Ngalawa Cup - Record Breaking Winners Interview

The July edition of the Ngalawa Cup has been won by pair of triumphant Swedes. Olof and Martin have set a new record by completing the race in only three and a half days. 

We catch up with these salty sailors now they're safely ashore, beer in hand: 


Congratulations, Martin, how does it feel to be record breaking winners?

We didn’t capsize and we didn’t do anything to damage the boat.
— Martin, Team 6

It’s not something that we know how to relate to but it feels good having completed the race and everyone is in one piece. We’ve had a great experience so we’re very happy.

How did you manage to complete the race in only three and a half days?

I think there were a couple of reasons. The boat was clearly a good one and was really fast. We did a load of maintenance and reinforcements on it before setting off and we were quite diligent of taking care of it every evening even while sailing. Then there was the discipline aspects of it getting up at 5am every morning so we were ready to race at 6:30 and trying to go as far as we could to use as much of the daylight racing time as possible and then not making any major mistakes. So we didn’t capsize and we didn’t do anything to damage the boat. Nothing dramatic just doing the basics right.

Spending a lot of time being alone on smaller boats has given us the confidence to know that you can fix things when they go wrong.
— Martin, Team 6

So do you think that's to do with all the sailing experience, could you tell me about that?

Spending a lot of time being alone on smaller boats has given us the confidence to know that you can fix things when they go wrong and knowing how to improvise and so on. We’re not professional sailors or very experienced sailors but we’ve did some sailing growing up. 

How did you find the boat?

Much better than expected. They have an amazing design and sail very well.  We were doing 7 or 8 knots these last days. I think we were going 14 knots certainly some days. 

Our bronzed champs, looking chuffed

Photo Credit- Olof Sundström

Let's head over to Olof, who's the real sailing expert apparently:

If we missed it we would miss the light and be stuck at sea in the dark.
— Olof, Team 6

How did you find the boat? Was it difficult to sail?

Not particularly, I mean it’s all about expectations. We’ve been sailing a bit before and my image of this boat was that it was supposed to be carved out of a log with a stick and a piece of fabric cloth on it and it’s actually a real boat and you can handle it quite well. You can’t tack though and you can only gybe which makes it more tricky. Apart from that it behaved very well. It’s actually stable in high speeds so we were going at about 35 knots. A very high speed.

What was the toughest moment for you?

We were heading for this island we were staying on for that night and it was close to nightfall. We only had one shot to land on the island. If we missed it we would miss the light and be stuck at sea in the dark. We didn’t have a clue what it looked like, if it was a rocky or sandy. It turned out if we had come the wrong side of it we would have probably just crashed into the island.

Phew, that's a close call. What about your best moment?

Definitely the crossing we did between Dar es Salaam and the island of Zanzibar, it’s a piece of open water with very strong winds. It was just beautiful sailing for hours straight doing 10 knots. That was the highlight of the trip.

I wish we could have kept on it for longer.
— Olof, Team 6

How are you celebrating?

We had a great lunch at the bar and something like beef for dinner. I mean we did it for the experince more then anything else so I think we’ll get some sleep from enjoying it. I wish we could have kept on it for longer. 

 

What advice would you give to future Ngalawa competitors?

It’s an excellent experience, everyone should do it.
— Olof, Team 6

It’s an excellent experience, everyone should do it. If you do nothing to the boat it is very unlikely I’d say that it will make it in one piece. You need to prepare the boat for the crossing especially as you’re going to push the boat quite far. Everything is readily at hand. Spend a couple of days or two buying a couple of hundred meters of rope and tie everything together and bring repair stuff on the boat so you can repair everything on the move.

This pair impressed our local man from the start who dubbed them ‘albino Tanzanians’ - rather a compliment from the veteran sailor. They lived up to their promise and went on to win the whole race. Bravo chaps. 


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