(Hong Kong, China)- From its inauguration in 1977, when a group of sailing enthusiasts from Royal Hong Kong YC cruised down to San Fernando and raced back, this event has had a special place in the hearts of those who have taken part, not only for challenge of the offshore race itself but because they have enjoyed the warmth and camaraderie that surrounds it. It has also, through the support of the children’s home in San Fernando, been more than just a race; the San Fernando Charity Dinner being held on 15 March is a "must attend" event with "red carpet" treatment for the sailors in a spectacular location over-looking the harbor. In other words, it really is a "race to the party" that you simply do not want to miss-- it's for the kids, after all.
As a result, the race itself is a journey and the "means to the worthy ending"! And, it has seen everything the weather Gods could possibly throw at a fleet of sailboats offshore. Once the fleet escapes the warm and friendly confines of Hong Kong's famously busy, choppy harbor waters, the fleet sets off on a 480nm Category 1 Offshore Race from Hong Kong, China to San Fernando, Philippines. The weather can be especially capricious, from warm, sunny, spectacular northerlies pushing the fleet fast under spinnakers in benign "South Pacific" weather to epic monsoon-style storms with fresh to frightening breezes and steep, breaking waves kicked up by the currents.
The lone J/Team sailing this year is WHISKEY JACK, a J/109 owned by Nick Southward. The six crew includes three managing directors of local companies and this year, for the first time, only one lawyer. “Unfortunately we have made a serious tactical error and this year we have no young whipper-snapper, who would otherwise be changing sails as required throughout the race. This means that some of the more statesmen-like members of our crew will have to go forward of the cockpit, something that is unusual to say the least,” says Nick who has one San Fernando under his belt. “Last time, we had 30kts for two days and a steering gear failure which meant spending three hours upside down in the bowels of the boat trying to fix the relevant parts,” he recalls.
WHISKEY JACK has entered the San Fernando “for the pleasure and fun of offshore racing, combined with a decent excuse to get “off the grid” for a few days where there is no email or mobile phone coverage,” says Nick and adds that he’s looking forward to “the first night, which will blow out the cobwebs, and then two more days of spectacular sailing including a visit from the dolphins, when we get closer to the Philippines, tuna sushi (the weight watchers have allowed a special dispensation of fishing gear) and the party on the Sunday night, and we do hope we will get there in time!”
WHISKEY JACK's previous results in offshore races include 2nd IRC Div 2 in the 2012 Rolex China Sea Race, 2nd in IRC in the 2011 Taiwan Straits Race and 4th IRC Div 4 in the 2010 Rolex China Sea Race. We wish them all well, fair winds and fast sailing! For more Royal Hong Kong YC San Fernando Race sailing information