Black Cat starting 1996 Cape to Rio Race

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Capsize Book by Dudley Dix - South Atlantic Capsize
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SOUTH ATLANTIC CAPSIZE - Lessons Taught by a Big Ocean Wave

In January 2014 I was skipper of the 38ft "Black Cat", setting out from Table Bay in the Cape To Rio Race, expecting to take 3 weeks to cross the South Atlantic Ocean to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The Cape of Good Hope is notorious for producing bad weather, which can show up at any time of year. This race started in mid-summer and sailed straight into a storm to rival the worst that the Cape winter conjures up. "Black Cat" sailed through that storm and, when breaking out of the back of it, suffered a rudder failure. While en-route back to harbour after the storm with a jury rudder, an intense storm developed under a high-level cut-off low system and got "Black Cat" in its clutches. That evening she was capsized by a massive wave that was much larger than any others, throwing around crew, stores and equipment.

This book tells the story of the boat, the crew, the race and the storm; what happened on the boat, what damage was done, what the men onboard did to safeguard vessel and crew, what they did to get themselves back to port and what else was going on around them. It also includes the story of a similar capsize of the Swan 65 "Sayula II" in the 1973 Whitbread Round the World Race, as told by crew-member Butch Dalymple-Smith.

It closes with chapters that explain the principles of stability of sailboats, with particular reference to those factors that affect the likelihood of a boat being capsizes and, once capsized, of righting itself quickly to improve the chances of survival of the crew.

This page was updated 4 June 2015
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