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Lipton 2012 – Article written for Sailing Magazine by Kirsten Veenstra and Markus Progli

Royal Natal Yacht Club wins the prestigious Lipton Challenge Cup

 By Kirsten Veenstra and Markus Progli

 It was always clear that this year’s Lipton Challenge Cup, probably the most coveted trophy in South African sailing, was going to be a real humdinger, with competition stronger than ever. And that, it certainly was! The Knysna Yacht Club’s win of Lipton in 2010, and the consequence of Greg Davis and the KYC team taking it to Mossel Bay last year where they lost the trophy to Team Intasure from FBYC, was ironically, one of the best things that happened to the trophy. Mossel Bay’s sailing conditions levelled the playing fields, with five different winners over the six days of racing. It restored sailors’ faith in the dream of winning Lipton, proving that the defenders could be successfully challenged. This year, Lipton in False Bay did just that – again.

The final entry number was 25 – not quite the 35 we had hoped for, but not bad considering the continuing tough economic climate and very limited sponsorship for the teams.

Team Intasure of False Bay Yacht Club, skippered by Andrea Giovannini and Markus Progli in the fourth year of their campaign, clearly had some tough competition. Greg Davis’s RCYC team sponsored by RMS, this year had two-times Olympian Gareth Blanckenberg on the helm, and were using the L26 Greenlight for the first time. Royal Natal Yacht Club’s entry, Orion, skippered by Ricky Robinson, was into their third year of their campaign and last year had proved themselves to be a force to be reckoned with. UCT’s entry sponsored by Southern Charter was also going to be tough to beat, with wunderkind Brevan Thompson on the helm. It was great to see Ken Venn sailing again, having bought his old boat, Stainless Steele, sponsored by Rijk’s Cellar and sailing for Langebaan Yacht Club with Olympian Dominique Provoyeur on the helm. Choose Life Point Yacht Club was there to join RNYC in challenging for the Cup from Durbs, this year with Richard Weddel on the helm.

There were too many other great entries to mention – Hobie World Champ Alan Lawrence, also sponsored by Intasure and sailing for Fish Hoek Beach Sailing Club with a young team, four Defence Yacht Club Teams, Tony Norris and Finn de Haan on Enviroviz with their team from Theewaters, Leroy Rudolf from Zeekoe Vlei Yacht Club and a young team on Dynamic ID Systems… to get into the top ten positions overall this year was going to be tough!

It should also be mentioned that it was great to see Transvaal Yacht Club’s Team there, even after the recent sad loss of their skipper, the legendary Ewald Sternagel. The L26 Class hosted an “Ewald Sternagel Memorial Evening” during the regatta at FBYC in his memory and he would certainly have expected no less than for his team to be there, flying the TYC flag high. Again, there were many junior entries and crew members – great to see so many youngsters sailing at such a competitive level , and doing so well. The L26’s are certainly great boats for juniors to cut their teeth in competitive keel boating on.

John Leslie was this year’s Lipton Chairman. False Bay Yacht Club teamed up with Defence Yacht Club in the organisation of the event, and the core organising team of John Leslie and Jeremy Bagshaw from FBYC and Bram Weller from the Navy did an exemplary job. The Navy had offered free dry sailing and weekly craning in and out of the water for weekend practicing for all boats from as early as March – hugely generous and a service that would have cost the entrants a small fortune elsewhere. This is certainly going to be a tough precedent for future clubs hosting Lipton to beat. What it meant is that False Bay waters have had L26s out sailing and practising for many months now!

The usually-sleepy small seaside town of Simonstown came alive for the week, with most of the teams renting houses in Simonstown and eating out in the restaurants or at the club every night. The local council and many local businesses all stepped in, financially and otherwise, to do their bit and make the week such a resounding success. Doug Alison was again the race officer, and as usual, did an exceptional job in tough conditions. It’s no easy task setting courses like Lipton’s 12 nautical Mile trapezoid, but between Doug and the Navy laying the marks, they made it all happen flawlessly, Racing started on time every day, and in general, the event was professionally and efficiently run and was a real pleasure for the competitors.

Racing started on Sunday 19th August. It was raining, and racing started in around 20 knots of breeze. The course was set out towards Roman Rock Lighthouse and this proved to be the spot for every day’s racing. Whales abounded in the racing area. Doug opted to get the compulsory 12 nM trapezoid course out of the way, with the boats sailing three rounds.

The defenders, Intasure/FBYC, were first at the top mark, followed by RMS/RCYC and then Orion/RNYC. Halfway through the race, Rijks Cellar/LYC started to dominate the race. Intasure/FBYC did some keel gardening and picked up kelp, and that was their race finished. Rijks/LYC got unlucky on the last downwind when their guy snapped and RMS/RCYC overtook them, giving LYC a second place and Orion/RNYC a third.

On the second day, Monday, the wind started off around 6 -10 knots out of the West/North West, and racing finished in around 14-16 knots of breeze, with big breeze oscillations during racing. Doug opted to give the competitors the compulsory triangle course. Today it was the turn of the brilliant Southern Charter/UCT and Intasure/FHBSC teams to dominate, with Southern Charter/UCT fighting Alan Lawrence and his young crew on Intasure/FHBSC for the lead which Alan held for a long time, eventually being overtaken by UCT to take first place with Intasure/FHBSC taking the second and Choose Life/PYC 3rd.

Tuesday, Day Three, was without a doubt a two-boat race between RMS/RCYC and Intasure/FBYC’s day. It was the turn of the compulsory windward/leeward course, and the fleet sailed four rounds, starting in around 12-15 knots Northerly breeze. From the start, RMS/RCYC and Intasure/FBYC showed the fleet a clean pair of heels, RMS/RCYC leading the whole race and fighting for first place right to the finish. On the final beat, Intasure/FBYC caught RMS/RCYC enough to engage in a tacking duel. The boats then took separate sides of the course and RMS/RCYC managed to get across the finish line narrowly ahead of Intasure/FBYC. Orion/RNYC crossed the line third about four minutes later – a definite two-boat race!

Wednesday, Day Four, provided Southerly winds with the fleet starting in around 10 knots, the gusts maybe reaching 14 knots. With the three compulsory courses out of the way, it was clear that Doug would give the fleets windward/leewards as they provide the most tactical sailing. Today was RMS/RCYC’s race again, as they left the fleet looking for parking right from the start. With RMS/RCYC so far ahead, the competition became one for 2nd place between Southern Charter/UCT, Orion/RNYC, Intasure/ FBYC and Choose Life/PYC. UCT sailed a fantastic race to get the jump on their competition and take the 2nd place, followed by Intasure/FBYC.

This is where things became interesting. At the end of the fourth day of sailing in Lipton, with two days of racing to go, looking at the overall results becomes relevant, even though, as any sailor knows, anything can still happen.

At this stage of the game, it looked like it was almost in the bag for RMS/RCYC, as on 8 points, they had a 7 point lead over Orion/RNYC on 15 points, closely followed by Southern Charter/UCT on 18 points and Intasure/FBYC on 19 points. Going into the penultimate day of sailing on Thursday, it certainly seemed that it was these four boats that would fight it out for the title, and that as long as RMS/RCYC kept up their winning form, they were home and dry. RMS/RCYC has sailed a brilliant regatta thus far with three first places under their belt. But, all sportsmen and sailors have come to realise the old idiom – “it’s not over till the fat lady sings’ and it could not have been any more correct at the 2012 Lipton Cup.

Thursday, Day Five and the penultimate day of racing, laid on light, patchy winds, and hence very tricky sailing conditions to test the mettle of even the best tactical sailors. The course was again a windward/leeward (four rounds). The first beat was in 5-6 knots, with most sailors siting downstairs on the keel and the fleet evenly spread over the course. Two thirds up the beat, the wind died completely, and life on the water in False Bay became interesting when after ten minutes of parking-lot conditions, the wind shifted 40 degrees to the right and came through from the North West with speeds of around 12 knots – False Bay winter sailing at its most tricky! ZVYC got to the top mark first, followed by Choose Life/PYC and then Orion/RNYC. The wind settled in from the Northwest and it was the Durbanites’ race from there on, with Choose Life/PYC taking 1st place and Orion/RNYC 2nd with the defenders Intasure/FBYC in 3rd place. RMS/RCYC got caught out in the change of pressure and were well back in the fleet but managed to claw their way back to a 10th place finish.

And just like that – BAM – things had changed going into the last day with Orion/RNYC suddenly leading, a point ahead of RMS/RCYC and three boats tied in 3rd place – Southern Charter/UCT, Choose Life/PYC and the defenders, Intasure/FBYC. To add to the tension, the forecast for Friday was for no wind – one of those glassy, windless, False Bay winter’s days, meant for sitting in the sun with a glass of wine, not sailing.

Race Officer Doug Alison did his best to attempt a race. With the last possible signal no later than 13h55, he started the race literally at 13h55, taking no chances of a general recall and putting up the black flag. However, towards the top mark, with the wind dying gradually, it was clear that it would be impossible to finish a race and racing was abandoned. This is not a decision any race officer makes lightly, and an extremely difficult one to make, and Doug got in a RIB to go to the top mark and really have a look at the conditions on the course. In fact, all through the week’s racing, Doug had been talking to the local fishing boats and all the False Bay experts who were out on the water during their racing, backing his decisions up with their feedback on what conditions they thought the bay was likely to provide next.

And there it was – Ricky Robinson and his young team from Royal Natal Yacht Club in Durban had won the coveted Lipton Challenge Cup – the first Kwazulu-Natal Club to win Lipton Cup since fellow Natalians Point Yacht Club’s victory in 1984.  RNYC’s victory this year is their first since 1973 when JM Whittle sailing ‘Sunrose’ a 30m² won the trophy, , and now places the club in joint second place on the all-time leader board with a total of 10 Lipton Wins.  As skipper Ricky Robinson said at a brilliant prizegiving that night laid on by the Navy at their beautiful mess hall on the hill in Simonstown overlooking the bay, “So next year in Durban we will defend the Challenge in board shorts and T-shirts!”

It is certainly time for the cup to go to warmer waters – it’s been in the Cape for long enough and the change is welcomed, and at the prizegiving the teams were already planning their campaigns in Durban next year. The RNYC team received a standing ovation as they collected the Lipton Challenge trophy at the prize giving function – clearly their victory and the change of venue are well supported!

Under the skilled and experienced management of Gregg Dobson, the RNYC team of Ricky Robinson, Brennan Robinson, William Crockett, Shane Elliot, Jof Heathcote and Sean (Homeboy) van Rensburg who this year had to step off the boat due to study commitments, showed that in Lipton Cup, like most regattas of a few days, consistency certainly pays off – without a win on any day of racing this year, they sailed consistently well and it paid off for them.
Interestingly, crew member Shane Elliot has sailed Lipton Cup for 12 years – and finally, a hard-fought and well-deserved win has come his way!

And so, we have to wait another year to see if the boys from Durbs can successfully defend their title. It’s going to be no mean feat to do, with many top teams and sailor from the Cape determined to bring the trophy back to the colder waters of Cape Town.

Royal Natal Yacht Club and Point yacht Club will team up to organise the 2013 Lipton Challenge Cup, and planning is already underway for a really big event in July, when Durban sailing is at its best.

We look forward to details! Keep an eye on the Lipton Cup website – http://www.liptoncup.com and Facebook Page – http://www.facebook.com/LiptonCup2012

Results:

Series Place

Sail No

Boat

Skipper

Club

Series Points

1 79 Orion B2G2 Ricky Robinson RNYC 17
2 24 RMS Insurance Brokers Greg Davis RCYC 18
3 30 Southern Charter UCT Maverick Neil Malan/Oliver Hobson UCTYC 23
4 74 PYC Choose Life Richard Weddel PYC 23
5 7 Team Intasure Andrea Giovannini/Markus Progli FBYC 23
6 68 Dynamic ID Systems Leroy Rudolf ZVYC 34
7 19 Rijk’s Cellar Dominique Provoyeur/Ken Venn LYC 41
8 33 MSC Bertha’s David Shilton DYC -WP 41
9 31 HMYC Colourpress Craig Millar HMYC 43
10 71 Intasure Hooligan Alan Lawrence FHBSC 45
11 25 Envirobiz Tony Norris/Finn de Haan TSC 53
12 41 MBYC Riaan Turner MBYBC 56
13 78 JML/RCYC/Lalizas Murray Willcox DCYC 61
14 52 Black Marlin Ashwin Daniels DYC-BLD 66
15 36 Bumbo Randolph Verheij TYC 69
16 60 JML3 Theo Yon HBYC 77
17 58 Orion Richard Rath ABYC 83
18 43 Team Escape Rodney Tanner GBYC 84
19 38 Bandito Judy Provoyeur IYC 98
20 62 Foster Wealth Barnard Farmer SBYC 101
21 66 KYC Challenger Rob Clark KYC 101
22 83 JML2 William Whittaker MAC 111
23 3 Welsh Witch John Young GLYC 112
24 50 Cape Recife Jonathan Cole DYC-PTA 124
25 63 Blue Tango II Mark Goad DYC-KZN 125