Friday, January 9, 2015

"Black Cat" wins Governor's Cup Race

Yesterday "Black Cat", the Didi 38 prototype that I built in my back garden in 1994/95, finished the 1720 mile Governor's Cup Race from South Africa to St Helena. At the time we had not yet seen any photos of her finish. Now some nice photos, taken by Trevor Wilkins Photography, have been posted on the Governor's Cup Facebook page. Here is one of them, see the others on the Governor's Cup pages.
"Black Cat" finishing the Governor's Cup Race. Photo courtesy of What The Saints Did Next.
When I wrote my piece yesterday I was still seeing the breaking news about "Black Cat" being the true line-honours winner instead of "Avanti", which finished ahead of her. I was concerned that there may have been a measure of speculation in the reports and that they may prove untrue. Now we know that the reports were correct and "Black Cat" is the true line-honours winner in the racing division and likely handicap winner as well. We won't know for a few days yet if "Iechyd Da" can catch her on handicap.

Don't let the small size of the racing fleet at the finish detract from the achievement of Dave Immelman and crew. All boats in the original racing fleet were well behind them and most jumped ship when the breeze went light and their sailing progress became too slow, deciding to change to the cruising class and motor through the calm patches. The NOR, as amended, did allow the racing class boats to do this but they had to notify Race Control of having motored at the "earliest opportunity" as well as in their declaration at the finish.

"Black Cat" was committed to racing and that is what they did, battling through the calms. It must have been soul-destroying to see another competitor in their class sail around them, apparently in stronger breeze, then continue to take line-honours in monohulls and racing class. Declaring hours after finishing that they had in fact motored and then being allowed at that late stage to drop down to cruising class is just wrong on all levels.

Did they in fact advise race control in the next daily position report after motoring and race control forgot to move them into the cruising class? This would seem odd because they would have seen themselves still in the racing class in the daily results and should have again told Race Control of the change that they had made. If they didn't tell race control then the act of motoring was an immediate DSQ from the racing class. If they didn't transfer correctly into the cruising class in the way permitted by the amended NOR then they should not be allowed to do so after finishing the race either. My opinion is that they are DSQ in the racing fleet and did not join the cruising fleet because they did not act according to the amended NOR. It follows that they didn't complete the race even though they completed the course.

Their continued listing as apparent leader of the racing fleet added interest to the race but skewed the daily results of both monohull fleets. It also had considerable effect on the moral of other competitors. I believe in absolute fairness and sportsmanship in yacht racing and all other sports but there appears to be something lacking in that regard with this situation.

I will watch with interest to see the final results.