The yacht Runaway from Peru was first to cross the line at the 2017 Cape2Rio presented by Maserati. Owned and skippered by Hector Velarde, Runaway finished early on Saturday, January 14, 13 days after setting sail from Table Bay in Cape Town.
German yacht Black Pearl was second to finish almost a full 24 hours later in the early hours of Sunday 15 January. The rest of the fleet was still at sea at the time of writing. Based on the latest positioning reports, South African entrant Lion of Africa Vulcan should be the third boat to finish.
Victor Medina, commodore of the Royal Cape Yacht Club, the hosts of the Cape2Rio, was thrilled to see the first two boats home. “This is a special event and it’s always special to see the first yachts home. Crossing the Atlantic is truly something to behold; congratulations to Runaway on a thrilling performance in their debut Cape2Rio and well done to Black Pearl for pushing them all the way.”
Runaway, along with Black Pearl and Lion of Africa Vulcan, was one of the favourites to take line honours at the Cape2Rio. Following a decisive move when confronted with a low pressure system midway through the race, Runaway was able to move clear of Black Pearl and Lion of Vulcan Africa and stay in the lead until the finish.
While Runaway has taken line honours convincingly, handicap honours will only be announced once all yachts are safely in Rio.
Runaway crew member Steve Dodd said that the 3500 nautical mile ocean crossing was a good race from start to finish, with a lot of cat and mouse and ‘follow the leader’ in the early stages.
“We all do a lot racing, and compete in various events,” said Dodd, “But this is the one true ocean crossing. To cross the Atlantic, to go from one continent to another, that’s pretty special. It’s an accomplishment to be proud of as there are not many opportunities to do something like this.”
Black Pearl’s owner and skipper Stefan Jentzsch echoed Dodd’s sentiments. “It was exhausting to be honest and maybe not exactly what we are used to, but it was interesting, exciting and challenging to be a part of this iconic event.”
The two finished crews both commented on the demanding nature of the 2017 Cape2Rio, with Black Pearl navigator Mark Lagesse calling it one of the toughest Cape2Rio races he can remember and not a ‘typical Cape2Rio’. “The first three days were brutal out of Cape Town, in the middle days we had lots of rain, and then the last three days were also tough. We also had a leak, and the faster we went the quicker the water came in from the leak, so we spent as much time bailing water out as we did sailing.”
The line honours success will be especially sweet for Runaway and her crew, who arrived in Cape Town in the best possible shape for the Cape2Rio. Prior to the event the crew sailed in the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race (1300 miles) and the Pacific-Cup Race from San Francisco to Hawaii (2000 miles). Crew member Tom Corkett said their main race ambition was to get to Rio in the best possible time – which they did with the chasing pack far back in their wake.
At the start of the race competitors had to contend with heavy winds, then it was a low pressure cells which hampered progress. “We are used to frontal systems not low pressure systems,” said Dodd, “so it required some quick thinking from the team when confronted with what we thought was a very ‘low’ low. Luckily we have sailed a lot together and work well as a team. Crossing that first low was where the game changed. I think we turned 45 degrees and that gave us an 80 mile lead. Lot of guys went south or north (like Vulcan) but we were able to punch through and that allowed us to get ahead.”
With 25 years of sailing together, and 6000 nautical miles sailed in the last 11 months alone, it seems that preparation and experience was the answer for a Runaway victory.
“Congratulations to Runaway on their line honours success,” said Brad Graaff, Operations Manager for European Automotive Imports – South Africa (EAI-SA), the importer of Maserati to South Africa. “We are proud of your performance and to be the presenting partner to Cape2Rio. We hope you enjoy this special moment of success.”