Yachts ready for race from Mauritius to Durban

With the complete fleet of 12 racing and cruising yachts now all assembled in the Le Caudan Waterfront at Port Louis in Mauritius, crews are busy completing preparations for the 1 600-nautical-mile race between the Indian Ocean island and Durban that starts on Saturday from Grand Baie in the north of the island.

The race was last held in 1996 and is one of only two ocean races starting in a foreign port and ending in a South African port. The other is the Vasco da Gama race from Maputo to Durban.

The race, hosted by the Royal Natal Yacht Club, has the full support of the City of Durban and is the city’s anchor event for the month of September.

Of the 12 yachts in the fleet, three are registered with each of the Royal Natal, Point and Royal Cape yacht clubs, while the Algoa Bay, Zululand and Grand Baie yacht clubs each have one.

Speculation is rife as to which yachts are in the picture for the line and handicap honours, and while the Fast 42s are always competitive, there are three boats that stand out above the rest.

The first of these is Warrior, a Simonis 60 big-budget racing yacht and the most powerful yacht in the race, skippered by Rick Nankin and from Algoa Bay Yacht Club.

Snapping at her heels will be Polo Sport Gumption, winner on line and handicap of the recent Vasco da Gama race.

A Fast 40 racer skippered by Nicholas Mace of the Royal Cape Yacht Club, she is the dark horse of the fleet.

Then there is Unleashed of the Royal Natal Yacht Club with Dale Promnitz at the helm. It is a Pacer 42 out of Leisure Yachts Durban that is a stripped-out, very light (5,8-tonne) racing boat built specifically for this race.—Sapa

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