With just a few weeks to go until the starter’s gun fires for the 2023 Cape2Rio, the Alexforbes ArchAngel team is putting final touches to their boat and packing for the race across the South Atlantic Ocean.
Alexforbes ArchAngel crew, from the Royal Cape Yacht Club Sailing Academy, comprises skipper Sibusiso Sizatu (30), first mate Daniel Agulhas (29), Renaldo Tshepo Mohale (29), Thando Mntambo (23), Azile Arosi (22) and Justin Peters (21).
Onerous amounts of paperwork have been completed, new sails hoisted and inspections completed, but preparing to sail 3 300 nautical miles aboard a tiny vessel takes mental as well as physical preparation. The team has completed enneagram personality tests to gain personal self-knowledge and do ongoing self-development. “You mentally pace yourself to spend a long time out at sea,” Sizatu said. “We know we are in for the long haul – between 24 and 27 days.”
The crew, all passionate about sailing, was selected due to their commitment to the Academy programme as well as their experience. “Azile, for example, has a 100% attendance rate for the past three years,” said Jennifer Burger, Cape2Rio Race Administrator. “The team didn’t know Rio was an option, they committed because they enjoyed what they were doing.”
All members have their basic skipper’s ticket and three of the men have their offshore skipper’s ticket. The crew have also completed several yachting programmes, such as personal survival techniques, and competent crew courses. “Justin and Sibu completed a diesel mechanic course enabling them to work on the boat in the case of engine failure.”
Life aboard the Alexforbes ArchAngel will entail racing 24 hours, with the crew working in pairs – four hours shifts at a time during the day, and three hour shifts during the night, while the remainder sleep in a hot bed system. “The shifts routine is difficult to adjust to and it can get boring during their free time; there is no social media or battery power to watch movies on a laptop,” Burger said.
Food will be prepared in the small gallery atop a one-burner gas stove and will consist of “lots of pasta, rice and canned ingredients,” Sizatu said. “You use sea water to cook food once you are far enough from land.” Breakfast is cereal and snacks include biltong and nuts.
With only 400 litres of fresh water on board – 2.5 litres per crew member per day – showering is done using sea water, and a small spray bottle of fresh water to rinse off. They have a full medical aid kit including prescription drugs like pain killers and various antibiotics. “We sit most of the time, so the kit includes anti-chafe cream,” Sizatu said.
During a medical emergency, the global Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre will take over, and, after getting information from the crew, a doctor will decide if there is enough of a crisis to divert another ship to assist with a rescue.
Common potential injuries can include broken ribs or concussion from the boom swinging, as well as hypothermia. “We have to dress for the night shift an hour before sunset so that we don’t get cold.” With limited space, clothing is kept to a minimum and includes foul weather gear, quick-drying rash vests, shorts, tracksuit, beanie and buffs and shoes.
Should an incident befall the boat causing the crew to abandon it, such as an uncontrollable fire or a hole, the rule, for best visibility, is to stay with the boat as long as possible and only then climb into a fully provisioned inflatable life raft. They will also take a grab bag which has a spare GPS, seasickness tablets, food rations and their passports in waterproof bags. The Alexforbes ArchAngel is one of the smallest boats in the race, and is handicapped accordingly.
“Along the way, we can expect to see a lot of birdlife, maybe a few whales, and lots of flying fish, especially at dusk,” said Sizatu.
Each of the 18 boats must check in with Burger, as race administrator, daily, otherwise they receive a time penalty. “Each boat has a tracker which shows their position and the public can follow the race at www.cape2rio.live and can also send messages of support and well wishes to the Alexforbes ArchAngel crew from this site.