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China Cup International Regatta 2012 – Boats Behaving Badly

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia on 29 Oct 2012
CCIR 2012 - Whiskey Jack flies the flags Guy Nowell © http://www.guynowell.com
‘The sky, beach and the weather here also make a deep impression on the sailors.' (ChinaCup Express) Really? No idea what they are talking about here... But we were very disappointed to miss out on yesterday's 'five hour struggle in the showers'.

‘CCIR is paying more emphasis on brand spirit and concept rather than simply on the products promotion.’ (ChinaCup Express). Presumably the regatta comes second. Or maybe third...

‘Compete fiercely and resolutely support the beer-drinking culture of China Cup International Regatta.’ (Whiskey Jack slogan).

Day 2. The view from the rail of Whiskey Jack (again).

If this report seems a little WJ-centric, we do not apologise. Diametrically opposite to the way that China Cup reports itself as a whole collection of events with a regatta thrown in, these reports are written from the point of a competitor on the racecourse and with the same collection of events thrown in and ignored. Please draw your own conclusions.

Moving swiftly on from the monochrome breakfast at the Pattaya Hotel, and after a pleasant 45-minute doze on the bus en route to Longcheer, sailors were greeted by flapping flags, clattering halyards and 15kts of breeze in the marina. Time to go sailing.

Two sausages (course 6) for everyone except IRC 1 (an extra sausage). The Beneteau 40.7 division started first with 20 of the 26 boats trying to fit into the ten yards of the start line closest to the Committee Boat – probably the best place to be at that point was on the top deck of Kellett VI, watching the drama unfold mere feet away and listening to happy exchange of words between crews. A couple of hundred yards away on Whiskey Jack we could hear it all, and although Cantonese and Mandarin are not the first language of any of the crew we could still recognise some hard words in the hubbub.

Four minutes later, approaching the line with under a minute to go, we were surprised to be rolled by a Swan 83 that arrived on our starboard quarter with pace, failed to respond to luffing calls of ‘Up! Up!’, rolled straight through and across in front of us and steamed off down the line. Maybe that rattled the Whiskey Jacks – instead of sticking to the carefully planned ‘go right’ protocol, we went left and lost out badly. Catching up with the back markers of the 40.7OD fleet made for an altogether too exciting leeward rounding in traffic that looked like Hong Kong Central in rush hour, organised by Hong Kong minibus drivers about to go off shift. Preferably something never to be repeated in this lifetime.

With the breeze swinging hard right and a sea breeze building past 12kts, the RO called another course 6 and off we went again. This time a planned boat end start began perfectly but went badly awry when the big Swan appeared (again) from the back row, barged through the fleet of smaller boats that had just crossed the line, and thundered away leaving in her wake some shaking knees and more than one skipper wondering if the value of his boat might not have suddenly increased in value by the addition of a few microns of Swan gelcoat to the topsides. It was, in truth, a scary experience. Once again, the right side of the course paid and the breeze held. And lo and behold out came the sun. Top mark for IRC 1 and the 40.7s was set at 1nm, and 0.8nm for everyone else, making for another short sharp race (40mins) with little or no chance to recover from any mistakes – it was good short-course racing in good conditions. In fact, just about as good as it gets, anywhere.

Third race, course 6 again, and Whiskey Jack’s principal start plan was to stay as far away as possible from any large Swans in the general vicinity – a simple strategy that worked well and produced a stress-free start, a sparkling first beat, a dancing run and a nail-biting close quarters leeward rounding that worked nicely when A35 Andiamo left the door open just a couple of inches (but it could easily have been a different story!), and then a second lap with more of the same for a third place on the water and second on handicap.

The Race Management provided quality racing today, and are to be congratulated. In fact, it was as good a day’s racing as we have ever seen at China Cup, and just as good a day’s racing as we have seen at any other of the Asia region regattas. Back at the dock, and it was evident that we weren’t the only boat load of sailors who had been enjoying themselves. 90-odd race boats in one marina, from the Far East 26s up to the IRC 1 racers and the (even bigger) IRC 2 cruisers, makes for a festive atmosphere that was all the better for the addition of a little rum and ginger beer followed by a Tsingtao on the hardstanding. All in all, a great day’s sailing.

Back at Da Mei Sha, tonight’s prizegiving party took place on the expansive terrace of the Sheraton Hotel, complete with live entertainment. Weather forecast for tomorrow says ‘more of the same’ which – statistically – is a safe bet. See you on the water for day 3 of CCIR 2012.

Day 3 – A Grand Day Out

Some of the Whiskey Jacks were looking a little dusty this morning. Nothing to do with last night’s prizegiving followed by a sojourn in a karaoke bar accompanied by a bottle of whisky. Nothing at all.

Out on the water at 1000hrs for an 1100hrs start, 5kts on the windward mark swinging between 30 and 80?, and we were slacking off the rig. But after the trip back down to the starting area it was 18-20kts from 100? and we were tightening the rig with just 9 minutes to go before the start. Never mind, it was a good clean start with no Swans in sight, and a punchy beat to follow. The hoist was good too, but the gybe wasn’t. In fact, the wrap was still firmly in place as we rounded the bottom mark.

The hoist for the second run was a bit substandard too, with the kite wrapping itself as it went up, and the net result was a finish under jib at the very back of the division. All of a sudden, yesterday’s fifth place didn’t look like a discard any longer. An even worse morning for Yomovo when a D1 gave way and dropped the rig, and Surfdude who had an unscheduled meeting with a port-tack Beneteau 40.7 and lost her mast as well. There was also news of a FarEast 26 and the boom of a big Swan, but this is strictly unconfirmed at press time.

Race 6, Islands Course #3. ‘Islands race can be considered as a special harbour race, replacing the buoys with islands, reefs or lighthouses. Participating sailboats are required to circle such fixed marks.’ (Extract from the CCIR Service Manual – A Treat for Charms of Sailing’). While we anxiously waited for the Race Committee to replace the buoys with islands (or reefs, or lighthouses) we disentangled the spin halyard from the forestay, tidied up, and had another Red Bull.

It was a good powerful beat out to sea towards the Daya Bay Needles, and we hung on to the A40, Sea Wolf, all the way. Then a bear away to port onto an A-sail reach, a gybe to port at a navigation mark, and a full-blooded power reach back across the bay to the finish. 9-10kts on the clock felt pretty good until 500 yards before the finish line when the spinnaker suddenly split down the middle and turned into French underwear. All in all, a cracking afternoon’s sailing.

Stories from other parts of the racecourse: B40.7 Vatti, presently in with a tilt at the Beneteau OD division, started her Islands course under jib only (broken main halyard – call Maintenance, please), ran a new halyard and then worked her way through the entire fleet for her second bullet of the day. Hats off to Tim Somerville, Jonno Rankine and the boys in the yellow shirts. Bits and Pieces finished, and then found that a halyard had jumped the sheave and they couldn’t get the spinnaker down. ‘There were a few surprised people on the beach near the marina,’ reported one crew member. After a local rescue RIB had come and had a look, and promptly zoomed away, Whiskey Jack stood by until they were safely under engine and heading for the marina.

There were plenty of notes to be compared and heroic stories to be told back at the dock. The sun was shining, the flags were flying, and once again proof was made positive that all sailors really want is some breeze, a good race, and a drink afterwards. Simple stuff. Last night we all missed out on the ‘Sailing Spirit Grand Ceremony Knighting Ritual - Access to participate: Invitation’ and today we weren’t invited to the ‘Night of Vatti – Access to participate; Vatti Night Prize-giving Ticket’, but it really didn’t matter. Everyone had had a first class day’s racing, and all that was needed to round off a great day on the water was rum or two in the cockpit. Can do.

Lastly, we’d like to advise you of a couple of ‘Tips for Spectators’, courtesy of the CCIR Service Manual:

‘It is said that sailing is dangerous; it is said that sailing is exciting; and it is said that sailing is extremely exciting… Well if you want to experience this most exciting sport, come and join us. Yet, before you take action, please read this manual patiently.

As sailing is a stylish sea sport, the spectators are advised to wear sports clothes and ladies are advised to avoid wearing high-heeled shoes. [Especially on the marina pontoons]

Do not bring any inflammable or explosive with you. [Really? And what exactly were you thinking of packing in your Prada handbag?]

Come and witness the demeanour of the sea warriors and the magnificent scenes of the sailing race.’

Until tomorrow, this is one weary sea warrior signing off.

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