St. Regis China Coast Regatta attracts top quality fleet

St Regis International China Coast Regatta 2012 - day 3 - Ambush, Elektra
Entries to Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s flagship Big Boat regatta have now closed with 42 competitors looking forward to three days of racing in 15 to 20kts of breeze in the waters off the south of Hong Kong Island from 12 to 14 October.

Race Officer Inge Strompf-Jepsen will set courses selected from a range of windward/leeward, geometric and islands courses; tailoring the length of races to the performance of the seven participating classes.

Four boats will compete in the IRC Racing 0 class, with regulars Freefire and Jelik welcoming overseas competition in the shape of Syd Fisher’s Ragamuffin 90 and Ray Roberts’ TP52 OneSails Racing which, as a two-time China Coast Regatta champion (as Evolution Racing) will be hard to beat.

IRC Racing 1, also known as the Roaring 40s, is slightly reduced from previous years, with nine entries. However, these exude quality, with three overseas entrants offering some new competition to the usual Hong Kong stalwarts. Setting up a Ker 40 battle with the homeboys on Signal 8 is David Ross’ KukuKERchu which in RHKYC’s recent IP Global Autumn Regatta took second place in IRC Div 1.

Another sister-ship act is the head-to-head between Marcel Liedts’ GTS43 Elektra and Steve Manning’s Walawala 2. Manning has competed in the regatta before on the previous incarnation of Walawala, but this is the Sydney yacht’s first outing into the lumpy, bumpy waters near Lamma.

Newly arrived in Hong Kong, and - as this will be her first competitive outing - a completely unknown quantity, is Paul Winkelmann’s HH42, Island Fling. However in bringing his regular crew and extensive knowledge of racing in Hong Kong waters, Winkelmann is sure to set a stiff challenge. The division is rounded out with Andy Lam’s X-41, Orient Express and the MC38, Hua An, now owned by Luo Peinan and Li Qing.

St Regis International China Coast Regatta 2012 - day 2 - Jelik crosses Red Kite

Also a healthy size, IRC Racing 2 has increased its numbers to 11, most of whom have extensive experience of this regatta. Joining ‘old hands’ Dexter II and defending champion Red Kite II is fellow Archambault 35 Andiamo, skippered by Lai Ka Fai. The division is positively awash with Archambaux, having an additional three Archambault 40’s in the shape of Josh Cole’s Avant Garde, Simon Powell’s Sell Side Dream and visiting yacht, Seawolf skippered by Liu Yong Feng. The minority of the fleet is made up of a variety of J -Boatss, X-Yachts and Sydneys, plus grizzled competitor Rampage, the Tripp 40 skippered by Denis Ma.

The St. Regis China Coast Regatta tries to offer something for everyone, and not everyone wants to campaign a stripped out racer - so the IRC Premier Cruising class offers more islands courses and fewer windward/leewards for the more ‘comfortable’ boats such as Moonblue 2, Lighthorse and Clove Hitch.

Some owners have much-loved older and/or heavier models and are placed in the IRC Cruising class, while there is a division for those owners who prefer to compete on Performance Handicap. This division features a pleasing number of HKPN entrants (9) including Barracuda, and TT from China who are experiencing the regatta for the first time.

The China Coast Race Committee has been very pleased to see an increasing interest from China racing yachts in joining the regatta, and hopes to continue the Club’s engagement with China’s sailors through its China Sailing Subcommittee. These classes have a reduced number of races in their Regatta series, but are guaranteed competitive racing.

If it sounds as if it’s all about the racing, nothing could be further from the truth, and the shore-based activities get underway on Thursday 10 October with the Skippers’ Briefing. Competitors are then welcomed to China Coast Race Week with the Mount Gay Rum Welcome Drinks at RHKYC Kellett Island on Friday 11 October, and party again on the hardstand at Middle Island with the Heineken Dock Party on the Saturday. Socials are rounded out with the Poolside Prizegiving on the final day of the Regatta, back at Kellett Island.

St Regis International China Coast Regatta 2012 - day 1 - Peninsula Signal 8