go/no go

Sunday 18th November saw almost 200 yachts leave the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club start line for the annual Round the Island Race, this year sponsored by Turkish Airlines for the second year.

This is quite simply the biggest racing fleet in Asia apart from the Top Of the Gulf Regatta in Thailand where a large part of the fleet numbers are kids in Optimists.

It was an early start to the day for some competitors with boats from marinas all around the Special Administrative Region descending on the Royal Hong Kong’s Kellet Island for the start of the racing and then of course some of those competing had to keep on going to get back home again making it a long day for some.

The race doesn’t always make it all the way round the island as mother nature can often be fickle with her provision of wind, however there was enough puff this year to not only get even the smallest boats round the course (and that included a few intrepid dinghies) but also for the Mod 70, Beau Geste 5 to give the record time a fright.

With multiple classes taking part from dinghies through family cruisers and the IRC races all the way to the aforementioned canting rig trimaran the race officers on the twin lines set from te shore and the RHKYC committee boat Kellet. Thankfully, although there were a few boats a little keen resulting in a few OCS’s there were never enough to demand a General Recall.

The weather was kind with sufficient breeze and enough sunshine to make the event pleasurable for most contestants.

I say most, as with Hong Kong being a busy shipping port and all racing subject to the rules, not only of sailing but also the local Marine Department or MarDep to their friends (I am assured they do have some friends) there were a number of no-go zones in the SI’s particularly with reference to the busy Traffic Separate Scheme (TSS) resulting in a number of DSQ by the race committee on that part of the course.

That in turn led to a number of requests for redress where disqualified boats ‘disagreed’ with the RC’s assessment of whether they entered a prohibited zone or not.

Added to those DSQ’s were a remarkably few protests given such a large fleet which included a number of boats where the Round the Island was one of the few races their crew did all year.

Beau Geste had conditions conducive to a record breaking lap of the island but right off the start their first tack saw them stalled for so long that some of the spectators started to think they had caught a lobster pot. Sadly for the big tri it was not to be but as they had the a set of timekeepers there for the race anyway they had a second crack, lapping Hong Kong island twice in less time than it took some of the smaller monohulls to do it once.

Monohull line honours went to the Ker 46 Lighthorse Alpha but in the main it was a small boat sort of a day with 15 of the top 20 coming from the dinghy, sportboat or fast cat fleets. Top honours however went to Mark Thornburrow’s Flyer from Fast Fleet 1 with line honours boat, Lighthorse Alpha relegated to 12th position.

It was, in some ways, a day where the event itself won, with Victoria Harbour covered with sails amidst the bright sunshine and the RHKYC showing once showcasing sailing to this ‘Asian City of the World.

– SS