Cape to Rio 2020. Phew, That Was Tense

by Richard Crockett

The last 24 hours have been pretty tense as the fleet soaked up what nature had dished out – wind, and lots of it.

I doff my cap to the Race Committee who had the courage to change the number of updates the YB Trackers showed, from every 4 hours to every hour. By using the very best technology available, and YB Tracking who are simply the best and most highly professional in this business, this was possible with little drama, and certainly helped many an anxious family keep track of their loved ones. It’s just a pity that this change of schedule was not broadcast load and clear!

And likewise I doff my cap to each and every crew out there as it does appear that all boats have come through pretty much unscathed, and maybe with just a few minor breakages. Certainly there have been no reports of major damage so far, which is a good sign. Exiting any storm on a small sailing vessel is a life-changing experience, and one which will be remembered and talked about for life, especially this one which showed signs of ferociousness.

I was glued to the tracker for these hourly updates, and certainly had my concerns when I saw the ‘JM Busha 54′ boat sailing way off course and down to just a few knots. Had they broken something? Did they have damage? Were the crew all okay? Those were my immediate thoughts, but as each hour passed they, and the rest of the fleet slowly regrouped, lifted up their skirts and were back in full racing mode.

How wonderful that was to see.

Now looking at the 10h00 YB Tracker update, it is clear that ‘Zulu Girl’ may have a problem as her boat speed is down to less than 1 knot, and her course is taking her away from the finish. Let’s hope that this is a temporary aberration.

The storm of the last few days has pushed the arrival times of the boats out by as much as 24 hours, which is of no real consequence unless anyone out there is low on essential supplies! The ETAs are showing a late night finish for the next arrivals at the finish tomorrow (Monday 27th), although that is likely to be pushed out in real terms to the 28th. Leading that charge is ‘Haspa Hamburg’, followed by ‘JM Busha 54′ and ‘Mussulo’.

While the line honours position gets the landlubbers excited, the wise old salts know that it’s the handicap honours that really count, as this is where the real winners come from. Leading the monohulls right now and wearing the leader’s crown is ‘Saravah’, substantially more north than the rest of her rivals, being ‘Mussulo’, ‘Zulu Girl’ and ‘Haspa Hamburg’ – with the podium places being wide open as just 17 hours on corrected time separates 1st and 4th.

I have not mentioned the two boats being sailed double-handed for some days now, but now that the charge is on for the finish line, ‘Mussulo’ and ‘Ballyhoo Too’ are separated by 28 hours on corrected time, with the latter putting in a really good showing for an older boat against a very modern rival. Plus they are fighting for top positions against boats with crew double or triple theirs!

From now to the finish is critical as the winds always get lighter when closing the Brazilian coast off Rio. The long range forecast shows that ‘Saravah’ up north may well hit a windless hole later today, while her more southern rivals may well dodge too much of the light stuff, and be propelled all the way to the finish line with no break in the wind.

As I have always said, ocean racing for the landlubbers back home following every move on a tracker, it’s simply a case of time will tell!

Whatever happens, the finish should be close and thrilling as the race is far from over.