China Coast Regatta shows best of HK
Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s postponed China Coast Regatta benefited from clear skies and great sailing conditions, with Alpha+ and Ambush among division winners.
After Hong Kong suffered from two severe tropical storms in a week, the China Coast Regatta was postponed to October 15-17 – and the wait was worth it. Wind conditions picked up gradually throughout Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s premier big boat event, showcasing the city’s signature sailing conditions at its finest with great monsoon breeze, blue skies and warm waters.
A gentle 6-8-knot easterly breeze awaited the start of racing on the Friday, with 21 boats taking to the course southeast of Lamma Island. All IRC racing divisions were sent off on a windward/leeward to start the action. However, conditions began to deteriorate, with some rainfall with the breeze building throughout the second race, peaking at 20 knots.
Race Officer Inge Strompf-Jepsen set an island course for the last race of the first day, with the TP52 division and IRC Racer 1 sailing a 20nm island course, racing around Sung Kung, Po Toi and Beaufort Islands before finishing at Stanley. IRC Racer 2 and 3 were set a shorter course of 16.5nm around Sung Kung and Beaufort.
Noel Chan’s Rampage88 finished second in the TP52 class; Photo: RHKYC/Guy Nowell
In contrast to the first day, breezier conditions were forecast and came to fruition on Saturday, as a northerly breeze and blue skies greeted sailors, and the addition of the HKPN increased the fleet to 30. The TP52 and IRC Racer classes raced two windward/leeward and an Island course while HKPN was given one windward/leeward and an island course in picture-perfect conditions.
As the day progressed, the breeze again built to 15-20 knots, showcasing Hong Kong racing at its best out on the Lamma racetrack. The building breeze put many of the crews through their paces, while the very experienced crews pressed their boats harder and faster in the ever-increasing sea state, creating a true spectacle as the boats raced hard downwind.
Sunday certainly lived up to its reputation, providing the ultimate in Hong Kong’s champagne sailing conditions. The yachts were straight into a 15-20-knot north easterly breeze, blue skies and an increasing sea state at the southeast end of Lamma.
D. S. Cheung’s Wicked in IRC Racer 2; Photo: RHKYC/Vivian Ngan
Under the influence of the Strong Monsoon signal, which was to stay in force all day, Strompf-Jepsen said: “We feared it would have been really windy, but actually we had an average of 16-17 knots, gusting 20 knots. There were two massive gusts up to 32 knots and it was very exciting.”
All divisions were sent on two-lap windward/leewards to start the day, with a few broaches and ripped kites resulting in a few retirements.
Thomas Wong’s Ding Dong in IRC Racer 3; Photo: RHKYC/Guy Nowell
The TP52s and all IRC classes were set three laps for their final race of the regatta. While the race management team had originally planned on sending the HKPN division off on an islands course for their second race of the day, they were ultimately set another two-lap windward/leeward to suit the prevailing conditions.
“We set the longest courses we could and finally put on a three-lap course for the IRC classes that would keep them racing for at least an hour,” Strompf-Jepsen said. “Over the three days, we set different types of courses including two and three-lap windward/leewards and two island courses.”
The three-day regatta featured fine weather and sailing conditions; Photo: RHKYC/Guy Nowell
Having completed their scheduled seven races, the IRC and TP52 divisions enjoyed a discard. Shawn Kang’s Alpha+, the pre-regatta favourite, lifted the TP52 trophy with an impressive five wins out of seven races, with Noel Chan’s Rampage 88 second overall.
The heavier breeze created some place changes from the two previous days. In IRC Racer 1, Joachim Isler and Andrew Taylor’s Ambush took the win over William Liu’s Seawolf 2 on countback.
The China Coast Regatta is followed by the China Coastal Race; Photo: RHKYC/Guy Nowell
In the competitive IRC Racer 2 division, Nick Burns’ King Mills 40 Witchcraft took another two bullets on the final day to successfully hold off James Verner’s Judel Vrolijk Custom 36 Nightshift by 3 points.
In IRC Racer 3, Andrew Pidden’s J99 Juice pipped Nick Southward’s J-109 Admiralty Harbour Whiskey Jack, despite the latter notching up two wins on final day. Carl Wilkinson’s Lisa Elaine came out ahead of Bradly Wilkins’ Blowers Daughter, also on countback, to claim the HKPN division.
Autumn Regatta Sponsored by HSBC Expat provided a spectacular launch for Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s 2021-22 sailing season.