Monday, August 25, 2014

South Africa Tops International YC Challenge

J/24s sailing off New York waterfront (New York, NY)- Last weekend, nineteen teams of amateur sailors from 14 nations sailed in the Sixth Dennis Conner International Yacht Club Challenge in absolutely gorgeous sailing conditions on the Hudson River, right next to the famous Statue of Liberty. The races took place in Manhattan YC’s bright red J/24s; races were started off their famous floating clubhouse, the Sparkman & Stephens designed “Honorable William Wall”, anchored in New York Harbor just north of Ellis Island.

Winning the regatta with considerable ease was the Royal Cape Yacht Club from Capetown, South Africa.  How did the South African team do it? By sailing fast and smart and avoiding any un-necessary mistakes.  This dark horse was a well-practiced team, all used to sailing big waves and even bigger winds off the tip of Capetown; a place renowned for nasty gales, chilly winds, and “jumping great white sharks” feeding on innocent little seals off the infamous Shark Island (often seen getting “big air” right in the middle of some of their race courses)!  Needless to say, not much was going to intimidate this team of one-design and offshore sailors.

J/24 South African sailing teamThe South Africans arrived to the regatta without fanfare and at the Opening Ceremony, described themselves as the “most humble” team at the regatta. They told the story about how they scraped together funds for their 36 hour flight to New York City by soliciting donations. They were surprised by the many generous sources that collectively made their participation possible. Despite their challenges, they easily led the regatta after sailing three races on the first day- posting a 5-2-1.  Not a bad score considering none of them had ever sailed on the Hudson River before!  Over the next two days, they never slowed down, adding a 7-2-2-1-2 to close the regatta with 15 pts net and win by a stellar margin of 5 pts.

Starting out in second after the first day were the Royal Danish Yacht Club team from Denmark.  They managed to post very consistent scores of 4-4-2-2-3-4-8-1 for 20 pts net to secure a firm grasp on the silver overall.

J/24s sailing on Hudson River, New YorkThird place and the balance of the top five saw just about every team experience some amazingly bad races; as the Aussies often say, “we sent it down the mine shaft!”  After day one, the Manhattan YC #2 team was third with a 1-9-3, but then disappeared into the abyss on day two with an epochal record of 17-13-8 to take themselves out of contention (hmmm, rumor had it they were showing some of their newfound foreign friends a good time Friday night in downtown Manhattan until twilight?).

Howth YC from Howth, Ireland, a hotbed of J/24 activity in that island nation and recent host of the J/24 Worlds, also started out strong with a 2-6-7-5, temporarily holding onto third place after four races.  Then, they bombed two races, gathering a 17-3-18-3 to drop themselves into fifth overall.

Third was taken by the Swiss team from Lake Geneva, sailing for the Cercle de la Voile de la Societe Nautique de Geneve.  They started out with an astonishingly humble record of 9-1-12-10, but then closed with a flourish, posting a 4-1-3-10 for a total of 38 pts net.  They narrowly beat out another team of dinghy and one-design sailors from Bermuda’s Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club.  The Bermuda team also had a slow start, amassing a disappointing 3-16-8-12 in the first four races to firmly secure a mid-fleet position.  Nevertheless, like their Swiss counterparts, they pulled themselves up by their collective bootstraps and reeled off a 1-6-4-5 in the last four races for 39 pts net, just missing the podium by one point!   For more sailing photos- DC IYC Facebook page & credits- Scot Surbeck  For more Dennis Conner International Yacht Club Challenge sailing information