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Hong Kong Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Memorial Vase 2018

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia 13 Feb 20:32 PST
Shrub, HKG 884. HKRNVR Memorial Vase . © Guy Nowell / RHKYC

It’s a bit of a mouthful as titles go, so we’ll stick to ‘the HKRNVR.’ This is the Club’s pursuit race that commemorates the dedicated men of the HKRNVR, many of them members of the RHKYC. A part of their standing orders was to patrol the eastern approaches to Hong Kong in the pre-WW2 years, and so it is that the course for this annual race always goes out beyond Victoria Harbour into the Tathong Channel – the eastern approach to Hong Kong.

Course No. 3: start at Hung Hom, out to TCS4, back to Kowloon Bay, down to Dock Buoy, and finish up at Gate. A shade under 10nm, and a good deal more breeze (6-8kts) on the start line than was evident at the Clubhouse. Bright sunshine, for the most part, made a pleasant change from the last couple of weeks’ unremitting grey skies, but the HK haze was very much in evidence. The breeze was out of an uncharacteristic 135 degrees, meaning that this was essentially a very big windward–leeward course with obstacles (moored ships) and a chicane (Lei Yue Mun) thrown in for additional entertainment.

The eastern side of the harbour was the popular way to get to the Lei Yue Mun gap, avoiding the brunt of the tide, and with lots of boats opting to ‘go close’ on the north shore of the harbour, almost in amongst the lighters, cranes, cement and gravel barges. Anyone looking out of a window in Lam Tin or Yau Tong might have been surprised! Solstice (Pandora, KW Chair) was sailing a great race and held a substantial lead through Lei Yue Mun, but the leader in a pursuit race always gets a crick in the neck from looking over his shoulder, right? By now there a couple of Ruffians and a Dragon (D51, Karl Grebstad) pressing hard from behind, and a brace of Etchells that had started a full 32m after the Pandora.

The continuing beat from Lei Yue Mun to TCS4 looked like a fairly unadventurous piece of race track, but the trick was to be on the right side of a right hand shift and lay the mark on starboard; easy when you know how. After that, and with the tide now helping rather than hindering, it was a case of spinnakers up and play the puffs for all you’re worth. The breeze angle and the Lei Yue Mun chicane meant that the pole boats did better off than the sprits – speed with an A-sail is always very well, but not so good when you have to come back to the centre of the course just halfway down the run. Kowloon Bay mark to port, and by this time the fleet was compressing nicely as it should do in a pursuit race, although the back markers of the fleet were by now languishing in dying pressure all the way back at the entrance to the harbour.

Target time for the race was 16.30, and at 16.20 the first three boats round the bottom mark were Solstice, hanging on to a lead that by now was mere metres, Dragon D51 almost on his transom, and Etchells 912 (Shrub, Jamie McWilliam) threatening from the third row. “So anyway we tacked onto starboard immediately after Dock, sailed round the bow of the two leaders and crossed the finish line first by 90 seconds.” Jamie McWilliam has a talent for making it sound simple. Karl Grebstad (Dragon, D51) and Marty Kaye (Etchells 884) was third. Solstice finished fourth after what turned out to be a close-fought race.

The HKRNVR is also a constituent of the Club’s Top Dog Series – three pursuit races and the Around the Island Race - that is open to all boats and all classes with the intention of identifying the top all-round sailor in the Club. There’s just one event to go, the Tomes Cup which will be raced in April.

HKRNVR 2018 Results

1. Shrub Etchells Jamie McWilliam 16:23:31 2. Mei Fei Dragon Karl J Grebstad 16:25:10 3. Easy Tiger Etchells Marty Kaye 16:25:41 4. Solstice Pandora Chair Kui Wang 16:28:24 5. Taxi Impala Dennis Chien 16:28:35 6. Phoenix Big Boat IRC Victor Kuk/David Ho 16:30:06 7. Diva Deux Etchells Mark Yeadon 16:31:44 8. Incoming Etchells Fleming/Wood 16:32:16 9. Impala 1 Impala Mike Burrell 16:32:24 10. Gunga Din Etchells Ida Cheung/Nick Burns 16:32:31

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