Rough seas challenge epic cats

Having cleared the harbour entrance, the fleet turns and heads south towards Durban Photo: Dave Savides

SEA conditions took their toll in the annual 200km Richards Bay–Durban Epic on Saturday.

The event started with a field of nine entries: four Hobie Tigers, four Darts and one Nacra F 20 carbon.

‘It started as a two-day journey, stopping over in Zinkwazi, but launching on the second day was very hazardous any many boats never made it, so it became a single day event,’ said organiser Malcolm Gibson.

The strong north-easter dictated the direction and with safety paramount, crews, well monitored by the NSRI and rubber duck rescue crews, carried additional GPS tracking devices.

‘This year the NSRI asked each competitor to download a free application called RSA SAFE TRX to their mobile phones as added safety.

‘The Darts started at 7am from the Zululand Yacht Club with the remainder of the fleet heading out at 8am.

‘Our first capsize happened in the harbour mouth when Mark and John on the Nacra went over,’ said Malcolm.

‘The first casualty was around 11.50am when the Dart of Lawrence Haw and Daniel Coetzer beached at Amatikulu Nature Reserve, having run out of energy.

‘Next onto the beach at Tinley Manor was the pair who were leading the fleet home, Lee Hawkins and Kyle Bowman, with a smashed rudder gudgeon.

‘They managed to replace the broken part then promptly smashed the other one when trying to re-launch, and retired.

‘Mark Nicholls and John on the Nacra broke their one rudder off Tugela Mouth so retired at Zinkwazi.

‘This left Mark Knopel and Ewald on their Tiger fighting off Dylan Alberts and Mike Goodyear, also on board a Tiger, for line honours.

‘Mark went inshore at Umglanga Rocks with Dylan going offshore and eventually Dylan took line honours and a handicap win over Mark.

‘Rob Samways finished at sunset at 6.51pm with a Dart full of water.’

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