My First Transatlantic – Cape2Rio Race

  • 18 Days at sea
  • 6 Crew
  • 34-foot boat
  • 4000 miles

The Cape2Rio Race started in Cape Town, South Africa on January 4th. This was my first trans-ocean sail so I was extremely excited to get on the water! This was also my first time being South of the equator! As a sailor, I wished my first time crossing the equator was by boat, but with the adventure ahead, I wasn’t complaining! Prior to the start, I had the chance to spend New Years Eve on a boat in the harbour in Cape Town. Being surrounded by thousands of people, the mountains, and a beautiful waterfront area was a surreal feeling for me, with the nerves starting to kick in. The champagne tasted especially good that night as I was constantly pinching myself to make sure it was all real.

Sure enough it was real and though the 37 entered boats we from various different countries, a consistent feeling of hesitation and trepidation was present on every boat.

The weather forecast wasn’t pretty because a Southern-Atlantic low-pressure system was rolling in, and was due to hit Cape Town on start day. Our M34 “Iskareen” was definitely not built to cross-oceans but we had taken extra caution in our preparations to make sure we could handle all that would be thrown at us. We had almost to many spares; to cope with any breakage I could think of. We had enough medical kit to open up a hospital and we had great foul weather gear which would keep us dry in any condition.

The start was magical for me. The sun was beating down in the +30 degree heat. The wind was very light making for an uncommon start to the notoriously windy race. We had a great start with friends and family on another boat that would accompany us a couple of miles offshore. Once they had turned back and all the “good-byes” were said, we started to sort the boat out for what was ahead the storm.

Once we started the nerves died down as survival mode soon took over. The waves were over 6m tall and the wind was around 40 knots. We always made sure we had life jackets on and that we were clipped onto the boat because every once in a while the ocean would to see if we were awake by washing us off the deck. We did, however, break the speed record of 21.5 knots surfing down a wave!

During the storm, several yachts retired. Our thoughts from Iskareen go to the family and friends of the Yacht Billie who unfortunately lost a life. It’s terrible being at sea and hearing about so many of your competitors who are in trouble or finding things difficult. They all remained in our thoughts.

After the storm we were able to dry the boat out which the whole crew was really happy about. No longer did we have to sleep in damp sleeping bags or on wet sails. The odour improved coincidently.

The next week or so was beautiful. Simply put, paradise at sea. The blue of the ocean was captivating with kilometres between the ocean floor and us. One thing we didn’t see much of was wildlife! We saw a few birds and some flying fish but the sights of whales and dolphins we were promised didn’t pan out as we thought it would. Once we got close to Rio, the oil rigs gave us our first sense of civilization. After so many days without seeing anyone else, we were happy to see other boats around, even if they were sounding their horns to chase us away from the huge platforms.

One thing we had trouble with on the last few days was our food and water rations. We had packed light to maximize speed, which meant we had to turn 16 days worth of food, into 18 days! The last four days we all had half meals, which meant we had to conserve our energy. What made things worse was that our water maker was having problems and eventually quit a couple miles from the finish line. Nevertheless we nearly cleared the hotel out of their food when we arrived at 4 in the morning. A club sandwich, fries and beer have never tasted so good.

We managed to hold on to third place as the rest of the fleet finished! A big thank you goes to all our sponsors and race organisers. It was my first trans-Atlantic race and I it was a wonderful privilege to be able to sail with a group of people I both admire and respect so much. Thank you to the owners Christiane and Soenke for asking me to join them on this journey!

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