In the Round Hainan Regatta, Aloha and Team Wanning made the most of a light-air day and scored commanding victories in Wednesday's in-port race in Haikou. As the breeze increased, Microlab took the early lead in the offshore race to Sanya, setting the stage for the grand finale on Friday.
The 8-strong fleet of the IRC-A and Beneteau Oceanis 40 divisions battled it out on Wednesday, off Haikou, with one in-port race and the start of the final leg of their offshore race to Sanya. A light breeze and fog was in store early in the morning, making the in-port race a difficult one.
In the IRC-A division, Aloha took the upper hand in the in-port race thanks to their tactical choice in the first beat. With a breeze blowing at about 5-6 knots, Aloha found more pressure on the right-hand side of the course while Microlab struggled on the left. They rounded the first weather mark in the lead and held on to it until the finish line.
As the fog dissipated and the breeze picked up to 10 knots, Microlab, a 52-footer, was, obviously, more advantaged than Aloha, a 45-footer. They sailed ahead in the first long beat that took the fleet out of the Haikou gulf and into the South China Sea, towards Sanya.
Team Wanning, entirely crewed by Russian sailors and skippered by Sergey Amelichev, showed once again to be in a league of their own. Their tactics and crew work set them apart from the remaining four Beneteau Oceanis 40's. In the in-port race, they had a perfect start in the middle of the line, opted for the more favorable right-hand side of the course and crossed the finish line with a comfortable lead.
Their domination continued again in the start of the offshore leg, as they took the lead from the outset and stretched it as the boats sailed east towards Sanya.
The IRC-B1 and IRC-B2 divisions had a layday on Wednesday in Wanning, and will hold their in-port race on Thursday, before heading back to Sanya for their final offshore leg. The entire fleet is expected to arrive in Sanya in the early morning hours of Friday for the grand finale of the fifth edition of the Aloha Cup Round Hainan Regatta.