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midnight express

midnight-1
Local Knowledge
As if running what has recently been called in the media “the most genuine regatta in China” and maintaining that standard wasn’t enough along comes mother nature to add a little ‘spice’ just in case you had started to get a little blasé about things.
The China Club Challenge Match, sailed off Xiamen is this year in its 12th year and is due to be sailed this year in J-80s. The first problem was that, with racing starting on Friday mother nature in the shape of Typhoon Meranti decided to come calling.
Her advance warning was billed by the Taiwan Weather Bureau as the worst storm anywhere on earth this year has shore crews scurrying doubling up lines and the rest of us bracing for the worse. In the past the ‘worst’ was been a strong wind as one typhoon after another swung north or south and missed Xiamen altogether. If you don’t know where Xiamen is by the way, it is what Amoy Soy Sauce is named after.
This time the lady wasn’t for turning and she came on – head on in fact – and as I lay in bed at 0330 this morning it sounded like express train after express train was roaring past the hotel window. I wasn’t exactly scared but was decidedly uncomfortable as the windows rattled and bowed.
Winds in excess of 130kts had been reported and damage was widespread. Basically – Xiamen Island was trashed.
midnight-2We had two IUs from New Zealand stranded in Hong Kong and a local PRO who couldn’t even get out of his compound for fallen trees and the streets looking like someone had run down them with a giant chain saw.
Now I knew what it was like to live through one of the most powerful forces in nature. Not a good experience, I can tell you.  On the marina at least 4 boats sank, others lost their rigs and genoas unwisely left on the roller forestays shredded like a Kleenex.
Replacement boats were effectively sourced, the officials eventually managed to arrive via later flights or once people had chain-sawed their way out of their compound and the net effect was little more than a few hours delay to race day 1.
This weekend, which was oversubscribed more than 3 months earlier. sees the fleet racing element which pits 30 hopefuls against each other for the right be one of the 16 teams to advance to the elimination match racing element in a few weeks’ time.
With the post typhoon winds forecast to be the typically light and the full moon just behind us, challenging conditions will surely prevail over the next few days. Tune in a few days hence for the race report.
See ya on the water
Shanghai Sailor