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County’s favorite sailor in legendary Cape to Rio race

Sandy-Cape2Rio-start-TW

The Cape2Rio race begins in Cape Town, under sunny skies on Jan. 4, 2014. – Trevor Wilkins photo

View of the tracker available on the Cape2Rio website showing the surviving boats as they progress across the south Atlantic.

View of the tracker available on the Cape2Rio website showing the surviving boats as they progress across the south Atlantic.

UPDATE: Congratulations to team ISKAREEN on finishing in 3rd place (out of 37 entrants) in the 2014 Cape to Rio race

The County’s Sandy Macpherson is participating in one of the world’s oldest, longest and toughest ocean races – The Cape to Rio – from Cape Town, South Africa to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Thirty-seven yachts cast off from Cape Town  Saturday, Jan. 4 for the 3300nm race, with teams representing eight countries.

By the evening, seven boats were reporting mast, steering, engine and other problems as winds of to 50 knots and 5m seas set in. One yacht was dismasted in the gales. Four of its crew were injured and one later died.

The boats and crews vary widely from the professional crew on the multi-million dollar Maserati-sponsored Volvo 70; to small cruising boats, crewed by families.

While Maserati is expected to win “line honours” and break the all-time speed record for this south Atlantic passage; all boats compete for “overall honours” under a handicap system that evens out the disparity in boat size and design.

Macpherson’s boat is among the favourites to finish well. There are six crew on board the 34’ “Iskareen”. Three sailors (including the boat owners) are from Germany. One sailor is from Switzerland, another is from South Africa. Sandy Macpherson, 20, is the sole Canadian. The six sailors take two-hour shifts driving the boat, supporting the boat and sleeping.

On the non-stop trek across the South Atlantic, the trick has been to follow the route of the trade winds and avoid the doldrums that move around the centre of the South Atlantic, which is astride the most direct route to Rio.

As the boat approaches the Equator (from the south) the crew has been able to break out their T-shirts and shorts. They do everything they can to maximize boat speed but there are a few distractions. Macpherson did manage to break the boat’s speed record to 21.75 knots with the heavy weather jib and full main sail.

Sandy with a small flying fish.

Sandy with a small flying fish.

A sleepy sea-bird flew into their mast and fell onto the boat deck, but ultimately shook itself off and resumed its flight. They’ve had a few flying fish land on board but none big enough to cook. The crew relies on dehydrated food and a water-maker for the entire voyage.

“As we did not all know each other until two days before the start we have
been getting a long really well despite the difficult circumstances,” says the first report on Iskareen’s Facebook page. “Everyone has pulled their weight, expressed their limits and filled in for those who have been occupied fixing bits and bobs.  It has been a fabulous six days. Well done to everyone on board. Now that the weather has improved we will try to upload more stories on a regular basis.”

“Maserati” is expected to arrive in Brazil on the 14th of January. “Iskareen” hopes to lead the smaller boats into port around the 18th.

Last year, Macpherson raised more than $15,000 for the Cancer Society with a solo “Sail for a Cure” around Lake Ontario.

This time last year, he was preparing to participate, as part of a British crew, in a sailing race that toured the major port cities of the Arabian Gulf. That team ended 10 races with five podium finishes against some of the best sailing professionals in the world.

The crew of 'Iskareen' taken the day before the race from Cape Town, South Africa. Sandy Macpherson at far right.

The crew of ‘Iskareen’ taken the day before the race from Cape Town, South Africa. Sandy Macpherson at far right.

Macpherson, the son of Ian and Wendy, was introduced to sailing at the Prince Edward Yacht Club summer youth program. He is in his final year studying navigation and maritime science B.Sc. (Hons.) program at the University of Plymouth, UK.

Sandy was at home over Christmas, flying in from  Cape Town via London and Munich. Since, the internet has helped mom, dad, brother Patrick and many friends and supporters to keep an eye on Sandy.

“Modern technology is wonderful,” said Ian. “I can’t believe that we can watch Sandy’s boat’s position, updated hourly; trade short e-mails, and view and share photos of his progress.  It’s a real comfort.  Many of our friends who follow Sandy’s progress, complain that the boat tracking website is addictive.”

Results and many of the yacht blogs are gripping reading on www.cape2rio2014.com. As of day nine (Monday), it looked as if Maserati will break the race record of 12 days, 16 hours and 49 minutes set in 2000, “but the sea is a cruel place and anything can happen in those closing miles.”

Sandy’s team has a Facebook page that can be reached via www.iskareen.com https://www.facebook.com/iskareen

Those interested in enrolling their sons or daughters at PEYC for this summer can contact them at (613) 476-5585, by e-mail at info@peyc.ca and on the PEYC website

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  1. Ian Macpherson says:

    Congratulations to team ISKAREEN on finishing in 3rd place (out of 37 entrants) in the 2014 Cape to Rio race.

  2. Ian Macpherson says:

    The six crew members of ISKAREEN are:

    Christiane Dittmers (GER) Skipper
    Soenke Bruhns (GER) Navigator
    Christian Halbig (GER)
    Phillipa Hutton-Squire (SAF)
    Loic Forestier (SWI)
    Sandy Macpherson (CAN)

    Thanks for the great article!

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