One year on: Cape Town Stopover Captures Race Crew Hearts

18 November 2020

After a gruelling South Atlantic crossing, seeing Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain on the horizon was a welcome sight for the Clipper 2019-20 Race Crew. At the end of Leg 2, the popular Cape Town stopover awaited and was the perfect destination to soak up the culture, rest and to prepare for the next stage of the circumnavigation.

The V&A Waterfront, located in the oldest working harbour in the Southern Hemisphere, played host to the Clipper Race fleet, crew and supporters. And with the marina at its heart, the waterfront offered restaurants, shops, activities and more for everyone to enjoy. With a whole host of cultural, business, and tourism events taking place throughout the ten day stopover, it was a packed schedule of activities to enjoy.

Arshia Mahmood, who was finishing her race in Cape Town, after sailing on board WTC Logistics since Race Start in London, has been looking back fondly on her time in the South African city saying: “That feeling of the sunshine hitting me in the face and seeing Table Mountain, ‘Where, where, I can’t see it...oh yeah, there it is!’, was so exhilarating and literally changed the mood on board. Pulling into the V&A Waterfront I couldn’t help but be overcome with tears. They were from the sheer exhaustion of having made it, knowing this was the end of my journey and that my crew mates would be going on and I wouldn’t be there.

“Cape Town was an amazing stopover, great food, awesome hospitality, excursions to the vineyards, Table Mountain, the Botanical Gardens, Zeitz MOCAA and Robben island. The Unicef project visit to the Isibindi Safe Park was so humbling, what amazingly resilient young people, who won’t let poverty and a lack of opportunities stand in their way and continue to battle on. Oh and getting some decent sleep! If I didn’t say, I love Cape Town!”

The stopover enabled a group of 20 crew, from across the fleet, to visit a very special programme supported by Clipper Race Charity Partner Unicef, the Isibindi Safe Park. The Safe Park, in Grabouw, is a place where children from the local community can come to play, learn, get love and are provided with a safe space. It is a programme that has been developed by the National Association of Child Care Workers (NACCW) and endorsed by the government in response to the needs of vulnerable families in South Africa.

The aim of this project visit was to bring to life the invaluable work that Unicef does on the ground so that the Clipper Race crew can proactively promote the work the children’s charity does as they circumnavigate the globe.

For Unicef crew member Tim Chappel, the visit reaffirmed his support of Unicef and was a milestone moment of his Clipper Race experience, witnessing “the love present in that school”. He said: “We saw how the children were fantastically supported and given their voice in order to exercise their freedom to survive without fear. It was extremely sobering and a face slap of realisation.”

For Captonian, and GoToBermuda Skipper, David ‘Wavy’ Immelman, this stopover was extra special as he was able to show his home town off to his crew. Having sailed into Cape Town countless times, this occasion was one of the best. Looking back he said: “Racing into Cape Town is always special, the mountains, the backdrop, the warm reception. However with GoToBermuda we managed to hit the nail on the head. We approached the finish line at sunset itself and it was a magnificent one at that. The crew were blown away by the beauty of the city and how magnificent a backdrop it really is.

GoToBermuda certainly embraced my home town, with visits to the wine farms, up the mountain and of course Cape Point. One of the highlights for me was at the Royal Cape Yacht Club, who hosted an evening for the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. The whole evening was great fun and especially proud for me as my whole crew were there, cheering me on. Showing off one's home club to the crew is always something special. We had also arranged a crew 'braai' (barbecue) at Kelvin Grove Sports Club. They opened the door for the crew, families and loved ones, and a few of my local sailing mates to share stories with each other.”

One of the popular Southern Hemisphere destinations for Clipper Race Partners, there were also a wide variety of activations and business events. These included the third event of the Clipper Connect Business Series, which was run in partnership with Wesgro, the Official Tourism, Trade & Investment Promotion Agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape. An impressive panel discussed Investment in Africa and the Western Cape, in front of an audience of Clipper Race Partners and Crew, local businesses and Government Officials.

In line with Host Port and Team Partner Seattle’s key partnership objective of promoting ocean health throughout the Clipper Race circuit, Seattle Sports Commission (SSC), a nonprofit that promotes the Puget Sound as a world-class sports region, worked behind the scenes to organise for 60 local school children to travel to the V&A Waterfront for a full day of ocean health and marine life education.

Pupils from Prestwich Street Primary, a school in the heart of Cape Town, were invited to participate in a morning of fun, learning and exploration at the Two Oceans Aquarium and on board the Seattle yacht. Students were joined by some of Seattle’s crew members to take part in an array of activities helping to raise awareness on the importance of ocean health.

Dare To Lead also utilised the South African destination to celebrate its heritage. Over the last eight years, Dirk Van Daele, a European financier and philanthropist, has partnered with four Clipper Race teams and established the Rainbow Foundation to develop the leadership qualities of young South Africans.

Twelve of the original Rainbow Foundation ambassadors, who first sailed in the 2013-14 and 2015-16 editions aboard Invest Africa and IchorCoal, with some also sailing on Dare To Lead in 2017-18, met up with the current Dare To Lead Skipper Guy Waites and his crew to share their common heritage with a day on the water and evening event to mark the occasion.

The day of celebrations were not to be forgotten for Dare To Lead circumnavigator, Stuart Mace, who looking back on the event said: “It was a real highlight when our crew took the original ambassadors from the Rainbow Trust out sailing. We had a great day on the water and a party in the evening with them all. Wonderful fun, I will never forget it!”

Spinlock, Official Lifejacket Supplier, was in Cape Town to conduct scheduled servicing on all Spinlock Deckvest VITO lifejackets in use on the 2019-20 edition of the Clipper Race. Myles Uren, Product Manager for Spinlock, ran sessions with the Clipper Race AQPs and groups of crew to service all the lifejackets, educate and take feedback. In line with naming the race, Myles also presented the top three teams with a Spinlock trophy at the Race 3 Prizegiving.

Wesgro, along with Whittaker’s Wine Tours; a startup by Clipper 2017-18 Race crew member Phil Whitaker, hosted a series of events for Race Crew and Supporters. A far cry from the simple fare served on board a Clipper 70, these gastronomic tours helped the intrepid sailors sample the very best food and drink the city has to offer. Crew also took in many of the natural and cultural attractions of Cape Town including hikes up Table Mountain, visits to Boulders Penguin Colony and a trip to Robben Island.

The R&R offered by Cape Town gave Race Crew the downtime they needed to be ready for the next ocean crossing, the mammoth sail through the Indian and Southern Ocean’s to Australia. Truly a stopover to remember. Gallery of images from all stopover events here.

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