by Louay Habib

Organised by the Royal Cape Yacht Club

Start: January 4th 2014
Course: Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro - 3300nm
ISAF Offshore regulations Category 1
IRC, IRC Double-Handed and Multihull Fleets.

The Cape to Rio Race sponsored by Xtra-Link and organised by the Royal Cape Yacht Club is one of the world's oldest, longest and toughest ocean races.

36 yachts will cast off from Cape Town on January 4th with crew from all over the world. A variety of yachts will be flying the flags of eight different countries; Angola, Australia, Croatia, Germany, Great Britain, India, Italy and South Africa.

The rhum line is 3300 miles across the Southern Atlantic. This vast expanse of desolate ocean is notorious for high winds and big seas and tactically there are many strategic decisions right from the start. Leaving Table Bay, the shallow waters of the African continental shelf and the wind shadow from Table Mountain can create a mogul field of confused Atlantic swell. About 200 miles into the race, the fleet must negotiate the South Atlantic High. Deep into the South Atlantic, mountainous seas can rear up propelled by ocean currents, and storm force winds are a common.

The finish in Rio de Janeiro can be tense - land effects can cause sudden changes in the wind and waves. A shifty, light breeze with a confused sea state is a likely scenario to conclude a long and arduous race. With many of the yachts spending over two weeks at sea, the Cape to Rio Race is a true test of seamanship, perseverance and determination.

Giovanni Soldini's Italian Volvo 70, Maserati is the hot favourite for Line Honours. Soldini has taken part in over 40 Transoceanic races and has won solo round the world and transatlantic races.

"I have been dreaming of participating in this historic race since I was a child." confessed Giovanni Soldini. "The crew is ready and very competitive."
Whilst Maserati may be the first yacht to finish the course, the Cape to Rio Race uses the IRC rating system to calculate the overall monohull winner and the winner of three separate IRC classes. Robert Date's Australian Reichel Pugh 52, Scarlet Runner is one of the favourites for the overall win. The Australian crew sailed the yacht to Cape Town from Sydney, and after the race will sail the yacht up to the Caribbean to take part in the RORC Caribbean 600 and several other regattas in that area.

RORC member Sonke Bruhns will be racing Iskareen. Bruhns' German Archambault M34 competed in this year's Tour de Voile and was shipped from Hamburg especially for the race.

"Iskareen will be flying the RORC backstay flag from the start and although we won't be the first yacht to finish, Iskareen has been optimised for IRC and we hope to do well in the overall standings." commented Sonke. "With a crew from Germany, Switzerland, Canada and South Africa there has been much discussion about the language we will use on board. Also, as we have limited space below deck, each crew member has to stick to a carry-on weight and its going to be freeze-dried food all the way, supplemented with some South African biltong. We have satellite communications on board and hope to be sending back messages and images during the race."


Royal Cape Yacht Club Commodore, Dale Kushner will be racing Yolo in the IRC Double-Handed Class. Photo: Marc Bloch

The Cape to Rio Race is the flagship race of the Royal Cape Yacht Club and 27 yachts from South Africa will be taking part. RCYC Commodore, Dale Kushner's Sunfast 32, Yolo (You Only Live Once) will be one of the smallest yachts in the race, and the Commodore will be racing double-handed with his long time crew member Ian Coward. The duo has competed in almost every Offshore event in South Africa together.

"It is anyone's race," commented Dale. "Conditions, good decisions and a bit of luck will the overriding factors. As always we are being very particular in boat preparation, ensuring that everything is prepped properly in order to minimise any potential gear failure.

He supports the use of the IRC rating system for the race: "IRC has proved itself to produce a fair reflection of the performance of the yachts in this race. It has also been very simple and easy to implement, especially considering that 70% of the boats did not have IRC certificates prior to the start. In South Africa, Endorsed certificates are required but with local IRC measurers and a simple process all of the yachts have been correctly measured with the minimum amount of fuss."

All of the competing yachts will be fitted with hi-tech DMR 800D trackers and several yachts have satellite phones and broadband data connectivity provided by Cape to Rio sponsors Xtra-Link.

To follow the race visit: