After two days of inshore races on 16 and 17 May, the first offshore leg of the 2013 Korea Cup International Yacht Race commenced on Saturday 18 May from the city of Uljin.
This first of two offshore legs, took the 25 teams on a challenging 86 nautical mile race track offshore to the volcanic island of Ulleung, with light conditions dominating the early stage of the race and really testing the crews as the boats inched forward in the easterly swell and southerly waves.
The race got underway at 1400 hours local time, with separate starts for the ORC fleet and Open Class, under the watchful eyes of the team on the Koreana, a 42 metre four masted schooner which must be one of the most impressive Race Committee boats.
As the fleet headed offshore, away from the eastern coastline of South Korea and out to the East Sea, they were bunched closely together, with no team able to find an advantage as they headed downwind in the light breeze. Fortunately, the breeze increased further offshore and first to seize an advantage were the all Korean crew on the race favourite Linda Vista, an Open 60 who broke free of the pack and increased their lead as they heading off on a northerly track. Behind them, the majority of the fleet opted for a more southerly route, including the other likely contender for line honours, Team Bare Essentials, a 56 foot custom build with a crew from Korea, New Zealand and the USA on board. Equipment damage in the increasing breeze for the crew of Diva, who ripped their spinnaker and were quickly forced into a sail change to stay in the game.
The breeze continued to build further offshore, with the yachts fully powered up and driving downwind with the prospect of faster leg times and an earlier arrival on the volcanic island of Ulleung. As night set in, more teams joined the tussle at the front of the pack, including Team Bare Essentials whose option to take the more southerly route had rewarded them with the lead at the halfway stage of the race. As expected though, the game changes increased under cover of darkness, and after a long night of racing by morning Linda Vista had reclaimed the lead and went on to take the race line honours.
The teams will race an inshore series on Monday 20 May, before heading to the next stop of the race, Dokdo island, from where the second offshore leg back to the city of Uljin gets underway on Tuesday 21 May.
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