chasin' the roley

While there was high drama going on in the Southern Ocean an event, no less important, was being run in Asia.
The Rolex China Sea Race run by Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club got under way at 1120 local time on Wednesday with 29 boats on the start line. Well to be precise 28 boats on the start line with one charging in that direction (Rampage 2) having had their dock out delayed by last minute visa issues for one of the crew.
Rapage 2 were officially recorded as OCS having had to stop their engine and sail the last bit to the line. She was not alone as two other teams were also a bit eager to get down to the Philippines. (All returned to start correctly.
And what a start! It was more like a Wednesday night beer can than a 600 miler with the line being pushed by several boats who clearly forgot the west-east tidal current and one very noticeable ‘bang between Ambush to leeward and Sitka to windward. It probably sounded worse than it was but still brought a grimace to the face of Ambush’s owner guesting on the Start boat.
Flags flew and not sure whether it will go to the room or not, Sitka probably got away without damage but not so sure about Ambush as the more lightly built race yacht.
The start list would have breached 30 had two boats not had to scratch in the days before the race due to technical issues but still boasted a record number of Mainland Chinese entries.
The two line honours favourites (overall and monohull) as expected led the fleet out of the harbour in the breeze which was in the low double figures with Karl Kwok’s latest Beau Geste, a MOD 70 crossing tacks with the RP66, ‘Alive’ visiting once again from Australia but as soon as they were round the corner the big trimaran lifted her skirts and started to pull away.
The forecast breeze of 15-20 knots (although one model suggested up to a F7) sped the fleet on down towards Subic Bay with the Mod 70, Beau Geste clearly leading the way toward an outright record.
And what a record. She smashed the 18 year old record set by Atmosphere taking just over 9 ½ hours off to bring the time to beat down to 1 day, 14 hours, 30 minutes, 7 seconds and that included around 7 hours of no wind – imagine what she could do if she breeze all the way. I doubt if you could find many powerboats fast enough to do the trip quicker.
The overall monohull prize went to Fred Kinmonth’s Mandrake 3, a GTS 43 with Seawolf from Mainland China, a Ker 42 custom and sporting a mainly Mainland China crew close behind.
One sad piece of news from the race course is that Mark Whitehead, immediate past Commodore of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club passed away in his sleep in his bunk on board Orient Express.
Now they all have to turn around and sail the course in the opposite direction, just to get home. Prize giving in Hong Kong in April and hopefully an even greater mainland involvement in 2020.