I’ve just returned from the 2013 Cape Fling regatta in Cape Town. Sailed the new Cape Fling, a Kerr 46 recently built at McConaghy Boats in China. Great boat, well built and finished, nice deck layout and controls, good balance, good upwind performance, and some exciting speeds off wind.
The weather in Cape Town is wild, with some incredibly strong winds. In the week that I was there, it blew between 20-40kts each day! And sailing in Table Bay can be quite tricky, with the wind often fighting between the Southeasterly and Southwesterly, on either side of Table Mountain, and sometimes with a void in between the two winds.
Race one was 20-30 kts and an 8 leg zig zag around Table Bay. Our closest competition was the GP 42 Puma, so we used them as our benchmark. We were able to put our time plus some on them upwind, and just hold on them downwind, and won by 3 minutes. Race two was a lottery, with the two winds fighting each other, and a void in the middle moving around. We sailed a good race, worked out a nice lead, only to have the wind shuffle the fleet on the final leg, giving us a 4th. The final race was a 2 mile windward/leeward, 4 laps, started in the lee of Table Mountain where the RC could anchor, and then a solid 25-35 kts on the race course. We had a great start, hit the wind line, and took off downwind. After 2 laps and building a good lead, we had a crew error and lost our spinnaker over the side, and had to cut everything away to avoid damaging the boat and rig. We deemed it unwise to continue racing with the new boat partially damaged in these extreme conditions, so retired from the race. This dropped us to 4th in the overall standings, but not bad considering. It was a great lesson for a new team and the boat showed it has potential. The team will need to work on some boat handling issues and learn how to drop spinnakers in the extreme high winds they often get. But they have a great boat to challenge them, and reward them with some great rides once they have it tamed.
After traveling for over 2 days to get there, I decided to spend a few extra days exploring and enjoying the country. Wild is the one word I have for the place. Wild weather, scenery, hikes, and animal life were the moments and images I came away with. And I loved it.