For the Tommy Bahama Around The Island Race 2013, what a day – with the replenishment of the northeast monsoon filling in overnight, many competitors took one look at the conditions and decided that discretion was the better part of valour.
Tommy Bahama Around the Island Race 2013 fleet.
This included the majority of the beach cat classes, where even the most battle hardened sailors took one look at the conditions whipped up by the 15-18kt easterly in the harbour and decided that the 25kts plus and two to three metre seas at Cape D’Aguilar were not for them or their boats.
With 258 entries, this was the biggest prospective fleet recorded for the modern-day 26nm circumnavigation, which Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club has been privileged to run since 2003. Logistics include a team of around 50 volunteers to man on-shore and on-the-water safety and two start lines in front of RHKYC Kellett Island, which feature 19 starts between them. The first starts today were at 0830hrs for the slowest boats, while the last start on the outer line was reserved for Aberdeen Extreme 40, brought into town by sponsor Aberdeen Asset Management.
While most starts feature the most competitive boats trying to gain an advantage by being as close to the line as possible, the Extreme 40 brought to mind a Formula one start, with the boat in neutral several boat lengths off the line until the gun sounded at 1000hrs. As this was an official attempt to break the existing Cariad Trophy record of two hours 41m 57s set by Dennis Wong on Hobie 21 Force eight in December 1990, the official timing team took the actual time that she crossed the line (10:00:18) for record purposes and then weighted anchor to go and have a look at conditions through the final 20% of the course around Green Island and through Western.
With even Cyberport Gate getting a good 20-25kt blow and with Frank Pong’s Jelik passing through Stanley Gate at 1040hrs, Race Officer Inge Strompf-Jepsen decided it was time for the finish team to skedaddle back to the finish box at Kellett Island so that it was not caught out by the faster boats at the head of the fleet.
Just over an hour after starting, Aberdeen Extreme 40 passed through Stanley Gate to enjoy the relatively flat stretch along the south and south west of Hong Kong Island before passing Cyberport Gate 20 minutes later to get onto the home stretch.
According to team member Ting Chan, the Aberdeen Extreme Team was pushing the boat to the limit, and was forced to drop the main twice, once beyond Lei Yue Mun and once at Stanley as it was too windy to bear away – in fact possibly the windiest conditions the helm had faced on an Extreme 40. The spinnaker got a less than five-minute airing along the south side but the catamaran came into Victoria Harbour with FreeFire just in its sights and overhauled the TP52 to finish second on the water after Jelik (which had a 30 minute head start) in a ratified elapsed time of 2h13m11s, placing their name on the HKSF Cariad Trophy, as well as recording the fastest elapsed time for the 2013 Tommy Bahama Race.
As news of dismastings and other misfortunes filtered in throughout the afternoon, the finish team stayed on station to record the remainder of the 170 finishers, with the last boat edging over the line just five minutes before the 1700hr cut-off.
Provisional Results show the winner on ATI corrected time to be Cosmas Grelon on a 29er dinghy, with Wan, Chi Wai in second on a 470 dinghy. Runner up on the past three occasions, Howard Williams placed third with Flying Fifteen Tchaikoffsky ahead of Jamie McWilliam on Etchells Wanchai Belle and Lady Godiva winner Suzanne Downes on 3 x 11. The overall prizegiving will take place tomorrow at RHKYC Kellett Island starting at 1830hrs.