In less than twenty four hours St Helena will welcome the first yacht over the finish line for the 2018 Cape to St Helena yacht race.
This race was the original idea and vision of Captain Dave Roberts a former Captain of the RMS St Helena, with the help of former Governor David Smallman and the Royal Cape yacht club in Cape Town South Africa.
The first Cape to St Helena race that was formally known as the Governor’s cup race began life in December 1996.
The first yacht scheduled to be over the finish line in this years race is the trimaran, Banjo.
Banjo is skippered by Kevin Webb and has completed this race to St Helena three times. Banjo took the bellows line honours trophy in 2012 and in the 2014 race Banjo broke their previous record and finished in 9 days, 13 hours and 36 seconds winning the multi hull class.
Back in 1996 the first yacht over the finish line in St Helena was fifty-foot racing yacht “Nina”
The race coordinator Craig Middleton from the Royal Cape yacht club recorded that Nina with her crew of four crossed the race finish line taking a total of 8 days 21 hours and 57 minutes.
Nina was welcomed by a group of cheering supporters onboard a launch that was shipped specially to the Island for the race coordination.
Simon Pipe of We Love St Helena who was also on St Helena in 1996 made a audio recording of the welcome arrival of the first yacht from on board the launch
Simon captured the moment including live reporting from Radio St Helena on the race Simon also spoke to the race coordinator Craig Middleton, his wife Claire, Journalist, the crew of Nina, also three young St Helenians (one of them was Giselle Richards) who presented gifts to the crew of Nina.
With westerly winds blowing lightly and fluctuating from about 12 knots across Table bay in Cape town, fifteen yachts gracefully sailed of the start line at around 14.00 local time this afternoon to begin the 2018 Cape to St Helena race.
Some of the yachts taking up their position are familiar with this passage, as they had participated in the race before. Although the winds are predicted to build, it is forecasted that they will move south over the next day and will become moderate thereafter and it should be all downwind sailing conditions.
A spokesman from the Royal Cape yacht club said there was a special buzz at the club today prior to the race as family and friends came down to say good bye.
Other Boats and spectators who supported the race came out today and said goodbye to the competitors, some of which sailed with the racegoers towards the coast as it’s a popular time for holiday makers to sail up the coast to begin their holidays.
Competing in the race is the 38-foot yacht Carpe Diem skippered by James Herne from St Helena. James has on board a South African crew member, his 13-year-old son Josh, and wife Hannah and their two younger kids. Carpe Diem is described as a dark horse in this race.
Immediately after the race I spoke with Andrew Collins from the Royal Cape Yacht club to give us an update on the race to St Helena.
It was only a few weeks ago many supporters,
friends and family gathered at the landing steps in Jamestown St Helena to wave
farewell to the crew of the yacht Carpe Diem who was about to set sail on a 1700-mile
journey to Cape town to prepare for 2018 Cape to St Helena yacht race. This a
was journey that had been carefully planned with the help and contribution by
many local St Helena people and Island organisations.
The Cape to St Helena yacht race which
was formally known as the Governor’s cup race was invented by a former Captain,
Dave Roberts of the RMS St Helena, along with the help of then Governor David
Smallman and the Royal Cape Yacht Club which resulted in the very first governor’s
cup race been invented on the 8th of December 1996 starting at table
bay in Cape town.
After the first race which was proven
to be a great success a team from St Helena was invited to part take in this
exciting scheduled event and the 2018 race was no different.
This year Carpe Diem a Bavaria 38-foot boat owned by St
Helenian born James Herne was entered into the 2018 Cape to St Helena race but
this was not an easy challenge for James as his boat was moored in St Helena
after he and his wife Hannah and their 3 kids had recently returned home to settle
in St Helena after circumnavigating around the world.
an experienced skipper with 75000 nautical miles under his belt, and now the
commodore of the St Helena Yacht club James was keen to compete in the race and
was offering up the opportunity for a St Helena crew to share his passion to be
part of this event.
weeks of planning and making sure that all the logistics were in place James
was ready to sail his 38-foot Carpe Diem
back to Cape town in readiness for the race.
The challenge to get Carpe Diem into race
mode was not straight forward, the training and recruiting of a St Helena crew began
and the planning began and in typical St Helena fashion, the support of the
local St Helena community behind him was helping to fund raise for the event
with every one making sure this was another success.
Finally, James and his son Josh and
three selected St Helena crew members, Andrew Turner, Michael Owen, Dennis Owen got underway and team Carpe
Diem departed Jamestown harbour.
As the journey progress, local media
reported “The journey was progressing well despite experiencing some calm
weather on route and having to motor for a few hours the crew on board was
doing amazing and in very high spirits.
A YouTube video shot during the trip showed the crew enjoying their time on board and some of them also managed to swim during the calm period along with some great onboard home cooking.
Social media messages flooded the internet
with well wishes and support for team Carpe Diem, despite been a little behind
schedule the St Helena yacht club finally confirmed that team Carpe Diem had
arrived safely in Cape Town at 5.15 am on December 18th.
Shortly after the arrival the same day The St Helena independent and Saint FM broke a news story that three crew members, the Owen Brothers and Andrew Turner had called it a day and would not be competing in the Cape to St Helena race on board Carpe Diem, although it was not clear at the time the reason for this sudden decision however the three crew members had managed to secure flight tickets and would be flying back to St Helena on the Saturday flight.
James and his 13-year-old son Josh who
was still determined to compete in the race continued working to repair and fit
new sails, thirteen-year-old Josh spent four hours dangling from the mast
sorting out Nav lights, while the boats race tracker was been fitted parallel
task continued to resolve the main engine starting issue which incidentally gave
trouble on arrival in Cape Town.
There had been no communications or
update from the departing crew after they had left Carpe Diem which meant that
they also left some of their personal belongings on board.
The news story soon appeared online and
social media viewers sprung into life and many conversations were discussed openly
including statements that the breaking news was inaccurate, meanwhile while pro
supporters of the race offered words of encouragement for the remaining Carpe
Diem crew to continue the race and motivated them to go and win it for St
A group of social media followers even
reached out asking who would be keen to crew the boat, Steven Ellick a saint
who now lives in the UK offered to help crew the boat, while others suggested
that maybe something could be done to get a St Helena crew in place to compete
in the race.
After much discussion James told his
followers on Facebook that after a long conversation online with his wife
Hannah and the kids who were back in St Helena, that they had made a decision that
the family would fly to South Africa from St Helena to join them in Cape Town
to crew the boat and the 1700 nautical mile Cape to St Helena race would be
back on, and everything would be plain sailing for the rest of the Journey,
however this was short lived as another twist appeared on the horizon, when it
was discovered that the Carpe Diem had to prove to South African Immigration authorities
that the three departing crew had left the country, This issue potentially
could have stop Carpe Diem leaving South Africa said James and he would have
not been able to compete in the race after all, however with some support from
St Helena this was rectified within a few hours with the help of immigration
Speaking to James live from Carpe Diem we asked James how he was he getting on despite a rollercoaster two weeks and whether he was ready to be on the start line of the 2018 Cape to St Helena race.