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Governors' Cup 2010 - From Capetown To St. Helena

By Sue Richards last modified Mar 31, 2010 09:05 AM

Published: 2010-03-31 09:05:20
Topics: Rallies
Countries: South Africa , St Helena


The Governor’s Cup is a 1700 mile – usually downwind, yacht race from Cape Town in South Africa, to James Bay on St. Helena Island. To make things even more interesting, this year’s race will be starting from False Bay Yacht Club in the quaint naval town of Simonstown and will have the added thrill of rounding the beautiful but dangerous Cape Point very early in the race.

Entries range from serious racing boats to cruising boats crewed by families and friends. Although this handicap race, which is open to yachts of any size, is a chase across the South Atlantic, the accent is on fun and camaraderie and, once the destination has been reached, the competitors can enjoy an activity-filled stay on the rugged but beautiful island. Some yachties choose to continue their cruise to other destinations, but the beauty of this race is that the rest of the sailors have a choice – either sail back to the Cape or return reclining in the comfort of a deckchair, sipping cocktails on board the extremely affordable, yet luxurious 7000ton cargo/passenger ship, the RMS St. Helena!

This exciting race first took place in 1996 and has since been held every two years. It is organised by False Bay Yacht Club in Simonstown, in conjunction with St.Helena Yacht Club and is supported by the SA Navy, the Governor of St. Helena, and the commmunity of Simonstown.

What makes the race unique is, that families and supporters of the sailors can enjoy a trip to the island on the RMS St Helena, meet up with the contestants, have a short fascinating holiday and then all return home on the RMS St. Helena – with the yacht on board as well!

This year’s Governor’s Cup Race will start on the 1st December 2010 from False Bay. Activities, functions and events will be organised in Simonstown, for the days preceding the start. The village will be a hive of activity and the public will get the opportunity to hear the SA Naval Band, catch up on the history of Simonstown, enjoy exploring the interesting shops and listen to the fascinating stories of Simonstown’s famous live mascot – the loyal dog “Just Nuisance”. All this will be available for onlookers to enjoy, while the yachts receive their final checks and make their last minute preparations.

The RMS will leave Cape Town on the 4th December and will no doubt pass some of the yachts on her way to St. Helena. This year the yachts will be escorted by a support yacht, which will be available to offer any assistance if necessary. The race normally takes 8 – 14 days and culminates in a cocktail party at the Governor of St. Helena’s residence on the island. A public prizegiving follows and is usually attended by most of the extremely friendly islanders – known as “Saints”! Once the festivities are over, the returning yachts are loaded onto the RMS St. Helena and she sets sail for Cape Town.

Those passengers lucky enough to be returning on this trip will experience a nautical Christmas on board the ship.One wonders what Xmas surprises the crew will serve up for their passengers – let alone the delicious cuisine! Now there is something to look forward to – Xmas aboard a ship! The ship will arrive back in Cape Town on the 28th December 2010 – home in time for the New Year celebrations!

The diversity and uniqueness of this race makes it a never-to-be-forgotten experience for young and old – for anyone!

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