The sun shone brightly over Cape Town's Table Mountain for today's start of Race 13 in the Clipper 2002 Series - what more could Race Director Colin de Mowbray want? Well, wind would have been first on his list.
Even with the minor hiccup of a breathless deep blue sky, the City of Cape Town did the Clipper fleet proud with one of the best race starts that we have seen so far.
The eight-strong fleet slipped away quietly from the Royal Cape Yacht Club at 10:00 this morning and made for the magnificent Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, where the spectators and race supporters had been gathering for some time. Pansula dancers entertained the crowds to the beat of the Marimba bands, with many other local festivities contributing to the electric atmosphere dockside.
The Clipper crews enjoyed the entertainment with family and friends, before it was finally time for the off. As they slipped their lines leaving the party atmosphere to head for Salvador, it was not with the sense of trepidation that may have been expected.
The weather gods had brought us plenty of sunshine, although hardly a breath of wind. The decision was taken for the race fleet to motor away, leaving the impressive Table Mountain behind them as they set out to find the breeze and perform a 'Le Mans' start.
Cape Town Clipper led the fleet out of Table Bay in brilliant style. After guiding the fleet though echelon formations, skipper Roger Steven-Jennings took the Cape Town yacht and her seven rivals for one final sweep past the two Navy vessels carrying the VIP spectators and his family, before heading out over the horizon.
As we bid farewell to this fantastic country and another superb stopover, the Clipper crews will be looking ahead to their 3,375 nautical mile race to Salvador in Brazil, with many of them harbouring desires to return to Cape Town soon.