|Barco "City of Cape Town", campeão da regata Cape Town Rio. Fonte: Africa Geographic.|
Heineken Cape to Rio : Long haul to the podium for Gerry Hegie
Sunday, 06 February 2011
Winning the South Atlantic Race has long been a dream for Gerry Hegie, the skipper of City of Cape Town. Gerry has sailed in the race three times, twice as skipper. In the 2009 race he skippered a crack 30-footer, but broken rudders foiled that attempt. This time his preparation was intense.
When ocean racer "JJ" Provoyeur offered the use of his 41-foot boat, Gerry and his sailing mates spent a month of 12-hour days sanding the hull and keel and rudder to a satin finish, taking weight out of the boat, and overhauling all the systems, steering, electrical, rigging, the works.
Hegie, who works with his father as a diver scrubbing weed off yacht hulls, is not afraid of hard work. "I think this race is about 90% preparation of the boat."
"We took the boat apart, we didn't want any gear failures, and we needed to be able to push the boat hard." Even when past the half-way mark at one point City of Cape Town was just 27-miles behind Prodigy, a hi-tech yacht nearly 13-foot longer.
Provoyeur himself reckons the boat has never been in better shape. "The guys did all the things that I had never had the time and energy to do. Gerry is sailing an amazing race, he has a very mature approach." How did he manage to read the weather so well? "I spent over a month looking at the weather files, looking at the best routes, seeing how actual weather had matched forecasts."
An added responsibility was to take on four crew members from Project Grael, an initiative similar to Izivunguvungu which helps youngsters from impoverished backgrounds through sailing. Only one of them, team leader Samuel Goncalves, spoke English.
Sensibly Gerry divided the crew into South African and Brazilian watches, and set them to competing which of the two could do the best mileage. "Sam and I shared the helm in the tougher stuff, and the other guys in the lighter airs."
"But they are all very good sailors, Alex (Alex Sandro Mattos) as bowman was superb. He was out on the end of the pole every time we did a sail change, unclipping the old kite, and clipping in the new."
"We were always peeling (changing) sails to keep on the pace. It was hard work, but we never had a bad word, no conflict at all, " says Hegie, then grins. "Except when I stamped my foot when the changes were too slow."
But even the best-laid plans can go astray, especially at sea. About 1000-miles from Rio th solenoid on the starter motor failed. That meant no engine to charge the batteries, and no power for the water-maker.
"But we had some water in hand, and emergency supplies in the bilges. I briefed the guys, and we limited ourselves to 250 ml in the morning and again at night. They were all very disciplined."
Gerry Hegie lost 15 kg in body-weight, and the others all looked leaner. After sitting in calms for three hours, when City of Cape Town crossed the line near under Sugarloaf, their was a chorus of vuvuzelas, and cheers and shouts from the families and supporters of the Brazilian crew, and the jostle of media and TV crew. It was an emotional moment.
"Yes, it was worth it just for that. It was a great moment, I had a great team." says Hegie.
Fonte: BYM Sailing and Sports News