Skippers Peter Bosch and Rory Rochat with their youthful crew about the 'Rotary Scout' Photo: Alec Smith

CAPE TOWN – It’s the end of the year festive season break and, everyone who can, are heading off for a beach holiday. 

Imagine ten or more days on a yacht with nothing but the vast ocean surrounding you, in the company of good friends and family, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, far away from technology and social media. This is the experience awaiting the contestants, aged between 8 and 70, of this year’s Cape to St Helena yacht race.

Co-presented by the Royal Cape Yacht Club, St Helena Tourism and St Helena Yacht Club, and co-sponsored by Wesgro, the Cape to St Helena race will kick off in Table Bay on Wednesday, 26 December at 14:00. 

Departing yachts will be visible from vantage points along the coast of Cape Town before they disappear on the horizon and are expected to take between 9 and 15 days to arrive at St Helena Island.

Representing St Helena, skipper James Herne will be sailing with his wife and three children. Photo: Alec Smith
Representing St Helena, skipper James Herne will be sailing with his wife and three children. Photo: Alec Smith

Crew members of the 15 participating yachts, of which some have sailed to St Helena before, gathered at the Royal Cape Yacht Club on Friday to be welcomed by RCYC Commodore Vitor Medina as well as Cape to St Helena Race Chairman John Levin. Crews range from single-handed (Dale Kushner aboard ‘Yolo’) to a youthful crew of six scouts aged sixteen and younger (on ‘Rotary Scout’).

“A race like Cape to St Helena generally attracts a more relaxed and leisurely type of sailor as opposed to the serious professional racing type,” says Hilary Ackermann, RCYC sailing events manager. The fleet, consisting of yachts between 31 ft and 55 ft, all of which are excellent cruising vessels, includes twelve monohulls, two catamarans and a trimaran.

Among the many children who will be sailing to St Helena are six Scouts from Cape Town, all aged sixteen or younger: Kerryn Bosch, Tyla Gill, Wendy Sorour, Ewan Blamire, Joshua Jackson and Kyle Sasman represent the team with the most youngsters on board. Skippers Peter Bosch and Rory Rochat, both very experienced sailors, will be in charge of their yacht ‘Rotary Scout’.

The 'Banjo' crew is hoping to cross the finish line in nine days. Photo: Alec Smith
The 'Banjo' crew is hoping to cross the finish line in nine days. Photo: Alec Smith

Hoping for line honours once again is the team aboard ‘Banjo’, the 31 ft trimaran that has crossed the finish line in first position three times before - two consecutively. Skipper Kevin Webb is confident that it will only take them around 9 days to complete the race.

The one St Helenian team that will be competing along 14 South African teams arrived in Cape Town this week. Skipper James Herne, who will be sailing with his wife and three children, has recently completed a circumnavigation with his family aboard their yacht ‘Carpe Diem’, which is currently moored at the Royal Cape Yacht Club.

All boats are required to report back to RCYC every day at 10am South African time, and updates will be posted daily on www.capetosthelena.co.za

Marie Stinnes