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Swan 53 (Hull No. 17)

Sterna of Allspice Yachting

Rufus Brand

Allspice Yachting is a purveyor of sailing adventures along the Cape of Good Hope and on the high seas.

It was co-founded by Dr. Gerrit Louw in 2018 and since then has facilitated unique sailing adventures and commercial expeditions covering more than 20,000 nm of southern Atlantic blue-water. Inspired by the 2018 Golden Globe Race, Gerrit applied for an Ocean Globe Race invitation believing that the retro round the world race concept is a logical progression of Allspice Yachting’s achievements. 

To achieve your goals and dreams, you have no other choice than to step far outside of your comfort zone and into the adventure.

Rufus Brand, Skipper Leg One


Skipper – Leg 1

Rufus Brand (ZAF) is leg 1 skipper onboard Sterna. At 18 he crewed on his first Atlantic crossing with no previous experience. In the 22 years since, he has gone on to professionally skipper and crew on various sailing vessels around the world, from a 38ft steel monohull to a 139ft tall ship.

Skipper – Leg 2

Melissa Du Toit (ZAF) is leg 2 skipper onboard Sterna and first mate/navigator on legs 1, 3 and 4. She has been sailing for seven years and has accumulated over 30,000 ocean/offshore miles.

First Mate – Leg 2

Fergus McDonald (GBR) is first mate for leg 2 onboard Sterna.

No.Name, NationalitySex, AgeLeg 1Leg 2Leg 3Leg 4
1Rufus Brand, ZAFM, 39
2Melissa Du Toit, ZAFF, 33
3Gerrit Louw, ZAFM, 33
4Brittany Mauer, USAF, 35
5Justin Schmidt, USAM, 44
6Ebru Yaral, TURF, 43
7Fergus McDonald, GBRM, 59
8Aurora Sillars, GBRF, 23
9Ben Lam, JPNM, 57

Sterna of Allspice Yachting

Image: Kim van Zyl

Sterna of Allspice Yachting is a modified Swan 53 commissioned in 1988 by an experienced Danish yachtsman who wanted a true regatta racing yacht that can accommodate large crews comfortably.

She was built with a multitude of unique features, including: a custom keel with an improved righting moment, aft companionway, a modified bridge deck and an expanded aft cabin with two single berths. Further changes from the original design includes the installation of a 135 hp engine (instead of the normal 85hp) and expanded water and diesel tanks to enable longer periods of off-grid self-reliance.

The boat was sold in 1994 and continued to cruise the Mediterranean and Adriatic before sailing to the Caribbean with her third owner in 2001. Allspice Yachting specifically bought her in 2021 for the Ocean Globe Race and sailed her from Grenada to her new home port in Cape Town.

LOA53.00 ft / 16.15 m
LWL43.06 ft / 13.12 m
Beam15.51 ft / 4.73 m
Draft10.20 ft / 3.11 m
Displacement20 to
DesignerGerman Frers

Why do you want to compete in the Ocean Globe Race?

Gerrit Louw: Ever since I have discovered sailing I have been inspired by sailors such as H.W Tilman (Mischief), Robin Knox-Johnston (Suhaili), Bernard Moitessier (Joshua), Blondie Hasler (Jester), Trevor Robertson (Iron Bark), Tania Aebi (Varuna) and Roger Taylor (Ming Ming), to name only a few.

These sailors have all pushed the boundaries of what was perceived possible during their time. The same is true for The Whitbread sailors, such as Conny van Rietschoten and Peter Blake.

Gerrit Louw

With the advent of the Ocean Race the dynamics of the race changed and a new type of sailor evolved. Corinthian adventure took a back seat to professional athleticism. The Ocean Globe Race reintroduces the sense of amateur adventure lost during the evolution of modern-day round the world yacht races. It brings to life aspirational characters in a format where it is as much about the story as the final leaderboard.

The values of the Ocean Globe Race resonate strongly with my own approach to adventure and that is what attracts me the most.


On board Sterna

A small selection of footage shot on board SWAN 53 Sterna (South Africa) during the McIntyre Ocean Globe Race 2023.