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RHKYC Spring Regatta - turned out nice again!

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia 26 May 22:02 PDT 22-23 May 2021
Enjoying the harbour scenery. RHKYC Spring Regatta sponsored by HSBC Expat © RHKYC / Guy Nowell

RHKYC Spring Regatta 2021 sponsored by HSBC Expat: the RHKYC’s Spring Regatta is the season closer. “Summer is a-comin in”, and the mercury is rising (36.1 C on Sunday afternoon. Phew!). The breeze drops off for the summer (unless there’s a typhoon passing through), and half the sailing population gets on a plane and ships out for cooler climes.

But wait! Of course, none of us are getting on planes these days, and nobody is going anywhere. Maybe that’s why there was a record entry of 118 boats for the weekend 22-23 May. 32 in the Big Boat divisions, including Asia’s first-ever start for a TP52 class, and then add in 21 Etchells, 14 Dragons, and 13 Flying 15s, and all of a sudden the harbour started to look almost crowded.

For those of us that spend a lot of time on the water in Hong Kong, and on the harbour in particular, get pretty blasé about the scenery. Victoria Harbour is no longer the mad conglomeration of moored vessels and incessant traffic that it once was; the big commercial traffic has shifted off to the container port long since, but it's still busy. And when you fill it up wth racing boats it's really busy! Traffic jams at rounding mark made the everything look more like one big pursuit race than a series of class fleet races all happening at the same time. Where else can you tack underneath a double decker bus, cruise past 2,000ft hills, pass the occasional pink car ferry, race along a practically disused cruise terminal and bounce off the harbour wall in front of 40-storey apartment blocks? Visitors gasp and gawp. Most of us don't even notice. Ok so you are concentrating on the next shift, or working out how much room you need to get round the mark against a foul tide, but get your head out of the boat occasionally and do some gawping and gasping!

It was the usual three-race card – one on Saturday and two on Sunday. Saturday presented itself with fabulous blue skies but, alas, precious little breeze; never mind, that sorted itself out for the most part, with a 10kts breeze filling in across the race course except for the bits that didn’t quite get it. There were holes and there were bullets, and that’s what you get when the breeze is from the south and HK island gets in the way. Some of the mark roundings at the eastern end of the harbour (Tai Koo Shing, Shau Kei Wan) were conducted in marginal breeze and against a contrary tide, producing the predictable catalogue of contacts.

Having a new division of TP52s on the water has occasioned new courses to be added to the Club SSIs. The bigger the boat, the longer the legs needed to make things work. Usually the only races that go through Lei Yue Mun are the Around the Island and the HKRNVR Memorial Vase. New course #318 14.6nm goes to Shek O Rock (‘SOR’) and back again, then turns triangles in the harbour. Shawn Kang’s Alpha+ (formerly Luna Rossa) went the distance in just 2h 23m to win the first race (and she won the next two, too). Division 1 Big Boats went slightly less far, turning at TCS4. Inside the harbour, and with the breeze still southerly, the rest of the fleets were racing triangles round Tai Koo Shing, Kowloon Bay, and PWD marks, with all the finishes at PWD.

Sunday started even hotter if that was possible, and the Race Officer was keen to start on time and put another completed race on the card. The first race for Big Boats 0 was over in 1h 01m – hardly time enough to get the kite up and down. So with a building breeze that topped out at 14kts, the second race was longer – much longer for some. The breeze was there, but it was an exhausting day on the water for those whose afternoon races took more than two hours to finish.

Nevertheless, this really was Hong Kong with her best party frock on. Clear skies, blue skies, and breeze made for solid gold racing. RO Barry Truhol noted later, “when we checked the breeze first thing this morning, there wasn’t even a hint of the Observatory’s promised southerly. So we went for easterly courses, and it all came good!

Thank you to the Race Committee and all the volunteers who helped make it all happen. An extra-polite thank you to HSBC Expat for signing up as sponsors at a time when C-19 social distancing restrictions doesn't even permit a prize giving to take place. Your assistance in keeping harbour racing alive and well is much appreciated. Curious note: the Ruffian class was won by Nick Bryan (Buster) who is a retired HSBC banker (and also a member of Hong Kong's very exclusive Olympic Sailors' Club).

Full results can be found at at www.rhkyc.org.hk/sailingresults.aspx#SPRING%20REGATTA%20-%20RESULTS

A full album of photos, showing off RHKYC racing and Victoria Harbour at its very best, can be found at www.guynowell.com > Galleries > Yachting & Marine > 2021 Spring Regatta, or just click here: www.guynowell.com/-/galleries/new-gallery/2021-rhktc-spring-regatta-sponsored-by-hsbc-expa

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