Mossel Bay has been named the venue for the 2011 Lipton Challenge Cup. This will be the first time the prestigious, 100-year old races will grace the Bay that’s been hailed one of the world’s best sailing grounds.
“The Knysna Yacht Club (KYC) won the magnificent and much coveted trophy in 2010, and, under the auspices of the Lipton Trustees, will join hands with the Mossel Bay Yacht and Boat Club to organise the event in the final week of August 2011,” said KYC’s Gayle Newby.
“The Lipton Challenge Cup is an inter-club event in which the winners are granted the right to nominate the venue for the following year’s races,” said South African Sailing’s national training manager, Rob Holden, who bases himself at the Mossel Bay Yacht and Boat Club (MBYBC).
Sir Thomas Lipton gave the silver-gilt Lipton Cup to the Royal Cape Yacht Club (then the Table Bay Yacht Club) in 1909, and, in a letter to the club’s vice-president, Sir Peter Bam, explained that “I have always taken a very great interest in yacht racing and boat sailing, and my earnest wish is that this great sport should be encouraged in South African waters and particularly in regard to deep-water sailing.”
The intention of the Lipton Cup has always been to test sailing skills rather than yacht design: originally open to the so-called 8-metres, the rules were later amended to accommodate the ‘Thirty Squares’ and then the Lavranos-designed ‘Sweet Peas’ of the quarter ton IOR class, before the L26 class was introduced in 1984.
The L26 Owners’ Association rules are clear: “the intent is that all boats will be essentially equal and that racing will be a contest of sailing ability... Except where variations are specifically permitted, yachts of this Class shall be alike in hull, deck, keel, rudder and mast and boom construction, weight and weight distribution, sail plan and equipment.”
Mr. Holden said that the Lipton Challenge is South Africa’s premier sailing event. “It’s the equivalent of the America’s Cup, with almost every club in South Africa - and all the really hot local sailors - usually taking part.”
He said that, although the Club doesn’t have an L26 of its own, Mossel Bay was definitely planning to field an entry. “We might use a boat from Knysna or we may charter one like we did this year - but it will have to be sailed by MBYBC members.”
Ms. Newby said that KYC’s ‘Team Colorpress,’ skippered by Greg Davis and Gareth Blankenberg and sponsored by Colorpress’s Ryan Lotter, took this year’s Cup after six days of thrilling racing in varied wind and sea conditions.
“It was a fantastic spectacle of sailing skills, and the Mossel Bay event will surely be just as exciting,” she said.
Mossel Bay Tourism’s Marcia Holm said that she was delighted that the Knysna Yacht Club - which celebrated its own centenary in August this year - had decided to hold the event in the town.
“Having the Lipton Challenge in Mossel Bay will cement our growing reputation as a sailing destination, and we’re looking forward to hosting it, and helping where we can,” she said.