RNYC Are Back-to-Back Lipton Cup Winners

The winning Royal Natal Yacht Club team lifted the Lipton Cup in triumph for the second consecutive year.
pic by Matt du Toit

Winning the Lipton Cup is never easy, but winning it twice in consecutive years certainly places skipper Davey James firmly in the category of a “Lipton Legend”.

Sailing for the Royal Natal Yacht Club aboard their internationally acclaimed Cape 31 design yacht, Davey James and his crew simply appeared to be the fastest on the water in almost every race, and he converted that speed into four consecutive wins after a shaky start on the first day. In the Lipton Challenge Cup contest consistency is what wins The Cup, and James showed that unequivocally. Being second by a mere two seconds in the penultimate race, and winning the final race was further proof of their superiority. Sadly for them they took a scoring penalty in the final race to forfeit their win after they were protested for allegedly touching a mark-rounding buoy.

Apart from the opening day when they were not in the mix, that scoring penalty was their only blemish in eight finely contested races in which no quarter was ever given.

Runners-up were the Walvis Bay Yacht Club under skipper Bjorn Geiger. In the 2019 contest they showed glimpses of brilliance which they could never convert to race-winning positions. Last year they missed the contest, and came back firing this year, being a serious threat in every single race. They only managed to win one race, but had a string of five second places to their credit. Should they continue with their upward trajectory the Lipton Cup may well be contested off Walvis Bay one day!

Filling the final podium place was the Aeolians Club represented by Philip Baum. His team have a reputation for leaving their best to last as they won the final race in the last two contests, and while hoping to make that three in a row, they won the penultimate race, putting paid to winning that personal goal. Baum had the oldest competitor aboard as his tactician, plus the youngest crew all of whom were under the age of 30.

For many previous contests the racing has been on one-design yachts, but this year saw the beginning of a two-year trial using the international ORC handicapping system to enable a diverse range of yachts to compete equally.

The jury is still out as to whether this worked as well as expected, but once results are analysed and a full debrief conducted, that remains conjecture.

The handicapping did bring with it challenges as Rick Nankin, the tactician aboard RCYC Jackal, said that by almost sailing against themselves, he personally believes that these were the most perfect races he had ever sailed in his long Lipton Cup career. “Each race we sailed was absolutely perfect in every respect of tactics, sail trim, manoeuvres and every single aspect that goes into a race. We had one blemish in eight races and left nothing on the race course”.

The same may be said for the False Bay Yacht Club team led by Allan Lawrence. They too put in an almighty effort, and also had some “perfect” races, but a few mistakes at times cost them and kept them out of the mix.

This year’s event may not go down in the annuls of history as the best contest ever, but what made history was the closeness of the racing especially amongst the top three. There were position changes galore, sublime tactical racing, and boat handling out of the very top drawer.

That’s what the Lipton Challenge Cup contests are all about!

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