Despite setbacks Gryphon grabs 10th spot in Cape to Rio | SASCOC - SASCOC

Despite setbacks Gryphon grabs 10th spot in Cape to Rio

Cape to Rio

Using the combination of a floorboard and buckets in place of a broken rudder, the Ullman Challenge Gryphon team were not exactly aiming to win the recently concluded Cape to Rio yacht race.

But winning isn’t necessarily what the famous inter-continental race is all about. Just reaching Rio was an immense accomplishment for the Ullman Challenge team, who eventually finished in an impressive 10th place after 19 days at sea.

Speaking after the race, navigator Nick Leggatt explained: ‘Completing the Cape to Rio race always provides one with a sense of achievement and particularly this time as we had a good result despite facing some serious adversity along the way.

‘The biggest challenge was undoubtedly dealing with the broken rudder. Despite having some very experienced crew onboard this was the first time any of us had been in this situation and it quickly became apparent that the text-book way of resolving the problem was not going to work.

‘We tried several systems of jury-rigging the steering and found that some either did not work at all, or only worked in certain conditions. In the end we either used the spinnaker pole and a floorboard for steering, in light winds, or buckets trailed over the stern in stronger winds.’

Ullman Challenge Gryphon - action

In the picture (right) the Ullman Challenge Gryphon is seen sailing at high speed before the rudder broke.

Most of the boats competing in the Cape to Rio have extraordinary stories behind them and their crews. The Ullman Challenge team was made up chiefly of sailors from disadvantaged backgrounds on the Cape Flats, several having started off sailing at the Zeekoevlei Academy through their school in Grassy Park.

‘The team came from a variety of backgrounds but many had built up a significant amount of ocean sailing experience as well as having worked in the marine industry, so we had a good all-round team of sailors and competent seamen,’ said Leggatt.

So, what is it that has been attracting such disparate groups of people (ranging from UCT students to pro sailors) to tackle the Atlantic Ocean on a regular basis since 1971?

‘The Cape to Rio unites two of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in the world,’ explained Leggatt. ‘It is also a surprisingly challenging tactical race, normally with strong south easterlies to contend with in the beginning, the challenge of deciding how far north to go and when to gybe around the high pressure as well as the final tricks of dealing with the strong northerly winds before Cabo Frio and the land effects afterwards.

‘But generally it is sailed in quite a mild climate so it is a good test for all, from hard-core ocean racers to family cruiser-racers.’

Meanwhile, as celebrations in Rio came to an end over the weekend, there’s still plenty more for sailors to look forward to in 2017.

‘The Cape to Rio is always such a great way to kick off the sailing year and once again it didn’t disappoint in terms of drama, bravery and excitement,’ said SA Sailing chairman Peter Hall.

‘We’re now looking ahead to the rest of the year which is jam-packed with a host of sailing events – from beginner learn-to-sail programmes to national championships and of course our elite sailors taking on the best in the world,’ added Hall.

‘That’s the wonderful thing about sailing – it spans such a range of ages, backgrounds and abilities and we look forward to a successful year ahead.’

The Ullman Challenge Gryphon team after reaching Rio. From left to right: Lorenzo Yon, Daniel Agulhas, Nick Leggatt, Marco Tobin, Theo Yon, Leroy Rudolf, Andre Julius and Clarence Hendricks.


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