The first Cape to Rio yacht race takes place


Yatch Race

Saturday, 16 January 1971

The first Transatlantic yacht race between Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) took place on this day. SAS (South African Ships) Tafelberg served as guardship for the voyage which started from Table Bay in Cape Town. The race was called the Cape to Rio, but was renamed the South Atlantic race as the races destination has changed from time to time to include Punta del Este in Uruguay and Salvador in Brazil.

The race was inspired by South African sailing legend Bruce Dalling(died 2008), winner on handicap of the 1968 Transatlantic Single-Handed Yacht Race sailed between Plymouth, England and Newport, Rhode Island.

While South Africa celebrated Dalling's success, Admiral H.H. Biermann made the first recorded suggestion of South Africa organizing an ocean race, either to Australia or South America, at a function in Cape Town. The Springbok Ocean Racing Trust changed its name to the South African Ocean Racing Trust and immediately sprang into action. In co-operation with Clube de Rio de Janeiro, the race was organised in conjunction with the Cruising Association of South Africa (CASA) for 1971, at a date which would allow the finish to coincide with Carnival time.

In the race in 1971 Dalling skippered Jakaranda, which was expected to lead the South African challenge. Unfortunately she sheared a main rudder post early in the race.

The 3 600 nautical mile race has been raced 11 times since 1971.

Prizes are awarded to the first competitor across the line, new records being set, as well as the first three across the line in 3 handicap classes.

• Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau. N.B This source is from the archive.
• Andre Wessel, (2013), Flag showing cruises by South African Warships, from SA Navy, 25 November [online], Available at [Accessed: 8 January 2009]
• Morgani, B. (2008), Sailing legend Dalling passes away, from, 9 July [online], Available at [Accessed: 7 January 2008]

Last updated : 12-Dec-2013

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

Support South African History Online

Donate and Make African History Matter

South African History Online is a non profit organisation. We depend on public support to build our website into the most comprehensive educational resource and encyclopaedia on African history.

Your support will help us to build and maintain partnerships with educational institutions in order to strengthen teaching, research and free access to our content.