This year was the ninth year of the Interschool Regatta organised by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and once again it broke all records. A total of 148 sailors in 20 teams took part, including one school team from Macau. The teams were split into two divisions, RS Feva and RS Q’Ba. A total of 98 races were sailed over two days consisting of a round-robin format before the petit and grand finals.
Conditions on day one at Middle Island were without doubt some of the windiest this event has seen. Sailors from Renaissance College said 'we are not very experienced as a team, so it was difficult for us in some of the weather conditions, but it hasn’t put us off'. Rather than racing all four flights at the same time the Race Committee went for the conservative approach of reefing the Feva and Q’ba dinghies ashore, and also by running only one division at a time while the other was tied up at the pontoon. This gave the sailors more space as they sped around the race course and also allowed some of the Umpires to act as additional Safety Boats.
There were plenty of capsizes but sailors from Chiu Lut Sau Memorial Secondary School like many others enjoyed the challenging conditions and said ‘we loved the wind and the gusts’. With only seven races completed in two hours, the target of 56 by the end of day one wasn’t looking achievable. However, the Race Committee had faith in the forecast that it would ease off, so opted for an early lunch break. Within the hour the breeze had dropped to around 12 knots and racing got underway again with all four flights racing on a rolling start, and fro there on all races were kept short in order to catch up with the schedule. By 1430 hrs the wind had dropped sufficiently that it was possible to shake out the reefs in the sails, and conditions were near ideal for the rest of the afternoon.
Overnight leaders in the Feva Division were South Island School with six race wins out of six! The team said 'we worked well as a team, we were all talking to each other and sharing ideas and information all the time'. In the Q’ba Division it was Hong Kong Sea School leading with five out of five races wins who said 'it’s much more fun than last year because we’ve got so much wind, but we feel under pressure to defend our title'.
Sailors arrived on day two to contrasting light winds but signs were promising that there would still be enough breeze to complete the remaining 46 races. Sailors from Sha Tin College said 'the changing weather from gusts of wind on the first morning to more steady sailing on the second day made for interesting sailing'. It was Sha Tin College who would go onto finish top of the Feva Round Robin stage after winning a protest to have their race again South Island School re-sailed and which they consequently won. In the Q’ba Division Hong Kong Sea School lost their first race against the HK Schools Sailing Association who normally sail out of Tai Mei Tuk in the New Territories. Sailors from that team commented that 'it’s a great festival because you get a mix of ages and abilities in all the teams'.
Tie-break rules had to be used to decide 16 of the 20 positions at the end of the round-robin, so close was the competition. Island School went on to beat King George V School in the third and fourth playoff in the Feva Division, while in the Q’ba Division West Island School got the better of Island School to finish third.
The Feva final was particularly close between Sha Tin College and South Island School but it was South Island that went on to take the Feva Division Championship with a 2 -0 win in a best of three race final.
Hong Kong Sea School also won with a 2-0 result against HK Schools Sailing Association to take the Q’Ba Division Championship.
RHKYC Commodore Ambrose Lo and Peter Davies from the event Sponsor Neil Pryde awarded the prizes to the first four teams in each Division in a prize giving that took place on the RHKYC hardstanding shortly after the finals were completed. The weekend’s Race Officer, Andrew Moore, awarded the Fragrant Harbour prizes that are fun prizes that support the great atmosphere at the event.
The event has grown every year and this year was no exception. This can’t happen without the support of sponsors including Neil Pryde who provided the event rash vest for all the sailors. Tibet Spring Water provided free water all weekend. Prizes were also donated by RS Sailboats HK and Fragrant Harbour. Logistically, the event was only as big as it was because of the generous support of the Aberdeen Boat Club as well as all the volunteers who made up the Race Committee, Umpires and team leaders from the schools. It was a huge but extremely worthwhile effort from everyone involved and it is exciting to hear people already talking about next year!
1st - South Island School
2nd - Sha Tin College
3rd - Island School
4th- King George V School
1st- Hong Kong Sea School
2nd - Hong Kong Schools Sailing Association
3rd - West Island School
4th - Island School
Event Website and Full Results www.rhkyc.org.hk/interschools.htm
Final words from just a few of the 140 sailors that took part:
‘There was such a contrast of sailing conditions over the weekend, which made it great fun. My partner and I were less than 70 kilos combined so we struggled when it was gusty but flew when we were up! I’m enjoying my school friends getting a glimpse of my weekend world.’
King George V School
‘There were intense period of extreme action mixed with short periods of calm. We really pulled together as a team and helped each other out.’
South Island School
‘The sailing was really competitive and such fun.’
Jockey-Club Tri-l College
‘It was my first time taking part in this festival and parts when it was really windy were very scary but exhilarating and fun. I would definitely take part again next year.’
Macau Anglican College
‘Our guys are quite light this year so they are having to use all their skill.’
‘It’s great fun, we are enjoying the difference of weather.’
‘It’s good to see sailors from different clubs and schools all crossing over.’
‘It’s an interesting festival because there is a wide spread of ages.’
‘Everyone here is linked by school or sailing club, we’re all friends, or friends of friends once removed, which makes for strong teams and a great atmosphere.’
‘This is the first time our school have entered this festival – we’re pioneers.’
‘It’s been brilliant to be part of this festival and next year we will be ready and fully prepared.’
‘We’re sailing with friends and against friends which is awesome.’
‘I’m enjoying sharing my weekend hobby with my friends from school.’
Chinese International School
‘If you’re ahead in team racing you keep looking behind, behind because you’re hopeful for your team mates, it’s about you all doing well together. It’s a lot of fun.’
German Swiss International School
‘It’s very good, we were here last year as well.’
‘The weather is challenging but it makes it more interesting.’
‘We will be here next year to compete again.’
Chai Lut Sau Memorial Secondary School
‘The wind, the food and the music made it a special weekend.’