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Let the games begin at the 2024 Rolex China Sea Race

by Vivian Ngan 26 Mar 03:09 PDT 27 March 2024
Rolex China Sea Race 2024 Press Conference © Rolex / Andrea Francolini

The stage is set for the return of the Rolex China Sea Race and the energy is palpable and anticipation high as the 21 teams registered to race gather at the docks of Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club for last-minute preparations before the start tomorrow.

21 boats will be on the start line at 1120hrs on Wednesday 27 March, ready to race the 565-nautical miles (1,046 kilometers) across the South China Sea to Subic Bay in the Philippines. Being regarded as one of the most tactical and challenging offshore races, many of the world's best-known sailors and yachts have tried to master the Race putting their sailing skills to the ultimate test.

A strong fleet of six international entries including previous winners, are preparing to take on this flagship Category 1 Offshore race. Speaking at the Rolex China Sea Race press conference at Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club today, first-time entry from Korea, Random() skipper Hojun Song said that it was Random()'s first offshore race. The crew started to practice and prepare for the race three months ago. It took them 18 days to come to Hong Kong and it was all with the aim of competing in the Rolex China Sea Race. Random() is on full gear targeting to be the overall Champion.

Representing Mainland of China, Seawolf has returned for their third Rolex China Sea Race. With the inclusion of world-renowned sailors including Malaysia-born sailor Tiffany Koo and her brother Jeremy Koo, Seawolf won IRC A in the recent China Cup and is looking as strong as ever. Seawolf is on the hunt for their first IRC overall championship after taking IRC overall 3rd place in 2016 and IRC overall 2nd place in 2018. Skipper Yan Yu Ye said that looking at the past record, Seawolf was progressing. The team would try their very best to be on podium finish at this year's race.

Ernesto Echauz's Standard Insurance Centennial V, returns as the Line Honours defending champion and the first ever Philippines Line Honours winner. Alaiza Belmonte and Paula Bombeo are two female sailors on board. Bombeo said "having women on board brings a different perspective which enables more effective decision making as a team". Speaking about the pressure of defending the Line Honours title, Echauz said that there was not much pressure because as long as the crew were well prepared both mentally and physically, everything would be fine.

Local team Rampage008 has been actively racing in Hong Kong for a long time. Fresh from taking the IRC overall win in the Hong Kong Around the Island Race 2023 and the China Coast Regatta, this time they are aiming for a win at the Rolex China Sea Race. Noel Chan, owner of Rampage008 shifted from a TP52 racer to the Beneteau First 45 cruiser this year for Team Rampage because he wanted to have a more relaxing way to race so that the crew could perform better without pressure.

Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club Commodore Lucy Sutro mentioned in her welcome speech that for several decades Rolex has cultivated close associations with the best-known yacht clubs and organisers of major events in the world of sailing. "We are honoured that this Race was the first Asian sailing event sponsored by Rolex and proud that, with their support over the last 16 years, the Race continues to arouse attention within the international yachting fraternity." she said.

Rolex China Sea Race 2024 Race Chairman Nicolas Cohen-Addad gave his thank you speech at the end, giving his heartfelt gratitude to Rolex for their ongoing support of this event and the other yacht races and regattas round the world. He added that "The Race itself presents its own unique set of challenges; from the dense fishing and commercial traffic, keeping clear of the gas and oil production platforms to navigating the deep blue waters off the north of Luzon. In the latter part of the Race, there are the Filipino fishing barrels and canoes we usually encounter miles offshore as we make our final approaches to Subic Bay."

2024 marks the 62nd anniversary of this world-renowned blue water classic. This flagship event is organised by the cosmopolitan Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, one of the oldest and most prestigious clubs in Hong Kong. Rolex has been a partner of the Club since 2007 and Title Sponsor of its flagship Race since 2008.

There are two main prizes at the Rolex China Sea Race. The most coveted is the Rolex China Sea Race Trophy for the IRC Overall winner on corrected time (handicap). The first boat to cross the finish line in real time (Line Honours) receives the Sunday Telegraph Trophy. A Rolex timepiece will be awarded to the first boat under IRC Overall handicap and first Monohull Line Honours.

For more information about Rolex China Sea Race 2024, please visit www.rolexchinasearace.com.

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