Yacht Club Punta del Este, Bekezela and Qingdao arrive in Cape Town after South Atlantic race

10 November 2023

It’s Day 2 of arrivals and after over 3,500 miles of ocean racing, the remaining Clipper Race teams are arriving in Cape Town to warm hospitality, cold beverages and some well-earned rest after what was an exceptionally challenging race across the South Atlantic Ocean.

Finishing in fourth place and crossing the finish line at 00:03:51 UTC was Uruguayan team entry and current leaders on the overall standings, Yacht Club Punta del Este. Having been a front-runner in the race, the team lost sight of a podium position as Zhuhai shifted into third place.

Image: Yacht Club Punta del Este team

Race Skipper Nano Antia commented on arrival: "Well, you can never expect things when you go to the ocean, you really see what Mother Nature throws at you. This time was really tough, there was no downwind, we had I think three or four days of downwind, that’s it. Then it was upwind, gales, wind holes and repeat. We had a couple of days with the Code 3 at 33 knots, with full spinnakers and big waves, then big rolling seas and light airs to Cape Town. An absolute nightmare but I enjoy those sorts of things.

“Motivation is everything to keep having good results. Having fun and being joyful is the key for our team. With music, chants, a lot of teaching, being close to people and asking how they are- they love it. We are very happy with our results, and we also had zero damage, so we are going to have a very chilled stopover. My goal on this leg was to be very hands off, and absolutely nailed it they were awesome. I’m so proud, they really sailed very well and stepped up their game massively. The real teacher is the ocean itself, its where your mind really tunes with the routine that the ocean brings each day. Then the learnings cement, so you can then teach more. We just really build everybody up.”

Congratulating the crew on their efforts, Commodore of the Yacht Club Punta del Este Juan Etcheverrito said: "Our most sincere congratulations. We know this was quite an unpredictable and very rough leg, but what a performance! You didn’t set your arms down for a minute, you pushed forward and harder as the days went by… We were glued to the viewer thinking how lucky we are on this side being warm and dry but bet the excitement you got is of an unbeatable feeling. Now enjoy the well-deserved rest and get ready for next. Thanks to all and each of you for keeping our 100 years dream moving!"

Fernanda Nunez, an Ambassador for the Yacht Club Punta del Este, who joined Leg 2 after sailing into her hometown after Leg 1, commented: “Leg 2 was completely different. It was a lot tougher, physically, and mentally. We had gales, and wind holes, which were the most difficult things we came across. We thought it was going to be shorter, but in the end, it wasn’t and then right at the end we had a big wind hole. Because it was so different, I think this has improved us all as sailors big time, because I felt that this was more real, it’s what I came for: not the easy part but the difficult part.”

Following in fifth place, Bekezela sailed past Table Mountain, docking in the V&A Waterfront Marina after a blinding race, crossing the finish line at 05:53:55 UTC. The team had suffered some initial setbacks in the race, rendering them towards the back of the pack for a time. However, great tactical decisions and hard work on deck by the crew enabled David, Maisie and the Bekezela crew to shoot from eleventh place the top six, maintaining a strong position and finally finishing in fifth, the team’s highest result so far this edition.

Image: Bekezela arrives in Cape Town

AQP Maisie Bristow said: “We just kept going and kept our focus. We knew how the boat likes to sail and how she likes to be trimmed, and we just kept picking away the miles until we started picking off the boats! We just kept pushing after that, it motivated everyone on board, and it just continued to grow and get better.”

Crew member on Bekezela Kirsten Johnson reflected on the race: “In the first couple of days our steering mechanism broke at and so we just went north, way off course and then we fought super hard for ten days, we beat it!”

Image: Bekezela team

Next in was another Capetonian Skipper, Dale Smyth, and the crew of Qingdao that placed sixth in the third race of the 2023-24 edition. The team enjoyed a slightly faster and windier finish than the other teams as they sailed into Table Bay and across the finish line at 10:16:31 UTC.

Image: Qingdao skipper Dale Smyth

Crew member Katie Bagley, who is celebrating her birthday as she sailed into Cape Town with her team said: “It’s definitely a unique and special birthday and I am so happy to be in port in Cape Town! It was so nice to see Table Mountain and Lion’s Head and it was just stunning!”

No stranger to the South Atlantic ocean, Skipper Dale Smyth said: “It was an amazing finish and very happy to be here. I’m so proud of the team, the Qingdao crew are the loveliest group of people. We had a great time. It was a real mixed bag of wind holes, upwind, some downwind, some storms. There were a couple of brutal wind holes toward the end, but that’s sailing!”

Image: Qingdao team

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