Land n Sand Jan / Feb 2014 - Page 6

BLACK CAT DoDo During the first night the storm built up slowly and then the gusts came. AVANTI was 80 to 90 miles west of Langebaan when the storm hit. The swell was eight to ten meters with 60 knot winds. AVANTI had a very small triangle of sail, as big as a handkerchief for stability. Suffering a broken hatch and a crack in the keel, she made it to Saldanha on 6 January. “Everyone was soaked and bruised” On board the second oldest yacht taking part in the race, Marna Cilliers’ love affair with sailing was flourishing. She gave up her rental to sail on DoDo. Upon arrival in Rio, she was to have a month long holiday and would then have sailed back leisurely. Now, a few days after the start of the race, her dreams were shattered. They were busy reefing their sails when their steering failed as the storm hit. The wind was gusting between 35 and 49 knots, waves started breaking over the boat. After realising there was very little they could do, the crew strapped themselves into their bunks, as everyone was falling all over the place. Everyone was soaked and bruised and this carried on for about 12 to 14 hours. DoDo’s 60 liters fridge was initially strapped in under the splash cover – they could not get it through the hatch into the yacht before the race. The straps came loose and it was rocking and rolling all over the foredeck. Marna said she realised how insignificant she was in the hellish tail end of that majestic and immense power ... a humbling experience.