“Talking Sailing” From My Archives. Rio Race Countdown

by Richard Crockett

We are in the throes of leaving 2020 behind us, thank goodness. Let’s hope that 2021 will be a magical year for everyone – so keep being masked-up, practising social distancing, and staying safe.

I have said on many occasions in the past that the 1971 Cape to Rio Race put out sport squarely on the world sailing map, while also opening the eyes of landlubbers across the country who had a yearning to cross an ocean under their own steam. New boats were built, some taking far longer than anticipated, resulting in a record fleet of well over 100 boats in the third race to Rio in 1976.

As we count down to 16 January 2021 – which is just over two weeks away – and the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Cape to Rio Race, I plan to share with you as much as I can from my archives on that race. Some may relive that race from this coverage, while hopefully others will be inspired and want to follow in the steps of those who have crossed the South Atlantic to Rio, Uruguay and Salvador under sail.

An immediate adventure though is to race to Rio in a “Virtual Race” which starts on 2 January – and which allows one to race hundreds of identical boats from the comfort of your computer desk. Register HERE: www.cape2riorace.com

It is appropriate to share the words of Col. Stan Jeffrey, Chairman at the time of the Cruising Association of South Africa (CASA), who said this on the eve of the race in a newspaper under the heading “THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING …”:

The Race from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro marks a new era for South Africa’s amateur deep-sea sailors – their entry into organised international ocean racing. But there will be no resting on our laurels after our fleet of yachts wins through to South America.

“Plans are already afoot to challenge for the Admiral’s Cup in Britain next year with a team of three boats competing together in four selected races. This is, in the eyes of world yachtsmen, the most prestigious trophy in next year’s ocean-racing calendar with teams from Britain, the United States, Australia, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Italy and France. Australia startled the seafaring world by winning this tremendously demanding series at her second attempt. We feel that even if we do not win, we can sail with great credit to South Africa, which is the real test.

“More than 30 South African yachts will sail to Rio and we know that 1971 will set a pattern, and more and more of the many people with the means to do so in South Africa will want to share in the adventure of this wonderful game.”

Another newspaper editorial comment the day before the 1971 race started, under the heading “ADMIRAL’S IDEA IS LAUNCHED”, said this:

“In the wake of Bruce Dalling’s success in the 1968 single-handed transatlantic, the concept of a South Atlantic race, linking two historic sailing ports, was born.
“What you will see off Granger Bay tomorrow is a culmination of over two years·planning – a striking collection of ocean racers, many of them in world class, all of them itching to get to Rio de Janeiro in the shortest possible time.

“Organisers of this first Cape to Rio would have been happy to see a fleet of 40 yachts out there.

“More than 60 will be on the start line, however.

“First reported suggestion that the race should take place came from Vice Admiral H. H. Biermann, Chief of the Navy.

“Backed up by the financial and public-relations resources of the South African Ocean Racing Trust, the Cruising Association of South Africa (C.A.S.A.) undertook to get down to details.

Word of the pending race, which could establish itself as a classic in world yachting, was spread far and wide.

“From the enquiries which poured in to the Cape Town race headquarters it soon became apparent that the race to Rio would truly be international. When entries closed on November 30, 15 countries were represented.”

In the 16 South Atlantic Races so far, 11 of them to Rio, the interest and excitement they command has been infectious, with the next one planned for January 2023.

In closing 2020, here are some selected press cuttings of interest from December 1970. Hopefully these will excite you, and give you an insight into the preparations for an ocean race, as from tomorrow I plan to bring you daily news on the race from 50 years ago as I have well over 800 newspaper cuttings in my archives on that 1971 race alone.

Enjoy, comment and please SHARE with your mates and anyone who may have an interest.

“Shore Aid is Forbidden”.
READ MORE HERE:  1970 12 01 – Rio 1971 – Don Pfotenhauer Collection – 796 – OCR

“Rio Race Will Not Be Easy, Says Dalling”.
READ MORE HERE:  1970 12 02 – Rio 1971 – Don Pfotenhauer Collection – 800 – OCR_Redacted

“Sandefjord’s Race Crew Will Be Family Affair”.
READ MORE HERE:  1970 12 03 – Rio 1971 – Frans Loots Collection – stitched final – OCR_Redacted

“Sea Trials for Cariad”.
READ MORE HERE:  1970 12 03- Rio 1971 – Don Pfotenhauer Collection – stitched final – cariad – OCR

“Armchair Sailing Made Easy”.
READ MORE HERE:  1970 12 04 – Rio 1971 – Don Pfotenhauer Collection – 810 – OCR

“Mercury Speeds to Rescue of Yacht in Distress”.
READ MORE HERE:  1970 12 07 – Rio 1971 – Don Pfotenhauer Collection – 808 – OCR_Redacted

“List of Entries”.
READ MORE HERE:  1970 12 10 – Rio 1971 – Don Pfotenhauer Collection – 804 – OCR_Redacted

“Mercury Busy on Deep-sea Trials”
READ MORE HERE:  1970 12 15 – Rio 1971 – Don Pfotenhauer Collection – 843 – OCR_Redacted

“Most Beautiful Yachts in World Are in the Docks”.
READ MORE HERE:  1970 12 15 – Rio 1971 – Frans Loots Collection – stitched final – OCR_Redacted

“I’ll Finish Says Tabarly”.
READ MORE HERE:  1970 12 18 – Rio 1971 – Don Pfotenhauer Collection – 000572

“Rio Trio Did it the Hard Way”.
READ MORE HERE:  1970 12 18 – Rio 1971 – Frans Loots Collection – 315 – OCR_Redacted

“Full speed ahead at race HQ”.
READ MORE HERE:  1970 12 22 – Rio 1971 – Don Pfotenhauer Collection – 000575 – stitched

“Freak Wave Damages Rio Yacht Race Entry”.
READ MORE HERE:  1970 12 22 – Rio 1971 – Don Pfotenhauer Collection – 837 – OCR

“Crew Get Set for the Long Haul”.
READ MORE HERE:  1970 12 23 – Rio 1971 – Don Pfotenhauer Collection – 830 – OCR_Redacted

“Storms Hit Another Yacht”.
READ MORE HERE:  1970 12 23 – Rio 1971 – Don Pfotenhauer Collection – 833 – OCR_Redacted

“The Idler’s Column. What A Lovely Lot of Landlubbers!”.
READ MORE HERE:  1970 12 24 – Rio 1971 – Don Pfotenhauer Collection – 828 – OCR_Redacted

“No Time to Idle As the Little ‘Hardships’ Sets Sail for Rio”.
READ MORE HERE:  1970 12 24 – Rio 1971 – Don Pfotenhauer Collection – 829 – OCR

“Rio Race Yacht Badly Damaged in High Seas”.
READ MORE HERE:  1970 12 27 – Rio 1971 – Don Pfotenhauer Collection – 000573 – stitched