Lipton Challenge Cup 2022 – Sail+Leisure
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Lipton Challenge Cup 2022

by Ingrid Hale
Winning the Lipton Challenge Cup is never easy, but winning it twice in consecutive years certainly places skipper Davey James and his crew up there with the best in the history of the Cup. Richard Crockett reported live every day from the race course in conditions ranging from the worst the Cape winter has to offer, to the best it has to offer. We’ve compiled a snippet of what went down in this toughly-contested event.
Cape 31’s lead the way

Sailing for the Royal Natal Yacht Club aboard the Cape 31, Orion DYP, Davey James and his crew, which included veteran Lipton Cup sailor, Mark Sadler, simply appeared to be the fastest on the water in almost every race. They converted that speed into four consecutive wins after a shaky start on the first day.

“I want to say thank you to Ellian who owns this boat and who put our team together,” said Mark. “It’s 22 years ago since I won my first regatta with him here. It was my first Lipton Cup on his boat, so it is pretty special for me, and that is what I take away from this. It’s also fantastic for Royal Natal Yacht Club to win it again”, he continued.
In the Lipton Challenge Cup consistency is what wins The Cup, and RNYC showed that unequivocally. Being second by a mere two seconds in the penultimate race, and winning the final race was further proof of their superiority. Sadly for them they took a scoring penalty in the final race to forfeit their win after they were protested for allegedly touching a mark-rounding buoy.
Apart from the opening day when they were not in the mix, that scoring penalty was their only blemish in eight finely contested races in which no quarter was ever given.


Close contenders

Runners-up were the Walvis Bay Yacht Club sailing a Cape 31, MB Racing, under skipper Bjorn Geiger. In the 2019 contest they showed glimpses of brilliance which they could never convert to race-winning positions. Last year they missed the contest, and came back firing this year, as a serious threat in every single race. They only managed to win one race, but had a string of five second places to their credit. Should they continue with their upward trajectory the Lipton Cup may well be contested off Walvis Bay one day!
“I think the previous campaign in 2019 was definitely an introduction, we had a very good team, we had a very good ‘gees’ (spirit) on the boat, but we were missing a bit of experience. This year we came back, we traded off some of the elements that we had before and then gained some of the other elements in the form of experience, patience and so forth, so we were right there on the top and it is just a couple of seconds that separate the top, so we are quite happy to be in the mix”, said Bjorn.


Filling the final podium place was the Aeolians Club represented by Philip Baum on the Cape 31, Nemesis. His team have a reputation for leaving their best to last as they won the final race in the last two contests, and while hoping to make that three in a row, they won the penultimate race, putting paid to winning that personal goal. Baum had the oldest competitor aboard as his tactician, plus the youngest crew, all of whom were under the age of 30.
“It couldn’t have been more fun, boat for boat was just incredible. The first race we went around just ahead of every mark and then we fell back, we lost at different times on the different legs, we lost coming in on the last beat, and then we came back again. The second one, there was a lot of lead swopping, as well, but gee, three boats alongside each other for an hour and 20 minutes it was give no quarter, take no quarter it was great fun. Our team – none of whom is over the age of 30 really came to the party – just to have the youth and enthusiasm on the boat is a sheer joy of the regatta for us,” said Philip.

The new style of competition

The Lipton Cup has always been raced on one-design yachts, but this year saw the beginning of a two-year trial using the international ORC handicapping system to enable a diverse range of yachts to compete equally. However, this only drew an entry of 5 boats.
The jury is still out as to whether this worked as well as expected, but until results are analysed and a full debrief is conducted, it’s anyone’s guess.
The handicapping system did bring with it some challenges. Rick Nankin, the tactician aboard Royal Cape Yacht Club’s Farr 38,  Jackal, said that by almost sailing against themselves, he personally believes that these were the most perfect races he had ever sailed in his long Lipton Cup career.
“Each race we sailed was absolutely perfect in every respect of tactics, sail trim, manoeuvres and every single aspect that goes into a race. We had one blemish in eight races and left nothing on the race course”, said Rick.
The same may be said for the False Bay Yacht Club team sailing the Lavranos 34 MOD, Intasure Challenger led by Allan Lawrence. They too put in an almighty effort, and also had some “perfect” races, but a few mistakes at times cost them and kept them out of the mix.
“We really struggled in the heavy wind and the swell, the boat is quite hard to sail in that big swell and in a lot of wind, we had 35knots at the top, and we were quite out of control. And in the first race we couldn’t find the one wing mark, it was a disaster, so we ended up sailing double distance than anyone else. We could have done better”, said Allan.


This year’s event may not go down as the best contest ever, but what made history was the closeness of the racing especially amongst the top three, with position changes on every leg, sublime tactical racing, and excellent boat handling.
Pictures by Matt Du Toit
Read about the very tight 2021 event sailed on Cape 31’s in Langebaan.

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