Entries to Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s flagship Big Boat regatta closed last night, with 36 competitors looking forward to three days of racing in 15 to 20 knots of breeze in the waters off the south of Hong Kong Island starting this Friday, 12 October. Race Officer Charlie Manzoni will set courses selected from a range of windward/ leeward, geometric and islands courses, tailoring the length of races to the six participating Classes.
Six boats will compete in the IRC Racing 0 class, with regulars Freefire, Jelik and Tornado II welcoming new competition in the shape of Antipodes, the Santa Cruz 72 recently brought into Hong Kong by stalwart racer, Geoff Hill and Helmut Hennig’s new weapon of choice, Marten 49 Vineta. The class is rounded out by the welcome return of Jelik V, campaigned by Stephen Tan and Ernesto Echauz who have run the gauntlet of the region’s seasonal typhoons to deliver the boat up to Hong Kong for the competition.
IRC Racing 1, also known as the ‘Roaring 40’s’ is slightly reduced from previous years, with 10 entries, however these exude quality, and this is sure to be a fiercely contested class with previous champions Ambush and EFG Bank Mandrake taking on new kids on the block, Ker 40 Peninsula Signal 8, Anteros 36, Krampus and the latest incarnation of Marcel Liedts’ Elektra, a Sydney GTS. While many of the ‘40’s have contested China Coast Regatta in previous years, many are under new ownership so represent an unknown quantity. RHKYC Commodore and co-owner of Ambush, Joachim Isler, gave an insider’s view;
'It looks like we have a very competitive division which in any case means we will have a cracking regatta. Without question EFG Bank Mandrake is the favourite. Pen 8 will be quite a threat after having gained so much more boat experience on their tour to England and Ireland. Elektra has been doing very well recently and is surely a contender. Our recent handicap changes will make it very hard for us, but we do have an excellent crew on the boat and under the baton of guest conductor Bruce Taylor, the likeable dentist from Melbourne, I am sure we have every chance to Ambush the favourites.'
Also a healthy size, IRC Racing 2 features nine entrants, most of whom have extensive experience of this regatta. Joining ‘old hands’ such as Gambit, Whiskey Jack and defending champion Red Kite II is Beneteau 34.7, Goddess, recently purchased by a consortium of five sailors who met when they signed up for a beginners’ sailing course at RHKYC several years ago, together with China Cup No. 9, a Beneteau 40.7 which will be helmed by Malaysian racer, Tiffany Koo and crewed by a combination of sailing students from Shenzhen and Hainan. The crew recently performed well in their first formal regatta, so may prove to be a dark horse!
St. Regis International China Coast Regatta offers something for everyone. Not everyone wants to campaign a stripped out racer, so the IRC Premier Cruising class offers more islands courses and fewer windward / leewards for comfortable boats such as Xena, Lighthorse and Clove Hitch. Some owners have much loved older or heavier models and are placed in the IRC Classic / Cruising class, while there is a division for those owners who prefer to compete on Performance Handicap, HKPN. These classes also have a reduced number of races in their Regatta series, but are guaranteed competitive racing.
If it sounds as if it’s all about the racing, nothing could be further from the truth, and the shore-based activities get underway tonight (Wednesday) with the Skippers’ Briefing and SKYY Vodka Welcome Drinks at RHKYC Kellett Island.
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2:41 AM Wed 10 Oct 2012GMT
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