“Talking Sailing”. Regardless Take Line Honours in 2023 Vasco Da Gama Race

Regardless after the start off Durban.

by Richard Crockett

Had it not been for the wonderful YB Trackers, which in my view are an absolute necessity in this race, few, other than an inner sanctum of key people would have known that the race was on. It’s sad as this is the longest running coastal ocean race in the country having started in the early 1970s and which now boasts an impressive tally of 52 races started.

Just 10 boats were on the start line, soon reduced to 9 when the L34 ‘Spirit of Anna Wardley’, with a young crew from Sail Africa, retired with steering problems.

Preparation is key in this race as it can be tough and relentless, but being so far from the action it’s difficult to pinpoint which boats were the best prepared. I do know that Neville Bransby and Sean Jones leave little to chance in their thorough preparation of ‘Regardless’. Plus Jones, as navigator, had a plan and rough course up his sleeve after lengthy perusals of the synoptics.

To say at this juncture that the rest is history is premature, but ‘Regardless’ shot off downwind from the start line and led the fleet to the Fairway Marker off Durban’s beachfront, and showed the fleet a clean transom from there to the finish. From the Fairway Marker it was upwind until late afternoon when the wind began clocking to the east and spinnakers were deployed. They were challenged by ‘Bellatrix’, ‘CFM’ and even ‘Adios’ until nightfall when ‘Regardless’ literally turned on the afterburners and took close to 30nm out of the fleet. That was a masterclass of night time sailing at its best!

In my view they came inshore far too early at Cape Morgan after a great night at sea, and found little wind, whereas the guys further out had wind, but a big gap to fill before being able to issue a challenge to their supremacy to that point. Fortunately they did not languish too long in those light conditions and held their lead unchallenged all the way to the finish in light and variable winds.

The winning Regardless crew at the finish.

She was followed some hours later by ‘ÇFM’ and ‘Bellatrix’ who were about an hour apart.

As always in this race the fast southerly flowing Agulhas Current played its role giving, at times, a 4 knot advantage. That’s free miles and a big bonus if you get it right.

Looking at the YB Tracker right now, I am concerned that ‘Moonshine’ and possibly ‘Shiloh’ may be swept past the Finish Line in the mouth of East London’s harbour. ‘Moonshine’ is some 50nm out and ‘Shiloh’ some 30nm out.

With the clock still ticking as the cut-off is at 16h00 today, ‘Regardless’ has, at this point, “the double” of line and handicap honours in her pocket, unless of course one of those still left on the course can produce some magic between now and the finish.



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