Racing in Durban

Natalie Webster reports on the first day of racing at the Lipton Challenge Cup

Sunday July 6th 2003, Author: Natalie Webster, Location: Australasia
The first day of the Lipton Challenge Cup was sailed offshore in ideal Durban conditions today.

Mark Sadler and Rick Nankin sailing Daly’s Insurance for the Theewaters Sports Club got off to the best possible start to win the first race of the 2003 Lipton Challenge Cup.

Dave Hudson’s Greenlight, sailing for the Royal Cape Yacht Club who had held second position for the entire race, and defending champions Ian Ainslie’s MSC Donna Mia sailing for the Zeekoe Vlei Yacht Club engaged in a titanic duel for second place (pictured).

With no more than a hundred meters to go to the finish, Greenlight and MSC Donna Mia exchanged tacks furiously as each jockeyed for position. A container ship entering the harbour added to the confusion, nearly crossing right through the finish line as Greenlight edged forward to finish in second place half a boat length ahead of MSC Donna Mia.

Following the traditional sail past in Durban’s Harbour mouth, the fleet were greeted by a calm sea with hardly any wind. As forecast, it filled in quickly from the northeast allowing the race officer to start the race slightly behind the scheduled 12h00.

Rounding the first mark of the course Daly’s held a small lead over Dave Hudson’s Greenlight, followed by Sieraj Jacobs on Bound For Gold, sailing for the Port Owen Yacht Club.

Defending champion Ian Ainslie’s MSC Donna Mia had a fairly good first leg of the race but then found himself embroiled in a nightmare at the weather mark. Trying hard to sneak around the mark in fourth, Ainslie cut things a little too fine and ended up hitting the mark as he passed it. This is strictly forbidden in the Racing Rules of Sailing and in order to exonerate himself Ainslie completed a 360 degree penalty turn. With his penalty turn done the MSC Donna Mia crew were eventually able to get the spinnaker up and resume racing in around 10th place in the fleet.

It wasn’t long before the Zeekoe Vlei team hit more trouble though when halfway down the second leg of the course they lost the spinnaker rope. This caused the sail to blow away from the boat, out of control, as more of the fleet sailed on by. By now Ainslie was down to around 15th place. Down they may have been, but the defending champions were certainly not out! With three quarters of the race left to sail the MSC Donna Mia crew got stuck in and started working their way back. This they did with remarkable success easing themselves into third position by the finish, no mean feat in such a high quality fleet.

While Daly’s Insurance and Greenlight enjoyed fairly trouble free race out in the front of the fleet the bunch from fourth to tenth enjoyed some very close racing. In this group were several well polished teams including Paul Lagesse’s Dynamic ID Systems, Craig Millar and Alec Lanham-Love’s Lipton Yellow Label, George Amoils and Martin Lamprecht on Orion Challenger, Ewald Sternagel on Rote Hexe and Rob Wilcox on La Digue as well as Sieraj Jacobs on Bound For Gold. There was very little in it between these boats with places swapping regularly and some hectic mark rounding during the race.

Both Rote Hexe and La Digue are Gauteng entries, La Digue from the Victoria Lake Club and Rote Hex from the Transvaal Yacht Club. While their skippers are both experienced in the conditions offshore Durban their top ten finishes will be particularly satisfying to both, as neither had the benefit of practicing in these conditions.

Top five positions
1 Daly’s Insurance Mark Sadler/Rick Nankin Theewaters Sports Club
2 Greenlight Dave Hudson Royal Cape Yacht Club
3 MSC Donna Mia Ian Ainslie Zeekoe Vlei Yacht Club
4 Dynamic Id Systems Paul Lagesse Hottentots Holland Beach Sailing Club
5 Orion Challenger George Amoils/Martin Lamprecht Royal Natal Yacht Club

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