Solidarity, Craziness, and Sport
Published on January 10th, 2019
The Kraken Cup is one of the World’s most adventurous, yet basic, sailing races. And whilst most of us were nursing hangovers on New Year’s Day, an international field of 22 teams (made up of 66 sailors) set sail in the sixth edition of the contest, which, in the modern age of fiberglass hulls and carbon fiber sails, strips things back to basics.
The Cup tests the seamanship of sailors to the max as it races in Ngalawas, traditional African fishing boats whose hulls are carved by hand from mango trees and outriggers lashed on. To add to the adventurous spirit of the race, the course, which is made up of a series of compulsory checkpoints, includes a of couple ‘free-sailing’ sections.
Sailors not only have to contend with the challenges of sailing ngalawas but also find somewhere to sleep for the night – roughing it on uninhabited islets, camping on islands with inquisitive locals or staying in a traditional fishing village. Racers are encouraged to ‘bring a hammock’.
The teams wound its way 500km around the coast of Tanzania, between the Zanzibar Archipelago and the stunning Lindi region. The route takes in some of best sailing in the Indian Ocean and, for the first three days of the race, it appeared some of the calmest sailing too, with little wind and still seas. Then things changed dramatically, with ferocious gusts and big swells rolling in.
The change in weather resulted in numerous capsizes and battered and broken boats and crew, and with one team diverting course to help rescue three local shipwrecked sailors, with only 13 teams remaining in the main race on the final day.
It was Team Village Monde, made up of Canadians Charles and Bastien Mony, a father and son pairing from Quebec, and Gilles Lamire from Brittany in France, who managed to make the most of the treacherous conditions. “The Kraken Cup is the perfect mix of solidarity, craziness and sports,” remarked the winners.
Their ability to handle the primitive boats in rough waters resulted in them crossing the line on January 8 as victors, ahead of Team Southern Exposure from the USA, who just pipped British team Krakin’ Up for second place.