(Hong Kong, China)- Hong Kong's largest and most inclusive sailing event, the Tommy Bahamas Around Island Race, featured more than 200 sailing boats, together with outrigger canoes and coastal rowing boats. All teams battled it out over the 26nm course that is known as the “Round Island Race” (e.g. all around the islands that comprise Hong Kong)! Cool race, spectacular vistas of the world-renown city and breathtaking views of the ginormous, lush, jungle green mountain-tops. Anyone looking out of their window in Hung Hom or Chai Wan on the morning of the start would see hundreds of boats converging on Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour from every point of the compass for Hong Kong’s biggest annual celebration of sail and paddle on the water.
The Around the Island Race became an annual event in 1983, however its origins go back to 1864 when six boats raced around Hong Kong Island to Starboard (clockwise) and Hong Kong’s sailors have since regarded this route as a tricky challenge with unpredictable wind shifts. The race course features a 26nm circumnavigation of Hong Kong Island to starboard, which has been sanctioned by Hong Kong Marine Department since 2003. This year there was record-setting breeze, so the Royal Hong Kong YC PRO, Ms Inge Strompf-Jepsen, managed to fire off twenty separate starts for sailboats at RHKYC’s Kellett Island clubhouse.
With the replenishment of the northeast monsoon filling in overnight, many competitors took one look at the conditions and decided that prudence was the better part of valor. This included the majority of the beach cat classes, where even the most battle hardened sailors took one look at the conditions whipped up by the 15-18kt easterly in the harbour and decided that the 25kts plus and two to three metre seas at Cape D’Aguilar were not for them or their boats.
With 258 entries, this was the biggest prospective fleet recorded for the 26nm circumnavigation. With even Cyberport Gate getting a good 20-25kt blow and the relatively flat stretch along the south and south west of Hong Kong Island meant the entire fleet would likely be on record-setting paces for their respective classes. Indeed, after the finish times were recorded and handicap times applied, it was pretty clear that most records fell from previous years.
Amongst the J/Teams, there were some excellent performances. In the highly competitive IRC 2 Class, the J/111 MOJITO sailed by Simon Blore had a tremendous race, taking second overall and narrowly missing the overall win by a mere minute and a half!
Taking a comfortable fifth overall in the IRC Cruiser class (white sails) was the super quick carbon flyer, the J/145 REDEYE skippered by George Taylor.
In the HKPN 601-910 class, the J/109 WHISKEY JACK sailed by veteran Hong Kong offshore campaigner Nick Southward, managed to pull off a third in their class in the challenging breezes.
Still savoring their classic J/35 NO ONE ELSE was Emily Chan & Sidney Leung, skippering the boat to a third overall in one of the largest classes in the race- HKPN 981-1070 class.
Finally, the J/80s enjoyed a large turn-out for this popular race; their fourteen boat one-design fleet predictably had some very close quarters sailing with just four minutes separating the top six boats after 26nm!! Fun sailing for those crews! Topping the fleet was Jonny H skippering J-CHI. Just a few seconds behind them was Ben Bulmer’s JASMINE in second, followed by Henry Wong’s FOOTLOOSE in third, Sam Phillips skippering MOZZIE in fourth and Lim Boon Kian helming LILA to fifth overall. For more Tommy Bahama Around Island Race sailing information