San Fernando Race 2013 - a start of fits and starts

San Fernando Race 2013 - starting in front of the RHKYC clubhouse, Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong
At the pre-race skippers’ briefing, Hong Kong Observatory offered much in the way of cloud, rain and squally thunderstorms. Good reason for crews to depart an unseasonably chilly Hong Kong and head for San Fernando where, undoubtedly, 'It’s More Fun in the Philippines!'

Yesterday’s start took place under heavy cloud and the sort of all-pervading gloom that made it look more like 1800h than 1330h. Rain threatened, but never quite happened as Race Officer Simon Boyde cheated the wind gods yet again and managed to find 8kts of NE which – assisted by an ebbing tide – was plenty good enough to send the 24 strong fleet off in front of Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour.

Antipodes took the line at the pin, but the majority of the fleet fancied the Hong Kong island side. Judes Echauz’s TP52, Centennial III, scooted across the fleet from the Clubhouse end, hooked into the outgoing tide and was absolutely launched down the harbour. Keeping well to the right going down the harbour, she was first to the Lei Yue Mun gap, stalled for no more than a moment as she slipped through a developing hole, and popped out towards the Junk Bay landfill and Fat Tong Mun flying a spinnaker, hugged the bricks along Tung Lung Chau towards Tat Hong Point, and then away in clear,if only moderate, breeze.

Nearest following boats, Antipodes and Peninsula Signal 8, had a tougher time of it, spending rather longer looking for breeze at Lei Yue Mun. Behind them the hole seemed to grow and grow, until by the time the camera boat headed home from checking out the leaders most of the TCS channel had become a problem, with boats pointing every which way and with no breeze to give them direction.

Subic Centennial III - San Fernando Race 2013

The smaller IRC boats spent a good deal of time becalmed before EFG Bank Mandrake and Red Kite II were able to recommence their quest for IRC glory. IRC Overall will be a tough prize to predict, with Zanzibar keen to replicate her Rolex China Sea Race 2012 success, and Red Kite II fired up to make it three SFR’s in a row. However, it’s still ‘early days’ and the race can often be decided by the diurnal breeze as the boats hit the land shadow of the Philippines.
By the time Standard Insurance Centennial and Antipodes were past Shek O, all boats had been piped through Lei Yue Mun (just), with Diamond Queen, Wonderwall, Sea Monkey and Allegro guarding the rear.

At 1500h today, 25½ hrs into the race, Antipodes leads the fleet with 255nm to the finish – a little over half way, but with winds sure to ease towards the Luzon coast it is probably not half way on elapsed time. A look at the Yellowbrick tracker ( shows the familiar pattern on the fleet being headed to south of the rhumb line – all except Standard Insurance Centennial III and Jonno Mahoney and the ‘Zanziboys’ on board Zanzibar – a crew that can usually be counted on to do something different!

Supported by the Philippines Department of Tourism and definitely proving that ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines!’ (just take a look at the Hong Kong weather) the race ends in San Fernando, Luzon Province and all the crews will be looking forward to blue seas and skies, and a cold beer, at the end of the race.

Peninsula Signal 8 - San Fernando Race 2013

Present leaders 1500h Thu 28 March
Antipodes: first Line Honours, first IRC 0, second IRC Overall
Peninsula Signal 8: first IRC Overall, first IRC 1, fifth Line Honours
Talking Head: first IRC 2, 10th IRC Overall, 15th Line Honours
Moonblue II: first Premier Cruising, third IRC Overall, fourth Line Honours
Hedonist: first IRC Cruising, 15th IRC Overall, 21st Line Honours
Wonderwall: first HKPN, 16th Line Honours