Images: Guy Nowell/ Vivian Ngan
With two typhoons lingering in the region, light winds had been predicted for the weekend of 11-12 September for the running of Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s Autumn Regatta Sponsored by HSBC Expat. Luckily for all, decent breeze held and the curtain raiser event for the Club’s 2021-2022 sailing season successfully kicked off.
With entry open to all of Hong Kong’s keelboats, the regatta attracted more than 600 sailors across seven one-design classes, Sportboats and Big Boats. Over 100 boats gathered on a hot and hazy afternoon for the start of racing in an 8 to 10 knots of westerly wind.
Race Officer Barry Truhol opted for a start in Hung Hom, sending the fleet up Victoria Harbour before the yachts hoisted their kites, offering a spectacular view to those watching from Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. The biggest fleet on the start line, as usual, were the Etchells class with a turnout of 22 boats.
Barry Truhol admitted he was surprised by the wind conditions on the first day. “In the last three days, Hong Kong has been sandwiched between two typhoons, we were expecting a nightmare for the wind, with the forecast for zero wind even this morning. But at 1000hrs, we had a six to eight knots westerly breeze which remained stable for the day allowing us to run westerly courses. The racing has been close with the fleets not spread out as much as the easterly courses, so it was a good day.”
Hong Kong is one of the few places featuring four TP52s racing regularly in close, confined waters. With a longer course for Big Boat Division 1 set, the beat up to the Wan Chai Convention Centre showcased grand prix style racing in impressive style, as the four TP52s sailed up through Victoria Harbour past the Kellett Island Clubhouse and on towards the newly-opened Wanchai Promenade, much to the delight of the gathering crowd of onlookers at both the Clubhouse and the foreshore.
The first day of racing was also designated as the Bart’s Bash event – “the Largest Sailing Event in the World”. Bart’s Bash is a global charity fund-raising sailing race that takes place at more than 1,000 yacht clubs across 63 countries over the same weekend.
The second day the westerly breeze dropped to six to eight knots and all classes took part in two races with the start positioned off Kowloon Bay. The courses covered the Victoria Harbour area mostly between North Point and Kowloon Bay. Although the wind weakened to four knots near Kowloon Bay at noon, the breeze held in at western part of the course, enabling all fleets to complete their full course.
After three races, the Big Boat Division 1 saw Marcel/ Liedts’ Ker 46 Zannekin tied with Shawn Kang’s TP52 Alpha+ on 5 points with Zannekin taking the regatta overall on count back. In Division 2, James Verner’s Nightshift took the win with one bullet in Race 2 and in Division 3, it was Dean Chisholm’s Hanse 40 Darling taking the overall win.
In the biggest fleet, Etchells, Jamie Boag’s Noddy took two bullets out of three races, anointing them as overall winner in their class. J/80 Footloose, Dragon Zephyr, Pandora Solstice, Ruffian Helios and Flying Fifteen Niffty all held on to their first day leads and took 1st place in their respective classes. Impala Taxi took 2-1 on the second day, picking up the silverware in their class. While in the Sportboat class, the newly launched VXOne Serendipity dominated by taking two bullets in the first two races, however subsequently retiring from the third race saw Ironman take the win overall in the class after scoring 2-2.
All in all, it was a wonderful start to the 2021-2022 season with 109 boats participating. We must extend our greatest thanks to our sponsors as it is with their support that we continue to grow and have such incredible events. A huge thank you to our title sponsor HSBC Expat, who were joined by new supporting sponsor Mercedes Benz and partners Peroni and Pharmabelle. We look forward to what is to come for the rest of the season together!