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Hugs all round finally crossing the finish line of the MCINTYRE OCEAN GLOBE RACE , quite an achievement for a South African entry. Credit: Aïda Valceanu/ OGR2023

Sterna Finishes McIntyre Ocean Globe Race to The Sounds of Bagpipes!

  • Sterna SA (42) Allspice Yachting crosses the Royal Yacht Squadron finish line at 10.37UTC after 53 days 17 hours 37 minutes and 55 seconds at sea ranking 11th in line honours.
  • Boat – Beanies – Bums – Bagpipes & Biltong!!!!
  • The crew of the 53-foot Swan have completed their adventure despite damaged rigging, ripped sails, snapped spinnaker poles and wind hole after wind hole. Not to mention missing out on the Rugby World Cup in their home port of Cape Town.
  • Family and friends turn out in force with twin floating BAGPIPES to welcome in the determined international crew.

The McIntyre Ocean Globe Race is full of human stories and this one is about the smallest boat, Beanies, Bums, Bagpipes and Biltong! Sterna SA (42) Allspice Yachting raced across the Royal Yacht Squadron finish line to the cheers and whoops of delight from family and friends. It was an emotional arrival for the crew who have had their fair share of challenges throughout the race. But nothing was going to stop the crew from celebrating their achievement crossing the line at 11.37 local time after 53 days 17 hours 37 minutes and 55 seconds at sea since leaving Punta Del Este in Uruguay…

BUMS! Captain Jeremy Bagshaw looks on as chief mate Melissa Du Toit and youth crew member Aurora Sillars bare bums to proudly show off their South African National undies to the delight of many. Credit: Aïda Valceanu/ OGR2023

With two Scottish bagpipes squealing out the South African national anthem as they closed the finish line and the sun fighting hard to shine through, it was an emotional scene. The crew looked splendid in the individual multi-colour, hand knitted while underway beanies, while some of the girls lead by Mellissa were once again happy to drop their pants to show off their multi-coloured underwear ensigns! to the absolute delight, yet confused English spectators.  

Two boats both with Bagpipes pushing out the South African National anthem to an emotional and excited crew of Sterna. Credit: Aïda Valceanu/ OGR2023


We lost our fridge and freezer on day two so we ate a lot of meat in the first 10 days before that started going off and then after that we were very vegetarian then it was a challenge to make the meals interesting! Then we ended up with quite a lot of damage to the boat during the race, so it felt like 52 days of repair work! We lost a lot of time when we couldn’t do the rigging repairs immediately because we had incredible sea state and could not climb the mast, so we had to Hove too for three days before we could attempt repairs. The sea state was just unbelievable. The rig was oscillating through a lot of degrees and we eventually got the D2 sorted and we’d been going great guns for 2 days and then one of the starboard Runners parted at the worst possible time in big winds and enormous seas. Having spent 40 days on starboard tack, we couldn’t risk the compromised rig without a runner on that side, so that was another day and a half waiting before we could go up and replace it.

Jeremy Bagshaw, skipper of Sterna for Leg 3 & 4.

It has been a challenging race for the crew of the Swan 53, one of the smallest yachts in the fleet. Leg one saw them crossing the line into their homeport of Cape Town, 12th in line honours after 49 days of sailing. They had hoped to arrive in time to see South Africa win the Rugby World Cup but were pushed north by 45-knots, gusting 50 knots, south easterlies with five-meter seas halting their progress.

Aurora, the youngest crew member who helmed STERNA across the finish line, meets her dad for the first time in a couple months !! Credit: Aïda Valceanu/ OGR2023

They had just six days until the start of Leg 2 to carry out essential repairs, which proved to be insurmountable. They were forced to delay their start to complete work on the Swan after discovering a crack behind their gooseneck fitting just hours before heading to the start line. They would start Leg 2 two days after the rest of the fleet – a disappointment for the South African crew.

And disappointment would strike again just days out from Cape Town when they were forced to return to port with rudder problems which made it impossible to continue on. They hauled out in Mossel Bay for essential repairs on their rudder which involved a team of laminators working for days. This outside assistance not allowed under the Notice of Race rules disqualified them from rankings in Leg 2.Then their leg 1 skipper had to leave the boat unexpectedly for personal reasons so chief mate Melissa Du Toit would replace Rufus Brand as leg 2 skipper for the remainder of the Leg.

BEERS and BILTONG at last after a long and tedious voyage for South African skipper and chief mate of Sterna – Happy Days for sure as food was getting boring… Credit: Aïda Valceanu/ OGR2023

After 63 days of racing, they crossed the Auckland finish line, leaving them just seven days to carry out repairs and get some rest and relaxation before the start of leg 3, Auckland to Punta del Este. Former Golden Globe solo sailor and fellow South African Jeremy Bagshaw would step onboard as skipper in Auckland for leg 3 & 4.

And while they might not have always ranked highly on the leaderboard, Leg 1 seeing them 10th in IRC and 12th in line honours, Leg 3 -11th in IRC and Line honours, they proved that determination, grit and humour can get you around the world. Their adventure was all about finishing. Once again, they had hoped to arrive on South African FREEDOM DAY but they were 10 hours late. 

Individual custom knitted as sea BEANIES lined up as the crew prepared to pop the top of a few champagne bottles celebrating the end of their MCINTYRE OGR adventure. Credit: Don McIntyre / OGR2023

Chief Mate Melissa Du Toit was looking forward to a beer and biltong on arrival and loved every minute of the OGR…

We’re late as usual, but we did it and we are so incredibly excited. This COWES reception is amazing, it’s such an incredible achievement. It’s the day after our national South African day and we’re just so happy and so proud and so happy to see everybody. This leg was tough, it was really tough and in terms of crew Dynamics – in terms of the human elements- in terms of the rig – in terms of the wind – I mean it was aggh, but I’d take the Southern Ocean any day. It’s faster and it just blows!

This whole OGR experience has changed me for sure, incredibly more. I’m a better sailor better people’s person I think, or I’ll try to be definitely now. I have more confidence, more like not scared of anything.  And my best experience was the Aurora Australis! like it wasn’t even a thing that I imagined would ever happen in this race and we got to see it. You don’t even see the sky in the Southern Ocean and it opened up and we saw the Southern lights.

We made it! Probably with the smallest budget in the smallest bout out of the entire fleet, probably had the worst weather out of the entire fleet and we still got here in one piece and we still did it- we’re here – we made it and it’s incredible!

Melissa Du Toit, Chief Mate of Sterna.
Watch Team Sterna’s pontoon welcome and interview here.

Only two yachts are left sailing, Translated 9 IT (09) are due to arrive around the 4th MAY and Explorer AU (28) could arrive on May 8th.



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