(Hong Kong, China)- An eight to twelve knot Southerly presented a new challenge on the final day showdown in this year’s 7th China Cup International Regatta. Some yachts held a commanding lead while others still had a fight on their hands. One island race for the offshore handicap boats sealed the deal and celebrations were on order at the final presentation at the Sheraton Hotel Dameisha.
The closest head-to-head battle came in the IRC B class between Tonny Chun’s Talkinghead who were one point in front of Nick Southward's J/109 WHISKEY JACK going into the last race. In turn, Southward’s team held a six point lead over Korolev Nikolai's Elena Team of Russian sailors who had their work cut out if they were to topple the leaders. By winning the only race on the last day, Southward's WHISKEY JACK tied on points with Chun’s Talkinghead and, on a tie-breaker countback, WHISKEY JACK became the overall winner by nature of winning the final race!
In the HKPN Division 1, after their slow start from Hong Kong to Daya Bay, Ben Chong's J/80 JENA PABE scored second place around the cans to secure second overall.
At the start of the day, Wong Chi Hin Henry’s J/80 Team FOOTLOOSE held a two point lead in the HKPN Division 2 but fell of the pace and, after finishing 4th on the last day, handed the lead over to Szeto Yiu Kwai's Cutting Edge that won the race. Nevertheless, Team FOOTLOOSE were quite happy to take home the silver as runner-up.
How did it all come down to the final day for these teams to factor into their division leading performances? Here’s a daily summary of how they managed to rise like “phoenix from the ashes” to take silverware in one of China’s most important offshore regattas.
The first day of racing got off to a flying start for the famous “Simpson Passage Race”. Up to 20 knots from the NNE greeted the sailors at the Clearwater Bay start line and PRO Simon James sent the fleet briskly away on a 20nm close hauled beat up to Daya Bay. Southward's WHISKEY JACK pulled off the daily double in the IRC B Class and wasted no time in celebrating during the immigration check in with the free flow of beer! In HKPN 1 & 2 divisions, the J/80 teams didn’t place in the top three.
The second day of racing was really challenging, with light and patchy breezes making it extremely difficult to be consistent across three windward-leeward races. In IRC B, Talkinghead won two heats, while yesterday’s winner of the Simpson Passage Race, WHISKEY JACK finished 2nd, albeit by just three seconds on corrected time in one race. As punishment for failing to start with sufficient daring and courage, WHISKEY JACK’s skipper Nick Southward was presented with a set of heavy marble balls! The idea was that Southward had now “been equipped with the balls” to shoot off the start line with more gusto for their next day of racing! Yes, a bit of “locker-room” humour on that team, eh?!
The third day dawned with light winds on a very lumpy and bumpy sea. A number of head-to-head battles were developing among the top boats in the handicap divisions, with just a point here or there between them. In IRC B there was some good friendly banter between the two front-runners, Chun’s Talkinghead sitting a point in front of the J/109 WHISKEY JACK. In fact, Southward’s crew member, Guy Nowell (of Sail-World.com fame), said that, “each of us got a 1 and a 2 today. Tomorrow we’ll take it seriously when we have to, but whatever happens we always have to have a couple of Whiskey Jacks when we hit the dock!” Notably, the J/80 Team FOOTLOOSE amassed a 1-1 for the day to leap into the leading position for the final day of the regatta, as did the J/80 JENA PABE.
In summary, it seems many regattas in China are renown for taking on a side-show element onshore and treated like mini-Olympics on the water. After seven events the China Cup regatta has come of age. To increase the numbers, a change of dates to early October is under consideration to fall in line with other events run out of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, hopefully such a change may improve the quality of the IRC classes. Sailing photo credits- AsianYachting/China Cup/Studio Borlenghi. For more China Cup International Regatta sailing information