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Lipton Cup 2010 – article written for Sailing Mag By Kirsten Veenstra

Lipton Cup 2010
22nd – 27th August 2010 in Table Bay

Royal Cape Yacht Club was again the host club for Lipton Cup this year, and Table Bay the chosen waters, after Greg Davis and his team from RCYC on Dalys took the 2009 title and retained their run of Lipton victories.
Since the beginning of the year and especially during the build-up to Lipton, there have been a few questions on people’s lips about the way this year’s cup could go…. one being whether Lipton was being sailed in Table Bay for the last time for a while after Greg decided to sail the boat, now owned and sponsored by Colorpress and sailing under that name, for Knysna Yacht Club this year, with the chosen waters of Mossel Bay.
The other big question, was of course, if Dale Kushner on Dynamic ID Systems, sailing for RCYC, could keep the trophy in Cape Town in 2011, and the even bigger one, it seemed, was if 26 and 24 year-old Andrea Giovannini and Markus Progli and their young crew on Intasure, who came 3rd with very little effort last year, cold take the cup away from Greg David and Gareth Blankenberg this year with their well-planned campaign and great support from Intasure.

More worrying questions were those of whether a sponsor would be found for the event; always a difficult issue during a recession such as South Africa is seeing now, which seems to be affecting regatta and yachting sponsorship far worse than it was this time last year. The related question, of course, was that of how many entries there would be with the potential scenario of no sponsor and the higher entry fees that go with this eventuality.

As it turned out, despite huge efforts from Lipton Cup Chairman Vitor Medina and his committee, no event sponsor was found. Vitor and his team, however, made huge efforts to keep the entry fee as low as possible and organise a Lipton Cup with just as much flair as previous years’ regattas – and they achieved this very successfully. Royal Cape Yacht Club came to the party with big sponsorship for the event to achieve this objective, and great support was also received from Harken, North Sails, Sea Port Supplies and the City of Cape Town, making the event possible, albeit still on a budget and with none of the fancy handouts and free breakfasts and evening meals that competitors have become accustomed to over the last few years. Despite this, however, an amazing 25 entries were received and Lipton promised to be as big and exciting and well run event as it has been over the past few years – and it was!

There seemed to be far more practice, boat work and general Lipton activity at RCYC the few weeks leading up to Lipton this year than there has been in previous years and the general morale and camaraderie amongst the Lipton teams and competitors was wonderful as always. The entry list included three junior teams from MAC, ZVYC and Bishops and many student and young teams from clubs such as FBYC, UCT and TSC as well as three development teams and Dominique Provoyeur’s  all-woman entry, Bandito, sailing for Imperial Yacht Club.
It was clear that the boats to watch would of course be Greg Davis and Gareth Blankenberg on Colorpress, sailing for Knysna Yacht Club; Andrea Giovannini and Markus Progli on Intasure, sailing for FBYC, Dale Kushner on Dynamic ID Systems, sailing for RCYC, Finn de Haan and James Largier on Intasure’s 2nd boat, sailing for TSC; Dominique Provoyeur on Bandito, sailing for Imperial Yacht Club, and, a new entry of Ricky Robinson and his young crew on Orion sailing for Royal Natal, and of course, as usual, Ewald Sternagel on Bumbo sailing for Transvaal and the UCT team, this year skippered by Ollie Hobson.

Conspicuous in his absence this year was Mark Sadler who had too many overseas sailing commitments, and who stepped aside for Ricky and his team to use Orion.
Looking at the entry list, it must be said that it seemed like Lipton had turned into a junior regatta this year, but then the L26, although a very physically-demanding boat, is by virtue of its size a great keelboat for juniors to start on and what better way than against some of SA’s top sailors in what is arguably the most completive regatta in the SA Sailing calendar? It was great to see so many young Dabbie sailors crewing on various boats in the fleet, and great support from their parents all the way…

The results of the L26 WP Champs, held the weekend before Lipton’s start, are often very different to Lipton’s results and it is often said that whoever wins WP Champs does not win Lipton. If this proved to be true this year, it promised to be an interesting Lipton! At the WP Champs, Greg and Gareth on Colorpress took the gold medal, and the silver was taken by Ricky and his team on Orion, making it clear that they would be a force to be reckoned with during Lipton…

The Lipton Cup Opening Ceremony takes place the evening before racing starts, this year on Saturday 21st August, and was a wonderful affair, with all the teams busy with scrutiny and general preparation during the day as the excitement built up, and then appearing at the ceremony on the evening in their team colours with their burgees and water from their respective club’s waters to pour into the urn for the mixing of the waters and blessing of the fleet, 102 year-old Lipton Traditions. Vitor Medina, Chairman of Lipton, opened the regatta and John Martin, Commodore of defending club Royal Cape Yacht Club put out the challenge, and the regatta was declared open.

The actual sailing at Lipton Cup takes place over 6 days, this year from Sunday 22nd – Friday 27th August. As is usual with a regatta, it is rare to get in all 6 days’ sailing due to too much or too little wind – last year, the fleet were particularly unlucky to have 3 days’ racing abandoned when the wind died completely on the fleet. The Lipton courses are long courses – twelve nautical miles – and three compulsory courses have to be sailed to constitute the regatta – a windward-leeward/sausage, triangle and trapezoid/rectangle. Thereafter the race officer, who this year was Di Hutton-Squire, can give the fleet whatever course they wish, but they are limited to one race a day of 12 nautical Miles.

Lipton this year was blessed with 6 days of wonderful sailing, mostly in sunny conditions and light winds. The first day’s racing on Sunday 22nd August was definitely in the worst conditions – heavy winds of around twenty knots and over and very big swells. The bridge struggled to get the right course set with the switching wind and first laid a rectangle and then changed it to a sausage, keeping the fleet waiting for close on 2 hours before racing commenced. In the massive swells, this resulted in many very green competitors, and many of the bridge were also seen feeding the fish off the back of the bridge boat and not looking at all motivated to be on the bridge for the day!
The first day of racing’s start was also a rather unfortunate one for many of the teams, as the wind veered around forty degrees just after the start, putting the boats on what-would-have-seemed-to-be the best place on the line, on top of the fleet on starboard, in the worst possible place. Many of the boats who had a terrible start and ended up at the bottom of the fleet at the committee boat end on port, scored a luck and laid the top mark in one beat!
There was much debate after racing as to whether the race should be protested out or not, and much threatening to do so, but in the end no one did and the race held. The two main contenders for the trophy, Colorpress and Intasure, took 1st and 2nd places respectively, but there were some upsets and bad results in the fleet – Finn de Haan and James Largier on the 2nd Intasure Boat and Dominique Provoyeur on Bandito both had bad days on the water due to the wind switch and started the regatta with a result much lower down in the fleet than they would have liked.

Monday’s course was the triangle in light winds around ten knots and again, Colorpress took 1st place and Intasure 2nd. Orion came 3rd and James/Finn on Intasure and Dominique on Bandito made a comeback, coming 4th and 5th respectively.
Tuesday saw the rectangle being sailed and race officer Di Hutton-Squire gave the fleet windward –leewards for the rest of the regatta.
It looked like racing might not happen on Wednesday, and the sailors spend a restful morning sitting around in the sun at RCYC and having a leisurely lunch while Di sat patiently on the committee boat looking for wind – and she did find it  – and a lovely hot sunny afternoon of sailing was achieved towards Bantry Bay, where many of the fleet discovered some tidal challenges!

Despite sailing coaches Andrea Giovaninni and Markus Progli and their FBYC team on Intasure giving Greg Davis and Gareth Blankenberg on Colorpress a real run for their money, and match racing them around the course with huge tenacity each day, Colorpress managed to stay in front on all race days except for the Thursday, where they slipped down to a 4th place, and Kader Williams and Asenathi Jim from Defence Yacht Club on Greenlight took an beautifully-sailed 1st  and Intasure a 2nd place. Orion held their 3rd  place solidly through the regatta, sailing consistently well every day.

Going into the last day’s racing, the cup was still fair game as Colorpress was 3 points ahead of Intasure – and as any sailor knows, anything can happen. The first 11 boats seemed fairly cast in stone. But Intasure had a bad start, and managed to claw their way back to 5th place, but Colorpress came a very solid 1st place, sealing yet another Lipton Victory for Greg and Gareth.

All the sailors agreed that they had a wonderful 6 days’ sailing, and for many of the juniors, it must have been quite an educational week on the water!
The City of Cape Town sponsored a glitzy prizegiving dinner at the Civic Centre, and the teams all made the effort to dress up and add some great decorum to the event, the girls looking particularly lovely.
After a wonderful dinner, everyone went through to RCYC for a much wilder after-party, which went on, in typical yachtie style, to all hours of the morning.

And so, Lipton is now over for another year, and next year’s challenge with bring a fresh set of exciting debates. Andrea and Markus and their team on Intasure will certainly challenge the cup yet again, and there is rumour that Greg might step back and give Colorpress to his son , Leo, to campaign. There is also already much debate as to how many boats will travel to Knysna Yacht Club’s lovely chosen waters of Mossel Bay – The Capetonians are notoriously bad travellers with yachts, and the L26 is a logistical nightmare to tow…
Time will answer all these questions, but it is clear that the L26 is definitely going to still be the boat for Lipton for a few years, and a great competitive one-design boat for the event.

There are always too many people to thank in putting together such a big regatta, but in particular,  a huge well done and thank you must go to the Lipton Trustees, Chairman Vitor Medina and his committee for putting together such a wonderful event, RCYC and all the sponsors for making the event possible, Sailing Chairman Ron Keytel and Race Office Di Hutton-Squire and all the bridge crew, mark layers, marker boats and those who gave up their week so willingly to contribute to such a great 6 days of sailing!