This year’s Sun Hung Kai & Co Around the Island Race featured 224 entries in 14 classes and required 24 consecutive starts.
Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s Sun Hung Kai & Co. Around the Island Race, Hong Kong’s biggest annual sailing event, featured an impressive entry list of 224 boats from 14 classes including seven one-design classes, Sportsboats, HKPN, IRC, dinghies and beach catamarans.
It took two start lines set off Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s Kellett Island Clubhouse and 24 consecutive starts to get the fleet away for the 26nm circumnavigation of Hong Kong Island, with 207 boats completing the race and over 50 volunteers helping out during the day.
The SHK Scallyway Fuku Orma 60 trimaran was the last starter at 11.10am, 10 minutes behind its smaller opponent, the Nigel Irens 40 trimaran, Carbon 3. The smallest boat competing in the race, the single-handed RS Aero 7 skippered by Stefan Lecher, headed off at 8.40am.
The youngest participant of the race was Danielle Law, just 2½ years old, who took part in her first Around the Island Race on boar Ding Dong with her five-year-old brother Sean and her father Dominic.
The day started in 8-10 knots of north-easterly breeze off the start line. The fleet made their way up the island side of the Hong Kong Harbour, avoiding exclusion zones for Hong Kong’s busy marine traffic and then made their way out through the Lei Yue Mun Gap. Kites were hoisted out of the Gap, where the fleet compressed as the wind lightened off to an easterly breeze of around six knots.
By Shek O and the approaches to Cape D’Aguilar, Nim Ye’s J92s Delight was in the lead with the breeze starting to pick up again to 10 knots. However, Rune Jacobsen’s J/80 Jamminsoon took over the lead, passing through the Stanley Gate at 12.40pm, with the 29ers right behind them.
In the meantime, things were also hotting up at the back of the fleet as SHK Scallywag Fuku powered up and started working her way through the armada of yachts, leading the fleet through the Cyberport Gate nine minutes later and the Sandy Bay club mark four minutes later by 12.53pm.
With the fleet under kite from Cape D’Aguilar experiencing consistent conditions, Race Officer David Norton confirmed the race would make the full circumnavigation with the finish off Kellett Island.
Spared the typical Cyberport park-up, the majority of the fleet had converged on Green Island by 3.00pm before they started the last challenging section of the course – negotiating the tricky beat through the harbour to the finish.
In what was to be a quick race for all, the David Witt-skippered SHK Scallyway Fuku took the fasted elapsed time of 2h 25m 21s, just short of the race record of 2h 13m 11s established by Aberdeen Extreme 40 in 2013.
The big winners of the day were Noel Chan’s TP52 Rampage 88, followed by another TP52 Phoenix owned by Robert Wiest/Victor Ku and David Ho and Patrick Pender’s VX One Serendipity.
For the HKPN division, Niccolo Manno’s Carbon 3 trimaran took the win, followed by Bridget Chan’s Ker 11.3 Minnie the Moocher and Raymond Yip’s Beneteau First 44.7 Harpseal in third place.
Race Officer David Norton was satisfied with the steady conditions. “Unlike the ‘feast and famine’ conditions that we see most years, the 2022 Around the Island Race had a consistent 8-12 knots around the whole course,” Norton said. “Great sailing conditions along the Lamma channel, with the only real soft spot around the Green Island mark.”
The outgoing tide helped most of the fleet through Lei Yue Mun, but the payback was a strong adverse current in the western harbour on the 3½ mile beat back from Green Island mark to the finish. www.rhkyc.org.hk