Heineken Cape Town to Rio - back to celebrate turning forty

by Louay Habib

The Heineken Cape to Rio Yacht Race is a direct route, 3,320 Nm usually downwind between Cape Town, South Africa and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The race is one South Africa's iconic sporting challenges, the next edition of the Royal Cape Yacht Club's premier South Atlantic race will take place in January 2011.

An international fleet is expected to be racing under the IRC rule for monohulls and the MOCRA rule for multihulls. 25 boats are expected to take part in this prestigious race, which was last raced from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro 11 years ago.

The first Cape to Rio race was in 1971 and line-honours went to the 71-foot ketch, Ocean Spirit, skippered by Robin Knox-Johnston. It was his first major offshore race since becoming the first (and still the only) Briton to win a solo non-stop round the world race, the Golden Globe in 1968. Amongst Knox-Johnston's crew, forty years ago, was a young New Zealander, by the name of Peter Blake.

During the first part of the race competitors can expect rougher conditions due to the influence of the Southern Ocean, with a small chance of gale force winds and potential for waves of over four metres. The South Atlantic is dominated by a large zone of high-pressure air, which produces a counter-clockwise circulation in a NW direction along the east edge of the zone. Mid-Atlantic, the island of St.Helena roughly marks the half way point in the race but also the northern edge of the high pressure zone and competitors can expect can expect easterly winds around the point. The key to a fast passage is riding the edge of the high-pressure zone, which commonly produces a wind speed of 20-25 knots and waves to surf down. Pick the correct route and the race should be a downwind sleigh ride with the air temperature gradually warming and sea state reducing, as the boats approach Brazil. But towards the finish, land effects can cause massive changes in the wind, which can make for a nail-biting finish.

The South African Navy will be sending the SAS Drakensberg as the Guardship to accompany the fleet and will also carry two 20ft containers for the competitors' benefit. An Xtra-Link tracking system will ensure frequent position reporting providing race followers with graphic visuals and details of the race, as it unfolds.


Left to right - Franco Maria Maggi (National Brand Manager, Heineken) Consul General of Brazil, Mr. Joachim A. Whitaker Salles, Commodore of RCYC and Chairman of the Race, John Martin with Chris Haber (Worldsport), Mr. Pedro de Castro da Cunha e Menezes (Deputy Consul General of Brazil) and Derek Shuttleworth aboard Me2Me - the first South African entry in the forthcoming Heineken Cape to Rio 2011 Yacht Race.

On the Saturday before the Race start, Heineken will host an afternoon "Blue Peter" party in Cape Town and on the Friday the 14th of January, a Cocktail Party will be hosted on board SAS Drakensberg.

On arrival in Rio, each yacht will receive a traditional Rio welcome including, food and drinks and a South African party is planned onboard SAS Drakensberg on the 9th February. The Mayor of Rio de Janeiro will host the special prize-giving event in the historic and beautiful palace, to welcome all of the competitors and supporters.

The 2011 Heineken Cape to Rio Race will see the introduction of a special class for racing multi-hulls in recognition of their increasing presence in ocean racing. The IRC Mono-hull class will start on the 15th of January 2011 along with the cruising mono-hulls and cruising multi-hulls, with the racing multi-hulls starting on the 22nd of January. The festivities will culminate with the grand Prize-Giving and the awarding of the much sought-after South Atlantic Trophy, just prior to Rio Carnival, which commences on the 3rd March.

For more details: http://www.rcyc.co.za

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Header images by:

John Crawley (CAN IRC)  
Jinno (c/o JPN IRC)
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