by Richard Crockett
The Lipton Cup trustees have sent a letter to a broad spectrum of people spelling out some choices available in terms of the future boat for this event.
Read the Letter HERE: 170810 Class of Boat 2018
To me this is the single most important document the Lipton Trustees have sent out in many years. Plus, it could signal a new beginning for the event if change is embraced. Simply, a same-old-same-old approach has added little stature to the Lipton Cup for several years now.
The Lipton Cup event is in dire need of a re-design as it has outgrown the L26 as a class and needs new impetus, a new class of boat and elevation back to being the most prestigious event on the South African yacht racing calender.
Also its status as the only National Interclub Challenge has also been tarnished as the event has become more of a youth development event rather than the VERY best sailors in the country competing for the most prestigious trophy sailing has to offer in South Africa.
I am not against youth development, and rather feel that there is a time and place for that in many other events than the Lipton Cup.
I personally have always batted for the L26 as the Lipton Boat, and had many heated debates with many people who have said we need this boat, we need that boat, or another. The reason why is very simple – we have NEVER had another one design class that comes close enough to fulfilling the requirements of being the Lipton Cup appointed Class.
I know that there are many one design classes in the world which could work as the Lipton boat. But, we do not have any in this country, nor have we had anyone who has championed a new Lipton Cup class and put his money where his mouth is to develop a class. All there has been is idle chatter and very little action.
We now have a brand new boat that is designed to up-to-date world standards, tooled by some of the very best people in the business, and now being expertly built in our country. What we have is the most modern one-design on our doorstep and in our country.
The Cape 31 is the brainchild of Lord Irvine Laidlaw who felt that the sport in this country would benefit by having a class boat of this calibre. How right he is!
What he has NOT done is have a boat designed for the Lipton Cup. The evolution of the boat and its quick acceptance by many of our country’s top sailors, has made it a natural choice.
It is important that the distinction is clear – that being, the boat was not designed as the new Lipton Cup boat.
The same is true of the L26 when it was first launched. It was the brainchild of Dave Cox and John Gordon-Thompson, in collaboration with Angelo Lavranos as the designer. Once launched, numbers quickly grew, as did the calibre of the people sailing it. This made it a natural fit for the Lipton Cup as the Quarter Tonners being used at the time were not really ideal for the Lipton Cup. So in 1984 the L26 was used for the first time – and has gone on to be the boat for the last 33 years.
An interesting and worthwhile innovation is that should the majority of clubs vote in favour of changing to the Cape 31, the format of the Lipton Challenge will be changed to include a “Lipton Week” regatta for youth teams (provisionally under 25), in the L26 Class, and held concurrently with the Challenge.
I would like to urge all those who have the power to change the Lipton Cup class to seriously look positively at a change of Class, and to look to the future of our sport – and push for the Cape 31 for the future.