Beneteau Cup shows best of Hong Kong
The first Beneteau Cup Hong Kong did what it hoped to do, by bringing the local Beneteau community together. By Guy Nowell.
Two sparkling days over the weekend provided the perfect setting for Hong Kong’s inaugural Beneteau Cup, presented by Simpson Marine, supported by Beneteau Asia Pacific and hosted by the Aberdeen Boat Club, with Yacht Style among media partners.
“There are Beneteau Cups taking place all over the world, but we have never had a dedicated Beneteau Cup event in Hong Kong and that had to change,” said Richard Allen, Simpson Marine’s Group General Manager.
It provided an opportunity for Beneteau yacht owners to get together for some friendly racing and some even more friendly socialising, although with restrictions on the latter due to Covid-19 guidelines.
Not everyone races all the time, so when you have a disparate fleet of diehard buoy racers and dedicated refreshment jockeys, you need to make the racing part of the agenda as simple and understandable as possible.
Hong Kong is blessed with some on the prettiest coastal waters anywhere, with lots of islands that are useful as racing marks, so island-hopping is the obvious answer. Course 18 (IRC) started near Round Island on the south side of Hong Kong and headed off to the Fury Rocks, Sun Kong Chau, Castle Rock and then back.
It was a light-airs start out of Repulse Bay, with 21 boats on the line, and sailing hard on the breeze against an incoming tide made for slow but sure progress on board Mike Simpson’s new Oceanis 46.1 Freedom as we passed Bluff Head and Cape d’Aguilar before joining in with a small traffic jam at Fury Rocks.
How nice to see this Hong Kong landmark in serene and beautiful weather. By the time we cleared round the back of Sung Kong the tide had turned, so it was current on the nose all the way home, too.
Beating through the Beaufort Channel towards Castle Rock required no less than 19 tacks up the Po Toi shore – hard work in a cruising boat! And then we were free – free to reach away towards Round Island, and a very well-deserved cold beer as we crossed the finish line.
At ABC Middle Island race headquarters, the clubhouse and environs were turned into an elegant indoor-outdoor party venue with a lavish buffet and carvery to hand, and liquid refreshments both still and sparkling.
Sitting on the terrace at Middle Island and watching the late afternoon sun go down is one of the great pleasures in life. As a guest of the Beneteau Cup and with sailor-talk all around, it’s even better! Social gathering rules occasioned by the ever-present threat of the Covid pandemic meant the party was split into two ‘sittings’.
Sunday morning promised another blue-sky day ahead. Instead of a fleet race, the challenge was a pursuit race in which the smallest and slowest boats started first, and the bigger boats tried to catch up and overtake. It’s handicapping in reverse and first across the finish line is the winner.
The course was much the same as Saturday, but happily with more breeze. A gentle beat towards Fury Rocks and this time we hugged the opposite shore in the Beaufort Channel and reduced the tack count to a mere 13. A spinnaker on the way to a finish in Tai Tam Bay would have been nice, but this was a ‘white sails only’ race.
The beach to the south of To Tei Wan doesn’t have a name, but it is deserted, which made it a great place to drop anchor and go ashore for a properly convivial barbecue. There’s something about cold beer and a slightly sandy sausage that is close to perfection.
Prizes were awarded, tokens were distributed, and everyone – unanimously – decided that this had to happen again next year. Is the Beneteau Cup destined to be an annual event?
“I certainly hope so,” said Mike Simpson, founder and Managing Director of Simpson Marine. “If it can be this much fun when there are ‘restrictions’ in place, just imagine what it would be like without. We’ve waited quite a while for a Beneteau Cup in Hong Kong. I’m looking forward to the 2022 event already, but first I need to speak to my sailmaker.”
Beneteau Cup Hong Kong 2021: Overall
1. Legende II, Oceanis 51.1, Pascal Martin
2. Generations, Sense 46, Eddy Lee
3. Polarstar III, First 47.7, T C Leung
1. Foxzhead, First 31.7, Tonny Chung
2. Shindig, Oceanis Clipper 373, Megan Schmalzried
3. Yaeger, First 25, Yuen Cheuk Wai
Mike Simpson has reawakened his love for sailing since buying a new Beneteau Oceanis 46.1, which he has named Freedom in tribute to a yachting lifestyle he has promoted since founding Simpson Marine in 1984.