Images: Guy Nowell/Vivian Ngan
The Nations’ Cup is arguably one of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s (RHKYC) foremost fun events, and even the heavy rain and unseasonably cold weather (in fact, the coldest day in May for over 100 years) could not stop sailors dressing up in costumes to represent their nation. 59 boats from 18 nations (19 including the Metaverse) turned out on May 1.
21 boats represented Hong Kong, with the second largest participating nation being England with 10 entries. Also sailing for the glory of their nation were Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States and Wales.
Often referred to as sailing’s answer to the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens which many attend in fancy dress, the majority of participating sailors celebrated the spirit of the day by wearing costumes and decorating their boats with nation flags and other paraphernalia – all this despite the steady drizzle.
Big Boat Amaze sailed absolutely safe in full COVID-protective clothing, whilst the Pandora class crew on board Hakuna Matata, Panopae and Windfall came in cheongsams and qipao; featuring as the main characters of the legendary Hong Kong film Rouge. An American all-girls team on board Ruffian Scallywag dressed as Britney Spears, albeit in various outfits that she made famous. Sadly, many of these amazing outfits were eventually covered up and hidden under wet weather gear while sailing, however the sailors were still enjoying the glorious display of nationalistic pride.
Boats were split into six starts based on their RHKATI or HKPN ratings, with the two HKPN divisions starting first. Sailors were greeted with around 10kts of easterly breeze (gusting up to 15kts) at the Club start line.
Race Officer Bonnie Cheng sent the fleet to Junk Bay rounding TCS4 and then back to Tin Hau, upwind back to Kowloon Bay before heading back to the Club finish line. The wind weakened at Lei Yue Mun and Junk Bay with the fleet parking up twice.
When all was said and done, the final results saw Mike Burrell’s Impala 1 representing Scotland crowned top nation for the second time in the history of the Nations’ Cup, while they also snagged the most important bragging rights to having the Scottish flag displayed over the Main Bar until next year’s Nations’ Cup. In second place was England followed by Ireland in third place. Fukushima Kunihiro’s White Rabbit representing Japan won first place in HKPN division.
The Scottish team celebrated their win; “It was a surprise; we did have a good run to Lei Yue Mun. This is the second Scottish win for the Nations’ Cup, and we are nearly up to New Zealand’s standard who have won four times, so we are going to win again next year!” said Mike Burrell. Burrell also thought the weather contributed to their win “All the English were too cold to sail fast, and this was the perfect weather for the Scottish!”
Meanwhile, Bonnie hoped everyone enjoyed the race. “The weather forecast said it would be a northeast monsoon, with a drop in temperature and rain. How cold can it possibly get in May! Apparently, it turned out to be the coldest day in May since 1917! However, nothing can stop our sailors’ participating and creatively dressing up for this annual event. We spotted a variety of catchy costumes, from animal characters to super stars, and the boat that impressed us the most was the hazmat suits – they were probably the only people staying dry throughout the rainy day! We had a good 10-15 kts breeze to get the race underway. With changing wind conditions on the battlefield – which to us sailors is nothing new – it took a little longer than I expected to sail the full course. The best reward for the day for us on the race management team was the thank-yous, the smiles, and the teamwork! “
The Club would like to extend a huge thank you to Peroni, our partner for the Nations’ Cup. Their continued support greatly adds to the ongoing success and enjoyment for all our sailors at this this event. We are grateful for their ongoing support.
A big thank you to our ‘United Nation’s race management team: Race Officer Bonnie Cheng, ARO Lucy Sutro and the team of Elberti Uiterwaal-Postma, Fiona Gregor, Lindsay Lyons, Sheila Chan and safety team Barry Truhol, Philip Lee, Steve Wordsworth and Victor Tsien. See you next year!