The Swedish trimaran Nicator has taken line honours in the Cape to Rio race

The crack crew on board the new generation trimaran Nicator crossed the finishing line in Guanabara Bay to take line honours in the SAP Cape to Rio 2003 ocean race. The trimaran, skippered by professional yachtsman Klabbe Nylöf, crossed the finishing line at 10h48 (Brazilian time) to set an elapse 12days 23hours 47minutes and 54 seconds.

With this performance Nicator has smashed the current multihull record by almost six days. The multihull record was set during the 1993 race when the Mayotte 465 Sea Rose, skippered by Chris King, completed the race in 18 days 7 hours and 24 minutes. In the 2000 race, the St Francis 44 Galileo, skippered by Duncan Lethbridge won both line and handicap honours by finishing in 22 days.

Before the start of the 2003 race, Nylöf and his crew earlier set their sights on beating the current monohull crossing record of twelve days and sixteen hours set by the American maxi Zephyrus IV during the 2000 race. A disappointed Nylöf said in an interview this morning that they were desperately trying to get to Rio before the 12 days 16 hours. “We sailed the shortest route possible and really pushed the boat hard, but the weather conditions were against us. There is no way we could have done this any faster, but it is sad that we missed the deadline by only a couple of hours,” explained Nylöf.

Nicator was a pre-race favourite for a sub-twelve day crossing and Nylöf predicted that they could complete the 3,400 mile race in just over ten days if the winds were kind. The trimaran is capable of top speeds of 35 knots and holds several elapsed time records for ocean races, including in the San Diego – Puerto Vallarta race and the Miami-Montego Bay race.

To add to the crew’s frustrations, they got caught in the notorious lulls off Cabo Frio and took over four hours to complete the last 60 miles in virtually windless conditions.

Most of the fleet participating in this year’s race struggled in the extremely light winds that prevailed. The traditional South Atlantic high-pressure system was unexpectedly huge and the expected trade winds took a while to come in. Several yachts reported almost windless conditions for the best part of three days and yachting experts predicted early during the race that a record crossing time was highly unlikely.

Nicator’s closest rival, the catamaran Adrenalina Pura, is expected in Rio by Saturday evening.

The race for handicap honours continues to chop and change on a daily basis. Based on today’s report, it looks as if most yachts have found good breeze, none more so the two Gauteng entries Baleka and Investec, who maintain their first and second position in the handicap ratings. The Norwegian entry Barracuda continues sneaking up the leader board and has toppled Gawie Fagan’s Suidoos 2 from third position.

The German maxi Morning Glory is still lying in a very credible fifth position on handicap and is also expected in Rio over the weekend. Hasso Plattner’s 81ft maxi is the first monohull expected across the finish line and was considered a strong contender for the class record. However, Plattner refuted this even before the race started by saying that the weather conditions were not ideal for a record attempt.