The 27th edition of the 565nm Rolex China Sea Race commenced today with a fleet of 34 international yachts. With Hong Kong’s impressive skyscraper skyline forming a domineering backdrop, the fleet made a clean start under a steady easterly breeze of eight knots.
The largest competing boat and favourite for line honours Ragamuffin 90 made a positive start, immediately pulling ahead of the fleet following the 13:20 start in Victoria Harbour. Syd Fischer, Ragamuffin’s legendary Australian skipper, was in confident mood dockside. 'We believe we can get line honours as long as we don’t make mistakes or sit in a hole which can happen in this shifty weather. We’ve got to pay attention to detail. The golden rule for us is to get between the other boats and the finish!'
At 18:00 local time, Ragamuffin 90 maintained her lead over the fleet and lay some 525-nm from the finish. The four 52-ft yachts – Freefire, Hi Fi, Lucky and Standard Insurance Centennial were in close pursuit travelling at a consistent 10 knots. Ragamuffin 90 was forecasting an ETA at the finish line in Subic Bay, The Philippines of around two days, five hours meaning early Friday evening. That would be some way short of the current race record of 47 hours, 43 minutes.
Ernesto Echauz, Standard Insurance Centennial skipper and two-time race winner, was also in buoyant mood. 'It is highly competitive race, with excellent sailors and scientific strategies. To win the key components are teamwork, equipment and good routing.' As the only Philippines entry, Echauz knows his crew will receive a warm welcome at the finish in Subic Bay.
'The long term forecast is for it to go light but that’s the South China Sea at this time of year,' explained Alex Johnston, Sailing Manager of organizers the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYC). It is going to be a very tactically challenging race.'
For more detailed information about the 2014 Rolex China Sea Race including race documents and the current entry list please visit the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club website
TP52 LUCKY passing a traditional boat following the race start in Hong Kong - © Rolex- Kurt