It was only a few weeks ago many supporters, friends and family gathered at the landing steps in Jamestown St Helena to wave farewell to the crew of the yacht Carpe Diem who was about to set sail on a 1700-mile journey to Cape town to prepare for 2018 Cape to St Helena yacht race. This a was journey that had been carefully planned with the help and contribution by many local St Helena people and Island organisations.
The Cape to St Helena yacht race which was formally known as the Governor’s cup race was invented by a former Captain, Dave Roberts of the RMS St Helena, along with the help of then Governor David Smallman and the Royal Cape Yacht Club which resulted in the very first governor’s cup race been invented on the 8th of December 1996 starting at table bay in Cape town.
After the first race which was proven to be a great success a team from St Helena was invited to part take in this exciting scheduled event and the 2018 race was no different.
This year Carpe Diem a Bavaria 38-foot boat owned by St Helenian born James Herne was entered into the 2018 Cape to St Helena race but this was not an easy challenge for James as his boat was moored in St Helena after he and his wife Hannah and their 3 kids had recently returned home to settle in St Helena after circumnavigating around the world.
James an experienced skipper with 75000 nautical miles under his belt, and now the commodore of the St Helena Yacht club James was keen to compete in the race and was offering up the opportunity for a St Helena crew to share his passion to be part of this event.
After weeks of planning and making sure that all the logistics were in place James was ready to sail his 38-foot Carpe Diem back to Cape town in readiness for the race.
The challenge to get Carpe Diem into race mode was not straight forward, the training and recruiting of a St Helena crew began and the planning began and in typical St Helena fashion, the support of the local St Helena community behind him was helping to fund raise for the event with every one making sure this was another success.
Finally, James and his son Josh and three selected St Helena crew members, Andrew Turner, Michael Owen, Dennis Owen got underway and team Carpe Diem departed Jamestown harbour.
As the journey progress, local media reported “The journey was progressing well despite experiencing some calm weather on route and having to motor for a few hours the crew on board was doing amazing and in very high spirits.
A YouTube video shot during the trip showed the crew enjoying their time on board and some of them also managed to swim during the calm period along with some great onboard home cooking.
Social media messages flooded the internet with well wishes and support for team Carpe Diem, despite been a little behind schedule the St Helena yacht club finally confirmed that team Carpe Diem had arrived safely in Cape Town at 5.15 am on December 18th.
Shortly after the arrival the same day The St Helena independent and Saint FM broke a news story that three crew members, the Owen Brothers and Andrew Turner had called it a day and would not be competing in the Cape to St Helena race on board Carpe Diem, although it was not clear at the time the reason for this sudden decision however the three crew members had managed to secure flight tickets and would be flying back to St Helena on the Saturday flight.
James and his 13-year-old son Josh who was still determined to compete in the race continued working to repair and fit new sails, thirteen-year-old Josh spent four hours dangling from the mast sorting out Nav lights, while the boats race tracker was been fitted parallel task continued to resolve the main engine starting issue which incidentally gave trouble on arrival in Cape Town.
There had been no communications or update from the departing crew after they had left Carpe Diem which meant that they also left some of their personal belongings on board.
The news story soon appeared online and social media viewers sprung into life and many conversations were discussed openly including statements that the breaking news was inaccurate, meanwhile while pro supporters of the race offered words of encouragement for the remaining Carpe Diem crew to continue the race and motivated them to go and win it for St Helena,
A group of social media followers even reached out asking who would be keen to crew the boat, Steven Ellick a saint who now lives in the UK offered to help crew the boat, while others suggested that maybe something could be done to get a St Helena crew in place to compete in the race.
After much discussion James told his followers on Facebook that after a long conversation online with his wife Hannah and the kids who were back in St Helena, that they had made a decision that the family would fly to South Africa from St Helena to join them in Cape Town to crew the boat and the 1700 nautical mile Cape to St Helena race would be back on, and everything would be plain sailing for the rest of the Journey, however this was short lived as another twist appeared on the horizon, when it was discovered that the Carpe Diem had to prove to South African Immigration authorities that the three departing crew had left the country, This issue potentially could have stop Carpe Diem leaving South Africa said James and he would have not been able to compete in the race after all, however with some support from St Helena this was rectified within a few hours with the help of immigration officials.
Speaking to James live from Carpe Diem we asked James how he was he getting on despite a rollercoaster two weeks and whether he was ready to be on the start line of the 2018 Cape to St Helena race.