calms, most of the racing division boats chose to use their motors and defaulted into the cruising division, inflating the cruising fleet and decimating the racing fleet. Those who stuck to the ideals of yacht racing under wind power alone are to be congratulated for staying there to the end. In doing this, "Black Cat" and her crew won both line honours and on handicap.

For those who wonder where this place is, St Helena is the island to which Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled in 1815 after being defeated at the Battle of Waterloo. He was interred there in a tiny home until his death in 1821. The island is home to a small population of "Saints" under a governor who answers to the government in Great Britain.

The Governor's Cup Race occurs each year in the Southern summer, except for years when there is a Cape to Rio Race. It starts in late December and finishes early January, after crossing 1720 miles of open ocean. In past years boats have been able to ship back to South Africa on the RMS St Helena, a combined cargo and passenger vessel that has been the major physical connection between the island and the outside world in the past. Now the island has an airport that is nearing completion and which will soon be operational.
RMS St Helena offloading cargo.
The RMS St Helena service will be cut back considerably now and shipping of boats back to Cape Town may not be possible. It will be interesting to see what effect this has on entries for the Governor's Cup Race in the future.

This is a worthy race to enter if cruising around the world and passing through Cape Town. Also for kicking off a long distance or world cruise with South Africa as departure. From St Helena, the next stop of the trans-Atlantic leg would likely be the island of Ascension, another weeks sailing NW of St Helena, then on to Fernando de Noronha and mainland Brazil.

I have not yet visited St Helena but it is high on my bucket list.