The South African America's Cup Yacht Shosholoza will once again be a familiar sight in Cape Town's Table Bay after being away in Europe for the past three months. The boat has arrived back in her home town.
Members of Team Shosholoza will be assisting with the moving of the yacht to the V&A Waterfront by floating crane where she will be lifted onto the quayside at the team's new permanent base (between the Cape Grace Hotel and the BOE headquarters and flanked by the fishing boat fleet.) Yacht Shosholoza left South Africa by ship early in August and the team followed to compete in the Marseille Louis Vuitton Act 1 in September.
The regatta marked the return of the America's Cup to Europe for the first time in 153 years and presented an incredible opportunity for Team Shosholoza to measure themselves against the giants of the America's Cup - the Cup Defenders, the Swiss Team Alinghi, the USA's BMW Oracle Team Racing, Emirates Team New Zealand and the two French teams K-challenge and Le Defi were all in Marseille.
In October the team moved to Valencia in Spain - the host city for the America's Cup in 2007 - for the first of the Spanish regattas, the Valencia Louis Vuitton Acts 2 and 3. The same America's Cup teams were again competing in these events plus two Italian teams - Luna Rossa and +39.
Team Shosholoza made her mark and earned the respect of her competitors at these debut events, despite being the new kids on the block and sailing an older, slower yacht. The regattas form part of the new format America's Cup - which will see a series of "Acts" in different venues around Europe in the next few years leading up to the "final story" of the America's Cup proper in 2007.
Following Valencia the team had a well earned two week break - some of whom remained in Europe to travel further while others couldn't wait to get home. Team Shosholoza will be operating out of their new "SA America's Cup Challenge Base" in the V&A Waterfront from today (Monday 8 November).
Until now the team worked out of a couple of containers in the Waterfront where meetings and all activities were held in the open air. The new base has a mini sail loft, office space, a kitchen, showers and an upstairs entertainment area and deck overlooking the V&A. The quayside is spacious with ample space for yacht Shosholoza RSA 48 to be lifted out of the water daily.
The team will spend the first week of November match racing on local 26 foot yachts as skipper Geoff MEEK and three crew members, Guido VERHOVERT, Alex RUNCIMAN and Marc LAGESSE, leave at the weekend for the next ISAF Grade 1 Match Racing Event. This event, the Nippon Cup, will be held in Tokyo, Japan. The rest of team will re-rig Shosholoza RSA 48 and prepare her for sailing from the 16th and get her back up to racing mode by the 24th November when the others return from Japan.
Sailing manager Paul STANDBRIDGE says he will continue to try out 2 new crew members per week and is still looking to build the team by 6 sailors prior to Act 4 in Europe in June 2005. He is specifically looking for 4 crew weighing 105kg's each to help give more muscle power to the sailing crew.