CAPE TOWN - Defending Lipton Cup holders the Royal Cape Yacht Club (RCYC) will head into this year’s competition with no home ground advantage as the historic sailing race takes place in Durban waters.
During a special pre-Lipton Cup celebration, the RCYC team as well as the RCYC Sailing Academy team (sailing for Langebaan Yacht Club - as every yacht club may enter only one team) received an official send-off at the weekend.
The RCYC teams have the same mission: Bring back the cup.
They received good wishes and words of encouragement from the club’s commodore, committee, Lipton Cup trustees, members, as well as proud family and friends.
The winning team hosts the Lipton Cup on their home waters and thus has a “home ground advantage”. This year is for the Royal Cape team to defend the cup on the challenger’s home waters.
This unique situation came about after the Lipton Cup 2013 winners’ decision to retire due to their boat not having been class legal, with Durban’s Point Yacht Club (PYC) thus becoming the 2013 winner.
In a gesture of goodwill, RCYC offered PYC the opportunity to host this year’s event.
The first time RCYC (then called the Table Bay Yacht Club) dispatched a yacht and crew to Durban to “bring back the cup” was 106 years ago, after they lost the very first Lipton Cup to Durban’s Point Yacht Club in 1911.
The trophy remained in Durban the following year after an unsuccessful challenge by the Cape sailors, staying for longer than the local sailing community would like to remember.
The teams depart for Durban this week, giving them some time to become familiar with Durban’s ocean and use sailing races, the MSC Regatta and the L26 Nationals to provide them with some training for the Lipton Cup, which will take place from July 7 to 13.
RCYC’s Team Homechoice will be skippered by Roger Hudson and supported by team manager William Crockett again, whose crew features talented and accomplished youngsters.
Asenathi Jim, Alex Burger, Joweal Klaase, Rivaldo Arendse and Benji Daniel have been training and sent to international sailing championships over the past few years with the help of the Race Ahead programme.
The RCYC Sailing Academy, run by Lindani Mchunu, focuses on teaching youth from previously disadvantaged backgrounds how to sail professionally.
Sibu Sizatu, one of the winning team members in the 2017 race, who has gathered a lot of experience through Race Ahead, took on the role of skipper, and his crew consists of young sailors including ex-Shosholoza crew member Joe Heywood, Kenwyn Daniels, Athenkosi Vena, Renaldo Mohale and Asanda Conjwa.
Both teams are well-prepared and look forward to a week of exciting racing in Durban, where conditions are milder at this time of year, with no gale-force winds or extremely cold temperatures expected.