Never underestimate a seasoned campaigner. Neil Pryde’s Welbourne 52 HiFi crossed the finish line of the Rolex China Sea Race 2014 at Grande Island, Subic Bay this morning at 1107h, third on the water behind Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin 90 and Bryon Ehrhart’s TP52 Lucky, to jump into the top spot for IRC Overall. Right now, it’s looking-over-the-shoulder time, but the next boats due to finish are 100nm away, and there are reports of a dying breeze.
'It was a truly excellent race,' said Pryde, 'quite possibly the best we’ve ever had. Not tough because it blew a lot, but tough because we never lost sight of FreeFire and Lucky for the whole race. Top wind speed was only about 15kts, but the angles were good, making for fast sailing all the way. We were fully powered up all the time, spinnaker reaching. There was a soft spot approaching Subic Bay, but we never actually stopped – almost, but not quite!'
How do you cope with the intensity of 565nm with the opposition in your binoculars? 'Good boat, good crew, good preparation. And a little bit of salty good luck.'
Pryde won the China Sea Race in 1998 (Sunstreaker) and in 2010 (HiFi). Nobody has won it three times. Yet.