Throwback Thursday: GREAT Britain celebrates win into Cape Town

23 October 2014

“It was an amazing feeling to win our first ocean race, be the first team to see Table Mountain and be greeted by a crowd of supporters and family,” says Ionie Robinson, a round the world crew member on board GREAT Britain.

She looks back to this this time last year and winning the race into South Africa on Leg 2.

The fleet was torn from the start as to whether it should head further south in the search for westerly winds, but putting more miles between them and Cape Town, or sail the shortest course on the Rhumb Line but risk being becalmed. Waiting for the weather report email to arrive made for a nervous time on board and for those watching the Race Viewer as this would play a major part in each team’s sail plan and direction for the race.

Ionie, a 49 year-old IT Consultant from Northampton, explains that keeping GREAT Britain’s competitors at bay was not easy as her team took the big gamble to go south further than most of the fleet early on.

“Initially our decision did not sit well with the team as we drifted down the leaderboard and the rest of the fleet pulled away from us. We went from leading the race to seventh. After the disappointment of the previous races the team was frustrated and morale hit rock bottom, but a few days later our routing tactics began to work as we crept up the leaderboard and our competitive nature began to shine through. We started to push the boat harder than ever.”

Rival team Invest Africa had one of the biggest victories, as its gamble a week into the race took it even further south from the rest of the fleet to climb from last position into second place, only to be overtaken by Henri Lloyd in the final few hours before crossing the finish line.

At the prizegiving ceremony, a traditional African steel band set the scene as the crew members of GREAT Britain celebrated the team’s first victory. The British Consul General in Cape Town, Chris Trott presented the team with their first winning pennant in the race. A surprise message of congratulations from Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg followed.

Ionie adds: “To know that this achievement was down to all our hard work and determination over 13 days sailing at our very best was inspiring. We had endured very wet and cold conditions and all that the South Atlantic could throw at us.”

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To watch our YouTube video of the fleets arrival in Cape Town, click here

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