Wednesday, April 18, 2012

J/Teams Sail Fast Across China Sea

J/145 cruiser racer sailboat- sailing China Sea Race J/109 & J/145 Earn Silver In Rolex China Sea Race (Hong Kong, China)- The 50th anniversary of the Rolex China Sea Race that started April 4th was not the fastest one on record, not by a long shot.  This 565nm Category 1 Offshore Race run under the auspices of RORC takes competitors from Hong Hong, China to Subic Bay in the Philippines.  The two J/Teams from the Royal Hong Kong YC sailed incredibly well.  The J/109 WHISKEY JACK sailed by Nick Southward from RHKYC managed a 2nd Overall in IRC Racing 2 Class and 7th overall in IRC Fleet against some pretty stiff competition.  And, the J/145c REDEYE skippered by Wayne Thompson in IRC Cruising Class finished a well-deserved 2nd overall and was 9th boat overall line honors against a hot fleet of large racing boats--  from the Maxi 90 foot canting keeler GENUINE RISK to trio of modified TP52s.

J/109 racer cruiser sailboat- sailing at China Sea Race startThe race began under near-perfect conditions for a start in Victoria Harbour, just off the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. Good Easterly breeze at about 12-15 knots gave the 26 participating boats the push they needed to get the fleet out of the harbor-- often not an easy thing to do.  RHKYC Sailing Manager Alex Johnston said, “The fleet got away very cleanly with no boats over the line early, and for a race start of this size we had plenty of breeze, so from a start point of view, one really couldn’t ask for anything better.”

At 12:10 the first warning signal rang out as the boats crisscrossed the Harbour beneath towering skyscrapers and in front of the RHKYC searching for breeze. After the start, the fleet hugged the Kowloon side heading out of the Harbour. The first boats were out of view from the RHKYC by 12:35, as they continued across Junk Bay and out past the Po Toi islands into the South China Sea.

Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club before China Sea Race startThe initial weather forecasts indicated that it might favour the smaller boats in the fleet but crews seemed doubtful about a quick trip to the finish. Said one skipper about the conditions, “I think the first 24 hours will be fast sailing upwind. It looks like the wind will die down but hopefully we will have some downwind sailing on the light air later in the race.”  Another echoed a similar sentiment, "What we see regarding weather is a very complex standoff between the Northeast and the Southeast monsoons, which means the race will be very tactical and very challenging.”  As it turns out, these observations were somewhat prophetic.  Not a fast race, but a steady one with a few stops and starts.  In the end, the fleet was treated to a reasonably nice passage of the China Sea to the Philippines.  The Subic Bay YC rolled out the red carpet for the crews, with terrific festivities, entertainment and an extraordinary feast for all to share some mighty sea stories after the race.  For more Rolex China Sea Race sailing information.