Thirty-nine yachts dashed out of Cape Town harbour on Saturday (13 January) at the start of the 3,500 mile Cape Town to Rio yacht race.
Thirty-nine yachts dashed out of Cape Town harbour on Saturday (13 January) at the start of the 3,500 mile Cape Town to Rio yacht race. Vessels from all around the world were entered into the race. This is only the second time it has been held - the first was in 1971.
While the race was led almost from the opening minutes by the sleek American ketch Ondine - given very good chances of crossing to Rio first - the ship might not be the winner. A complicated handicapping system, grading boats by size, may give the prize of overall winner to one of the small yachts.
Only five kilometres out of the harbour, the race's first casualty was claimed. The only West German entry, HIC III, dropped out after her mast was snapped off in the choppy seas.
An estimated 300,000 spectators watched the start of the race from Signal Hill above Table Bay as the Ondine led the yachts out, followed closely by the South African yacht Mainstay, the British ketch Alaunt of Corfe and the Jakaranda IV, a much-favoured South African entry.
Even the Ondins had problems in the heavy seas - being capsized, but quickly righted, within an hour after setting out.
The entries are hoping to set new records for speed this year. Last time, the winner took over three weeks to reach Rio.
SYNOPSIS: An armada of Ocean racing yachts were gathered in Cape Town's Table Bay on Saturday for the start of the 3,500 mile Cape Town to Rio international race.
A South African entry, "Dabulamanzi"; This British-designed sloop is a fine example of the high standard of the vessels now competing in deep sea racing.
Following the success of the first Cape Town to Rio race two years ago, thirty-nine yachts from all over the world are braving the perils of the South Atlantic in even grander style.
The big yachts have obvious advantages over the smaller ones in terms of sail area, and therefore speed. But a complicated handicapping system grading boats by size, ensures the smaller craft of a chance of success.
Here's "Omuramba", a veteran from the 1971 Rio race, up against new opposition - like this little glassfibre sloop, Bacamarte III of Portugal.
There are two main honours at stake in this three-week ocean battle - the first yacht to cross the Greenwich Meridian, and the overall winner on handicap.