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The Dark Side smash 24 Hour Sailing Challenge Record

Feb 13, 2017
The Dark Side smash 24 Hour Sailing Challenge Record

In 2016, the 24 Hour Sailing Challenge record on the North End Lake was set by Team Sonnet from the Algoa Bay Yacht Club who completed 60 nautical miles in the 24 hour period. The winning team from the Redhouse Yacht Club, 'The Dark Side' won this year's event and smashed the record by sailing 101.5 nautical miles in 24 hours.

Five teams from the Redhouse Yacht Club, two from Algoa Bay Yacht Club, one from the East London Yacht Club and one from NMMU took part in this gruelling challenge which saw these 9 teams - up from 6 last year - pit their wits and stamina against each other in two man boats sailing shifts over 24 hours in winds that were consistently above 15 knots and gusting 30 knots whilst one team paddled for 24 hours.

Saturday saw the boats sailing a port around, anti-clockwise course from opposite the EP Powerboat Club to a mark off of Milner Avenue, reaching to a mark off of the corner of Coca Cola and then straight back to the EP Powerboat Club. The easterly wind was consistent and in the teens up until 10:00 pm when the wind shifted to the west and the boats changed direction to sail a starboard around clockwise course.

The gybe mark saw many boats capsize as they rounded the mark in the dark with the wind gusts from the Northern side of the North End Lake catching many exhausted crews unawares.

Sailing in the dark at 3:00 am caught one of the Sonnet teams - 'Mommy's Darlings' - unaware as they capsized close to the pump house and were washed onto the rocks and out of the race.

The youth team - 'Windpower' sponosored by green energy company Metrowind and consisting of sailors from Parsons Hill and Herbert Hurd Primary Schools sailed two rounds of the course and elected to wait out the strong winds on the course. Unfortunately for them the strong winds never abated and they got to spend time swimming and relaxing in the waters of the North End Lake.

The first five teams home all sailed further than the winning team of 2016:

  1. The Dark Side from RYC sailed a Sonnet to cover 101.5 nautical miles,
  2. Poppet Party Boat from RYC sailed a Sonnet to cover 98.4 nautical miles,
  3. Too Unorganised  from ABYC sailed a Sonnet to cover 98 nautical miles,
  4. Mulmeds from ELYC sailed a Mirror to cover 74.1 nautical miles, and
  5. Full of Sheet from  AbYC sailed a Laser Pico to cover 98.4 nautical miles.

From the deck: Sailing in the 'Full of Sheet' team of nine sailors were the Algoa Bay Yacht Club's President, Sean Wiseman; Commodore, Alan Straton and his wife, Glynnis. Straton said; "To have Glynnis come out of 'retirement' and sail with me was special and we proved that we have not lost that innate understanding required between crew of actions needed to keep the dinghy pointed in the right direction and moving. Now, to find a slightly bigger boat for next year's event to accommodate both of us on the rail at all times!"

The lone paddling Team from the NMMU Emergency Medical Care depertmen succeeded in beating their existing record of 70.97 nautical miles by paddling 73.40 nautical miles along the shores of the North End Lake in the 24 hours.

Algoa Bay Yacht Club 'Full of Sheet' team members Mark Dawson and Ashleigh Johnson sail to the start of the 2017 RYC 24 Hour Sailing Challenge held in the shadow of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on the North End Lake from 11 to 12 February. Photo: Alan Straton

Redhouse Yacht Club Sailing Commodore, Tim Jones said; "What RYC believe is unique about the event is the two-handed boat requirement which encourages many junior sailors and novice crews to pair up with experienced skippers. This is attractive for people who may not have their own double handed dinghy or enjoy the chance to try out different boats to the one they usually sail. The teens find this event quite fun – not least of which that they get to stay up all night with full permission from their parents, it is a fairly competitive event and some friendly banter and rivalry happens on and off the water."

Commenting on the weather Jones said; "The weather was far more robust than the previous event, with windspeeds gusting up to 30 knots. The result was that the winning team almost doubled last event’s winning distance, with a total of 101.5 nautical miles (188 km). The combined distance travelled by all craft in the regatta was 593.5 nautical miles (963 km)."

The North End Lake, shadowed by the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is the perfect venue for such an event as it presents relatively safe waters, with controlled access and good course visibility.

Supporting their youth scholars at the event were Parsons Hill Principal, Clinton Sadler and Herbert Hurd sports coach Darryl Garner. Garner has a passion for youth and development and is currently busy with a Lotto Funded programme to introduce children to sailing. His passion and commitment to his young charges is evident in the great respect accorded him.

A planned youth sailing league in two person 420 dinghies is expected to create great impetus for this 24 hour challenge in 2018 as even more youth are taught to sail. The Eastern Cape is seeking one more Olympic Sailor join son of Fort Beaufort, Asenathi Jim, who sailed his second Olympics in Rio De Janeiro at the helm of a 470 with crew Roger Hudson in 2016.

Main image: The 2017 24 Hour Sailing Challenge Winning Team, 'The Dark Side' from Redhouse Yacht Club are Adam Jones, Time Jones, Meghan Jones, Charlie Hills, John McGillivray, Jamie McGillivray, Charles Young (back) and Adam Young. Photo: Alan Straton