With FreeFire limping in to Vietnam with rudder and bowsprit damage, the IRC Racing Division 0 prizes were all settled before midnight on day 3, however the IRC Division 1 battle was just hotting up.
Widely fancied to take the division, Zanzibar, skippered by Jonathan Mahony, arrived at a wet, cold finish line at just after 0500hrs HKT. Giving the other boats in her division ‘time’ under her IRC handicap, Mahoney and his crew had a nail-biting wait of 4.5 hours to see if they had clinched the Division on corrected time.
The breeze was picking up, and both EFG Bank Mandrake and Ambush had a good last hour as they neared the North Cardinal for the final tack towards the finish line. EFG Bank Mandrake pipped Ambush by exactly five minutes on the water, an incredible finish after 656nm of racing, however after correction, Zanzibar emerged triumphant by only eight minutes over the Kinmonth/ Burns owned Mills 40.
On shore, Kinmonth was delighted, saying 'The race down was absolutely fantastic fun. We had a couple of slightly hairy moments, one on a spinnaker change when it got stuck and we had to send ‘Fletch’ up the mast to spike it, and a couple of others coming around the Paracels'
Asked whether the 40 foot version of Mandrake was more fun than the previous 50 foot incarnation, Kinmonth responded that 'it was a different experience, but it was fun to have close racing with Ambush. We pulled into a lead and somehow managed to sail deeper and get inside them but is was a nerve-racking finish as they had a code zero and the wind died and there was a strong tide coming in to the finish'.
Joachim Isler and Drew Taylor were gracious in defeat, with Isler noting that EFG Bank Mandrake had made a good decision in cutting down the size of their jib to reduce their IRC rating, especially as the race is predominantly downhill. 'All credit to them, they made a good decision and sailed well. They still managed to sail well in China Coast Regatta (with the reduced jib) and they deserve the win.'
With a second in division in the VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race, EFG Bank Mandrake has sewn up China Coast Race Week for the first time, and has laid down the gauntlet for Asia’s other 40 footers.