Cape2Rio 2023 Joins the Virtual Race – Sail+Leisure
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Cape2Rio 2023 Joins the Virtual Race

by Ingrid Hale
Cape to Rio 2023

The developments of 2020 made it necessary to host virtual regattas, virtual boat shows and virtual racing.     Joining in on this trend, the Cape2Rio Race 2023, and yacht designer Mark Mills have developed an exciting new online platform for virtual racers  – with a custom one-design boat.

The Cape to Rio Race is known for fast sailing around the dominant South Atlantic High Pressure System. This system guards the direct route between Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro. Clever navigation and shrewd tactics are required to win this race.

The first Rio Race took place in 1971 with 16 editions of the race to date. Boats like Pen Duick III & VI, Ondine, Stormy, Morning Glory, Zephyrus, Kwa Hari, Rambler 88, Icap Leopard, Maserati and many more have vied for line honours. The current monohull record stands at 10d 11h 29m 57s held by Maserati a VO70 in 2014. The current multihull record was set in January 2020 at 7d 20h 29m 02s by Ultim Love Water.

50 years on

To commemorate the 50th year since the race’s inception, will be hosting a virtual race commencing 2 January 2021.

The designer of the successful Cape31, Mark Mills has penned a virtual 74 foot boat, the C2R74.                            Mark says, “Our 74’ Cape2Rio2023 design is an exciting development in offshore design, shaped to reflect the unique and legendary Cape to Rio Race. This light-chined design will perform strongly on the long predominantly downwind racetrack. A predominantly downwind track is unusual – in most ocean classics running plays a significant role.”

“The C2R74 is a younger, larger cousin of our standout Cape 31 one-design. They share some DNA, especially in the combination of light displacement, deep draft, and narrow waterline beam for low drag when upright.  Increased IMOCA-derived bow volume reflects the predominantly off-wind bias and ensures a bow-up running trim like her smaller sibling. Control is assured with twin rudders.  The light weight and low wetted surface in VMG downwind- mode promise the fastest elapsed time. The deep draft and added stability from the hull shape when heeled will allow reduced crew numbers as well as the associated weight of gear, food, and stores”.

The sizeable sail plan is designed so that the small crew can continuously get the most from the boat using powered winches. This is done with a furling downwind inventory to reduce the amount of time required on the low windage foredeck.  Small crews sailing very powerful yachts offshore effectively will increase the possibility of breaking elapsed time records in races like the Cape2Rio.

C2R74 Cape2Rio 2023 - virtual racing

Mark has designed many award-winning boats.

How does work? is a non-profit, non-commercial sail-racing navigation simulation run entirely by volunteers. All races are free and each SOLer (a Sailonline racer) gets exactly the same boat. The challenge is navigating through the weather. uses almost real-time weather downloaded from NOAA and the boat physics are considered to be the most life-like of any online simulation. The virtual C2R2023 race will open for pre-race practice on Monday, 28 December 2022.

Existing members of are welcome and anyone interested in racing online can join up on the website  between now and the start of C2R2023.

Two Cape Town based virtual events will be racing the C2R74 for the first time this year – the Round Robben Island Race (sprint championship race) starting at 1600utc on 28 November, and the Cape Town to Port Elizabeth race (SYC championship race) starting at 1600utc on 7 December.

Cape2Rio 2023 C2R74 - virtual racing

The Cape2Rio Race 2023 will commence on 2 January 2023.

Keep up to date with the Cape2Rio Race. 

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