Local skipper Ryan Gibson has led his team to a stretch of victory in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, making history for South Africa!
Cape Town, South Africa (10 November 2023) — A team led by Capetonian Skipper, Ryan Gibson, have won the South Atlantic stage of a global sailing race!
The team of mixed nationalities dubbed ‘Dare To Lead’ (which has six South African non-professional crew mates) honoured their name with their epic fleet, arriving at Ryan’s home city of Cape Town yesterday morning ahead of other participants part of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
The Clipper Race has over 700 people of all ages participating; from surgeons to police sergeants and teachers. 23 South Africans took to the waters this year, with many having never sailed before (apart from the skippers).
It also happens to be known as one of the toughest endurance challenges on the planet and is the pinnacle of ocean racing. But, for Ryan, extreme conditions are nothing new as this skipper has sailed to some of the most remort ports in the Arctic and has crossed the Atlantic five times.
As the sun rose over Table Mountain yesterday morning, Ryan and the Dare To Lead team sailed across the finish line after racing 3555 nautical miles from Uruguay.
The push over the watery finish line was also a moment for the history books, as this is the first time a South African has won this stretch of the competition which began in 1996.
“This feels unbelievable. It’s sinking in now, and I am super proud of everyone,” said Ryan of the epic moment.
The team had been in second place for the majority of the 19-day race, but with just 48 hours of the voyage to go, they made like the Springboks and unlocked their inner triumph in those final moments (though, the locals on board were some of the only Bokke fans who weren’t able to watch the final).
They secured their triumph through a tactical feature of the race known as Stealth Mode, which allows the teams to become hidden from each other for a 24-hour period before popping back onto the race’s tracker, this time in first place.
“We just wanted to keep fighting and fighting. We learnt from the other legs to just never give up. It’s been a challenging crossing, we had some really high pressure which gave us some good speed, and then [yesterday morning] ended up in a wind hole – so we had a painfully slow and tense finish.
“But everyone is so excited to be here in Cape Town. The South Africans on board have been talking about it so much, so arriving into Table Bay this morning was such a special moment. This is definitely a highlight of my career, and it will be forever.”—Ryan Gibson.
The fleet of eleven Clipper 70 (70 foot) ocean racing yachts will be berthed at the V&A Waterfront until 18 November so the public can tour one of the yachts and see what it is like to live on board. This invitation is accessible from 14-16 November.
Up next for the teams is a big sail across the infamous Roaring Forties from Cape Town to Fremantle before racing around Australia to both Newcastle and Airlie Beach. The next stops on the race route are then Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, Qingdao and Zhuhai, China, Seattle and Washington DC in the USA, before returning to Portsmouth at the end of July next year via Oban, Scotland.