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30th edition China Coast Regatta at Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club

by RHKYC Media 17 Oct 2022 03:34 PDT 14-16 October 2022

2022 marked the 30th edition of the China Coast Regatta. Based out of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club's Middle Island water sports training centre; 29 boats competed in a variety of windward/leeward, geometric and island courses in the waters south and east of Hong Kong Island, in the most superb sailing conditions that Hong Kong has to offer.

China Coast Regatta was introduced in 1993 by Steve Ellis as a replacement event for the China Sea Race Series, which had been broken up by the re-scheduling of the China Sea Race to Easter. The new format event would be held annually during the month of October, an ideal time of year for sailing in Hong Kong with the onset of the northeast winter monsoon. Ellis anticipated that the new event would become part of the Asian 'big boats' circuit along with the Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta (Malaysia), the Phuket King's Cup (Thailand), and the Singapore Straits Regatta (Singapore).

The first race day got under way on 14 October in perfect conditions across the racetrack, with blue skies and a solid 16 to 18kts north easterly breeze on a lumpy sea. 21 boats took to the racetrack, which was located southeast of Hong Kong's Lamma Island.

All IRC racing divisions were completed three windward-leeward three-lap races on a 1.1nm beat. The breeze softened to around 11kts with a flattening sea as the day progressed, but the fleet still enjoyed great sailing conditions, with sailors returning home exhausted after an intense day on the water.

Race Officer David Norton was pleased with how day 1 went, saying "The conditions were much better than we had expected; there was great wind for the first two races, and although the wind shifted right and dropped to 6kts at the end, I think we made the most of the day. All boats had to work very hard in challenging conditions, but we are one race ahead of schedule and well set for tomorrow. "

Day 2 was in complete contrast to Friday's perfect conditions. Although clear sunny skies prevailed, there was a measly 6 to 8kts of north-easterly breeze to start the day. Eight entries from the HKPN division joined the racing fleet, including Niccolo Manno's trimaran Carbon 3. Recently returning to the racing scene, she was unfortunately unable to show off her full potential and stunning speed due to the lack of breeze.

Race Officer David Norton set a 17nm islands course for IRC Race Divisions 0 and 1 that took the competitors to a mark near TCS2, leaving Po Toi and Sung Kong to port, before finishing off Stanley peninsula. All other divisions raced a 10nm around Beaufort Island and on to Bluff Head. With a significant drop in the wind to around 3kts during the race, the race management team shortened the HKPN division to finish in the Beaufort Channel, with only two boats failing to make the cut-off.

The breeze returned for day three, with the strong monsoon signal hoisted prior to racing, bringing with it the promise of champagne sailing conditions. The day kicked off in 8 to 10kts of a north-westerly breeze at the southeast of Lamma Island race area.

All IRC racer divisions were sent on three two-lap windward/leeward courses and the HKPN division were given one windward/leeward followed by an 11nm island course, taking them around Po Toi and Sung Kong before finishing off Stanley. A steady increase in both wind and sea state saw the third race for all IRC fleets culminate in 15 to 20kts of breeze under a sunny blue sky - the ultimate conditions in which to conclude the regatta.

At the end of three days of racing, having completed their scheduled seven races, all IRC divisions enjoyed one discard. With tight racing for all IRC Racer divisions, IRC Racer 0 comprising of four TP52s and Marcel Liedts' Ker 46 Zannekin, saw a new leader every day of the regatta. Amongst the five strong giants, the boats yo-yoed up and down the standings. Sam Chan's FreeFire took two firsts to give him the overall lead at the end of Day 1, however Noel Chan's Rampage88 put in a massive chase in the final leg of day 2's Island course, setting them up for the top of the division at the end of Day two. Shawn Kang's Alpha+, spurred on by the close competition, took a strong bounce back on the final day, taking two bullets and the overall divisional trophy, only one point ahead of Noel Chan's Rampage88.

In the biggest and most competitive fleet, eight boats competed in IRC Racer Div 1, including an impressive variety of new lightweight yachts including Andrew Taylor and Denis Martinet's newly-arrived Cape 31 Capitano, which made the journey to Hong Kong just in time to compete against other strong local contenders of Glenn Smith's new Grand Soleil 44 Wild Card, Eddy Lee's full carbon Neo Roma 430, Next, and Dennis Chien's Mat 1245 Arcturus+.

However, it was to be 2021 division winner Nick Burns' Witchcraft who took three bullets on Day 1, setting her up for the 2022 title. Witchcraft successfully defended her lead on the final day by only one point after a tight tussle with Capitano, who had taken the win in the Island Race on Day 2, and two more bullets on the final day. Third place overall went to Albert Cheung's Full Tilt.

In the IRC Racer 2 fleet, there was neck-to-neck competition between Stephen Jones/James Verner's Nightshift and Nicolas Cohen-Addad's Jinn throughout the regatta - they were both tied in Race 5 with exactly the same corrected time, however in the end it was Nightshift who took the overall win - two points clear of Jinn.

Competition was also tight in ICR Racer 3 among the three strong teams of Dexter II, Admiralty Harbour Whiskey Jack, and Juice. At the end of day two, the three yachts held an extremely tight score card with only one point separating each of the teams. Skipper Simon Wong took Dexter II to an impressive win in the final race, securing 1st place overall, and with one discard in effect, was two points clear of Nick Southward's Admiralty Harbour Whiskey Jack.

In the HKPN division, Niccolo Manno's Trimaran Carbon 3 stole the show with a massive lead in the Day 3 Island race, finishing one hour ahead of the other competitors and taking one bullet in the final day of racing to put them in 2nd overall, three points behind Sunny Leung's Jibulai.

With great accolades from the competing sailors, this much renowned regatta looks forward to continued growth and success internationally when it returns again in 2023.

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