Progress in South Africa

Published on August 21st, 2017

Amid our confusing sport, with countless boat types promoting various championship titles, there is the Lipton Cup. But not just one Lipton Cup. There are more Lipton Cups than anyone knows.

Sir Thomas Lipton, well-known tea merchant and avid yachtsman, had a habit of donating Lipton Cups to many yacht clubs around the globe where he had trade interests. There are now a lot of them, but there is only one Lipton Cup event with the coveted website:

That would be Lipton Challenge Cup Regatta, sailed on Table Bay in Cape Town, South Africa.

It is the most prestigious sailing event in the South African Calendar, with its history going back to 1909 when Sir Thomas donated the sterling silver trophy and the Deed of Gift of the Lipton Challenge Cup to the Table Bay Yacht Club – now the Royal Cape Yacht Club.

The first Lipton Challenge Cup was raced in South Africa in 1911, and this year marks the 64th time that the regatta will be sailed. It is an inter-club event, with yacht clubs across the country entering teams with the aim of winning and bringing the Challenge home to their nominated coastal waters the following year.

Since 1984, the regatta has been sailed on 26-foot yachts called the L26, designed by South Africa Naval Architect Angelo Lavranos.

Sailing in South Africa has traditionally been an elitist sport for the privileged white class, but in recent years, a heart-warming development, especially evident in the Lipton Challenge Cup, now boasts many sailors of colour, as well as women sailors and an all-woman team.

Sailing is a sport in SA which has worked hard to improve its accessibility, and now enjoys the participation of juniors, women and sailors from previously disadvantaged communities. Many of these newly introduced people have joined the ranks of South Africa’s top sailors through their initiation to the sport in many development sailing programs.

Equally exciting for South Africa is the accomplishment of Benji Daniel and Alex Burger, who travelled to the USA and toppled the 129-boat fleet to win the 29er World Championship, one of the gateway boats to the Olympic Games.

Improved accessibility at the bottom and significant achievement at the top. Look out world, South Africa is coming.

Source: Kirsten Veenstra, Scuttlebutt

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