Hong Kong to Vietnam Race - A truly cosmopolitan experience

FreeFire Koko Mueller
At the biennial Hong Kong to Vietnam Race, the entry list for this year’s edition features sixteen boats from around the globe, from the Dubois 90, Ragamuffin 90, through three TP52’s to the smallest competitor, A35 Red Kite II and featuring a lone multihull, MACH2.

The Audi Hong Kong to Vietnam Race will be a truly cosmopolitan experience. Organised by Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, this Category one offshore race is regarded as a ‘must do’ by those sailors who have competed in the previous five editions and word has spread, with this year’s crew lists boasting luminaries from the worlds of VOR, World Match Racing Tour and Youth America’s Cup.

That said, the majority of participants are the sailors who form the bedrock of the Asian racing scene, which in general consists of owner-helmed boats, with Corinthian crew from all points of the compass.

Rolex China Sea Race 2012

Ragamuffin 90 from Australia has her sights firmly set on Line Honours and the 2004 race record of 42h 45m 41s set by Grant Wharington’s Skandia, with her skipper, Syd Fisher, at 86 likely to be the oldest competitor. Programme manager and crew David Witt was moved to say 'he’s a global icon in sailing and to still be seriously competing at 86 is a true inspiration to us all' while noting that the crew for the race 'includes most of the winning crew from the Transpac Race held earlier this year with a few changes…'.

Fisher is unlikely to have things all his own way. Sam Chan’s Freefire is joined by Byron Ehrhart’s Lucky, fresh from the USA with an impressive track record including overall winner of the 2010 Middle Sea Race. Rounding out a trio of TP52’s is Ray Roberts’ One Sails Racing from Australia which comes with pedigree, having won both Line Honours and IRC Overall for the 2006 edition as Island Fling. Owner and helm on that occasion was Paul Winkelmann, who is back for another bite at the cherry with a new ‘Fling, this time a brand new HH42 designed by Judel Vrolijk.

David Ross has entered Ker40 KukuKERchu from Singapore, which will be racing head to head with the Hong Kong owned sister ship, Signal eight. At first glance, Ross seems geared up for a 656nm match race, with a crew featuring Adam Minoprio, Tom Powrie and Phil Robertson, but he maintains that the highlight of the race will be racing with his daughter Mairead – their first Cat.one together and 'a father-daughter race in a fully cooked racing machine'.

RHKYC China Coast Regatta 2011

The self-styled ‘hot 40’s’ are the fastest growing IRC Division in Hong Kong, with Island Fling and the two Kers being joined by A40’s, Sell Side Dream and Avant Garde, and successful Mills 40 EFG Bank Mandrake. Joining this group is Steve Manning’s Singapore-based Sydney GTS 43, Walawala two, competing in her first Cat.one race. Manning is no stranger to asian offshore racing, but he is looking forward to his first Hong Kong to Vietnam Race, as 'one in which the boat will really be able to stretch her legs. All the team is really keen to join this Race specifically because of the fun downwind opportunity.'

While the initial focus will be on the boat which completes the race in the shortest time, there are two smaller IRC Racers, in the form of Anthony Root’s A35 Red Kite II and Niccolo Manno’s Anteros 36 Krampus, which could very well pull some surprises in the IRC standings. Red Kite II has consistently won her division in RHKYC’s Cat.oneoffshore races, winning IRC Overall in the 2011 San Fernando Race, while Krampus is newer to the offshore scene, but built as a stripped out racing machine.

MACH2 is a brand new MC260 high performance catamaran which hopes to upset the predominantly IRC Racer fleet. Owner Raphael Blot is looking forward to 'a game of cat and mouse' with the monohulls in the quest for Line Honours, whilst admitting that the downwind race is perhaps not ideal for showing off the strengths of his boat, which is the demonstration build for the design. Designer Renaud Bañuls (Groupama) will be on board, along with Bruno Laurent (BMW Oracle and Groupama four) to ensure that she fulfills her potential.

Providing the north east monsoon cooperates and regardless of which boats perform best on time or on handicap, the sixth Hong Kong to Vietnam Race promises all competitors the ‘grin factor’ which comes as part of the 656nm run to Vietnam.

FreeFire Koko Mueller

Official Audi Hong Kong to Vietnam Race website at: Event Website