Two freak incidents

Thwart plans for Cape Rio boats

Tuesday December 24th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
The dreams of two international entries, who were due to compete in the SAP Cape to Rio yacht race, are hanging in the balance after what can only be described as freak accidents. The German entry Bank von Bremen snapped her mast a couple of hours after leaving Brazil for her crossing to Cape Town, while Australian entry Helsal II was damaged when she slipped off a crane in Table Bay.

Dr Jochen Orgelmann, who would have skippered Bank von Bremen on the Cape to Rio leg of sailing club Wappen von Bremen's Atlantic Circuit. The club, which was established in 1934, has built a longstanding sailing tradition and offers young sailors the opportunity to experience the oceans of the world. It is estimated that the men from Wappen von Bremen as the club is known, have accumulated over 750 000 nautical miles on board the yacht.

The yacht underwent extensive refitting to be in a prime condition before embarking on her Atlantic trip in September this year. This voyage would have taken ten months during which the crew of ten would have visited 30 ports in 18 different countries on four continents over fourteen stages. The next stage of their journey would have the Cape to Rio race, but the mast could not be prepared in time to sail her across to South Africa for the race starts on 4 and 11 January respectively.

The Melbourne pocket-maxi Helsal II has been enjoying some exciting racing abroad as part of the owner/skipper Bill Rawson’s four-year overseas campaign. Rawson purchased the yacht in 1999 and was chasing his dream of competing in the twenty greatest yacht races in the world, of which the SAP Cape to Rio would have formed the next challenge.

The boat itself has an impressive history since its launch in December 1979. Her CV includes fifteen Sydney to Hobart races with one second place finish and three third positions as well as four line honours victories in the Sydney to Mooloolaba race and six line honours finishes in the Adelaide to Port Lincoln race. She also holds the race record in the 2001 Brisbane to Solomon Islands race and line honours in the Darwin to Bali race.

Rawson is currently involved in a race of a different kind after his yacht slipped off the crane and broke its mast in two places. Assessors are establishing the extent of damage to the boat before attempts will be made to repair the mast. “Obviously we are extremely disappointed, but it was a freak accident and the local sailing community has been tremendous in trying to assist us. If the insurance company give the go-ahead for the repairs, everyone will be working full-out to try and get us to the starting line on 11 January,” comments Rawson.

According to Warren Fraser of Associated Rigging, they are confident of being able to repair the mast in time to have Helsal II back in the water by the first week of January. “We will work around the clock to ensure that Bill and his crew are able to be on the starting line for this amazing race. We are now waiting for the yacht to be lifted out of the water to ascertain if there has been any structural damage to her hull,” says Fraser.

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