Our Sojourn South

Sailing Lucky Lady in the Mykonos Offshore Regatta 2022 – Frank Stuyck

As they say “the shoemaker’s children don’t have shoes to wear” and so it was with me. We had entered the Mykonos Offshore regatta and it was a battle to get my new ( second hand ) yacht, Lucky Lady, ready for the regatta. And then I did what I tell everyone else not to do – we left for Royal Cape Yacht Club in Cape Town without having done any sea trails!!!

Monday 14 Feb was also the last possible time from a weather window perspective to go and we elected to do an overnight passage. My son Etienne and his girlfriend, Perrine offered to go with me.((Errr… can’t remember if they offered or if they were coerced !! )

So, that afternoon at 3 pm we cast off and were greeted at the mouth with a lovely 12-knot south-westerly wind. So, sails up and we had our first and very pleasant sail across the bay. By the time we got to Britannia Bay we were hard on the wind and started the motor and motor-sailed through the night to Cape Town. We arrived early in the morning and soon we were tied up, had some breakfast before our lift took us back to Port Owen.

Thursday afternoon we did the reverse. Back to Royal Cape Yacht Club to prepare for the race. Little did I know I would get stuck on the deck at the Club with the pirates of Point Blank and the Lospote aka the crew on Footloose.  So quite a couple of beers later we attended the skippers briefing and weather update. Sometime later my crew, Patrick Knobel, and my sons, Jean-Paul and Etienne arrived, had more beer, supper and we went to bed. Friday Morning dawned beautiful with a fair breeze. Soon we were out of the harbour and at 8h30 our start gun sounded and off we were to Mykonos. Us and another 75 yachts.

Kevin on Banjo passed by quite close and quite quickly and was reveling in the conditions.

We seemed to be holding our own and elected to sail a course close to the shore and this seemed to pay off. At Blaauwberg beach we needed to tack to port and still, we looked good compared to the other yachts in our class. Our calculations showed that at the current speed we would be in Mykonos by 7 pm.

At this point, I must mention that we were about 15 yachts in Class C and while 12 were of similar speed, age, etc. there were also two sport-boats in our class. These yachts weigh about a third of what our yacht does but have the same waterline length. Off the wind, they fly and why they were in our class nobody knows.

Anyway, we were holding our own against the rest of our class and at some point, my crew remarked that we were clearly catching a group of yachts ahead of us. Little did we know they were stuck in a hole ( an area of no wind ) and soon the hole had us too!!!! In these totally windless conditions just keeping your yacht pointed in the right direction is an art in itself and some yachts around us were pointing to shore, then back at Cape Town, and so on. This was near Grotto Bay and there we were parked in the hole for about an hour. Very frustrated and to add insult to injury some of the competitors in our class sailed past us, in wind, only about 2 km seaward.

Eventually, some wind came through and we were sailing again. We managed to claw our way back and pass the two yachts that were seaward of us and now the calculations began anew. So, we had lost an hour and now with a light wind and slower progress, a finish time of about 10 pm was predicted. Still ok as the cut-off time for the fleet was midnight.

BUT alas the weather gods had other plans and just short of Dassen Island the wind dropped to nothing again. Again, we sat and drifted, and again we began to look at the weather charts. Windguru, Windfinder, Windy you name it they were looked at but it seemed the wind was not going to come back that day. Some more calculations and it soon became apparent that unless we had reasonable wind we would not make the cut-off time.

So, on with the motor and a WhatsApp to race control that we were retiring from the race. A little further we motored past the pirates on Point Blank and after a chat on the radio, they also retired. The Lospote on Footloose had taken a more seaward course and were ahead and in some wind. Mmmm… would they keep it and finish……. But alas no they also lost the wind and eventually, two-thirds of the entire fleet retired.

Upfront, however, Kevin and crew on Banjo were at the sharp end of the fleet and while it got lighter managed to stay with the wind and get a third over the line and first in class – Multihull. JC Knobel who crewed on the longest yacht in the fleet came a credible 2nd over the line and 4th in Class A. We eventually docked at 8 pm and found a berth next to the pirates on Point Blank.

Then with our family as shore crew we were off for some beer, sushi, and wine and then straight to bed. Saturday dawned with some mist and a nice breeze from the northwest. The Bay race is a pursuit race where the slower yachts started first followed by the bigger faster yachts.

BUT as we got to the start line the wind decided to once again disappear. However, our name was called over the radio to start and soon we got our start signal and were drifting again. So, while the yachts slower than us were about a hundred meters in front of us we were again only a short distance in front of yachts faster than us. After about 30 minutes of this, a ± 8-knot northwester came through and we were off. We quickly passed the yachts in front of us and led the fleet around the first and second marks. Then second around the third mark and about 6th around the fourth. Then we lost count.

By the sixth mark, the wind had increased, and Point Blank was on our tail with Banjo coming through at speed. Banjo passed us both and sped off in the distance while we kept pace with Point Blank and as we went around Jutten Island we managed to pass them. On exiting the Island channel we saw everyone ahead taking down their spinnakers and took ours off too. Point blank kept theirs up and while sailing on the edge managed to get through and they passed us again. Then it was back into the bay and around two more marks and to the finish. Point Blank finished about five minutes ahead of us and as we had a side bet with them, they are now two bottles of rum richer.

We are however in a different class to Footloose and Point Blank and except for the two sport-boats we managed to keep the rest of our class behind and finished third in class and made the podium on our first attempt. So not too bad as this was literally the first time we had sailed Lucky Lady except for about two hours on the delivery trip to Cape Town.

Kevin on Banjo however had one of his best days sailing. He overtook the entire fleet and crossed the line first. He won so many prizes we offered to help him carry the silverware to his car !!!!!!

So ended a great weekend of sailing and as they say till next year !!!

Five yachts from Port Owen took part in the regatta:

Lucky Lady Frank Stuyck Class C

Banjo Kevin Webb Class Multihull

Footloose Blokkies Loubser / Derek Robinson Class B

Point Blank Gunnar Heiberg Class B

Ciao Bella Ryan Robinson Class B