Rio Calling | Cape to Rio Race 2020 – Sail+Leisure
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Rio Calling | Cape to Rio Race 2020

by Ingrid Hale

Entries are open for the next edition of the Cape to Rio yacht race hosted by the Royal Cape Yacht Club.  The Cape to Rio race crosses the South Atlantic Ocean between Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro, linking two of the world’s most beautiful sea ports. The first edition of the race dates back to 1971 with many legends of international yachting having competed in the event.

“The race combines iconic, exotic and historic elements into an incredible cocktail of blue water sailing. Whether you are a hard-core racer, a family cruiser, or an avid adventurer, a memorable voyage awaits” says Race Chairman, Luke Scott. “This race is a South Atlantic classic, connecting Africa with South America, offering an incredible opportunity for the adventure of a lifetime!”

Cape to Rio yacht race 2017

The next edition of the race will be incorporated into the centenary celebrations of the Iate Clube Rio de Janeiro, and entries from Brazil and South America are most especially welcomed to enter.

There will be two starts. The first start is scheduled for 2 January 2020 for cruisers and lower handicapped boats. They will be routed via a compulsory stop at the mid-South Atlantic island of St Helena making it interesting to follow and providing safety in numbers for the cruising community. It is sure to be a popular addition to the race.

The second start, scheduled for 11 January 2020, will be for high speed racers on the higher handicapped boats, which will take a course directly from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro. This route can be more technically challenging as yachts will need to negotiate and navigate the fine line between “cutting the corner” around the South Atlantic High, in a constant dance to save on overall distance sailed, while still keeping sails full in reasonable wind.

Past editions have attracted entries like George David’s Rambler, Hasso Plattner’s Morning Glory, Mike Slade’s Leopard, and Giovanni Soldini’s Volvo 70 Maserati, all in pursuit of the line honours record. The 2017 race was won overall by Stefan Jentzsch’s Carkeek 47, Black Pearl, from Germany. Lion of Africa Vulcan was the first RCYC entry to cross the line, placing third overall and third in IRC Division 1.

Black Pearl screams out of Table Bay at the start of the 2017 Cape to Rio yacht race. Black Pearl won both line honors and IRC Division 1.

There has always been talk about sailing the “other way around” the wind-free South Atlantic high pressure system, especially in the seasons when it has moved further north. But for safety reasons there will be a latitude limit set as to how far south boats may sail.

Boats in both starts are eligible for first place for overall handicap, racing for the South Atlantic trophy for monohulls and for the SAR&H trophy for multihulls. The official race line-honours accolade of the De Beers Line Honours trophy will go to the first boat over the finish line in the second start.

The ORC rating platform will be used to calculate handicap times for monohull entries, and the Texel rating system will be used for multihull entries. The race time limit is set for noon on 1 February 2020.

Response to the Preview to the Notice of Race posted on the Cape to Rio Facebook page, has been very positive. The post reached 7850 people and the page has an ever growing following numbering 5670 at the time of writing.

A number of boats from previous Cape to Rio Races have committed to entering again, and there are very strong indications that the Royal Cape Sailing Academy will enter their own team aboard the refurbished One Tonner, Archangel.

For further information and contact details visit

Pictures: Greg Beadle, Ingrid Hale, Marc Largesse


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