Kowloon Cup 2020

It was initially a bright Saturday afternoon as boats prepared to head out into Port Shelter for the first of two races in the Kowloon Cup, held over the weekend of the 18th and 19th of January. On the race course, the 6-knot breeze was better than expected but, despite patches of blue, the sun stayed resolutely behind some rather sombre clouds.

Fortunately the race officers for the weekend, Nigel Slattery and Eric Tomter, stretched the line for the 23 boats competing in the one HKPN class event. All got away cleanly but it was a lively and competitive affair – RB approached from the pin end and, starting in the second row on port tack, managed to avoid the rest of the fleet. This put the venerable Dubois 43 in a promising position.

With no windward mark laid, it was straight out of Port Shelter on Course 31 with the fleet converging while rounding Table Island to port.

Conditions were somewhat choppy in the 9-knot breeze as the fleet made for Bluff Island where, as usual in the channel between Bluff and Basalt, the breeze was fluky. Clearing Bluff to port, the boats hoisted their kites for the run to the Bay Island mark followed by a gybe back to Table and into the finish at Little Palm Beach.

Generations had a problem with the sock of its spinnaker at Bluff and, for a while, it looked as if they were celebrating Chinese New Year earlier than usual with the lower part of their big red kite resembling a large Chinese lantern!

Given its novice crew, RB decided to wait until clearing the Bay mark before hoisting its kite. This proved the right thing to do, with the kite successfully gybed at Table for the final run to the finish.



Rampage led the fleet home in an elapsed time of 1 hour, 42 minutes and 58 seconds, followed by the MC31, H3O, with Outrageous just 24 seconds behind. However, when the HKPN handicaps were applied, Rampage slipped to 5th.

No One Else claimed handicap honours ahead of Windseeker and in 3rd, the Beneteau First 44.7, Crystal. RB finished a commendable 6th ahead of both H30 and Outrageous.

Conditions were looking promising the next day (Sunday) when the race officers anchored the committee vessel in the middle of a Port Shelter for Race 2 of the Kowloon Cup 2020.

It was a short start line for the pursuit race with Scrumpy first off at 10:04 followed at two-minute intervals by the rest of the fleet depending on handicaps.

With no windward mark, it was straight out for a port rounding of Table followed by one and a half laps of Table and Bluff before attempting as many laps of the Kowloon Cup mark and the Bay Islet mark as possible before the scheduled finish time of 1400.

Goddess had the most impressive start in the 7- to 9-knot breeze, which was oscillating between 30 and 345 degrees, hoisting it blue spinnaker as it crossed the start line.



Gearboxx and Minnie the Moocher were the last to start at 11:26 but were joined by the late arrival of the short-handed, DEA II, some 54 minutes after its scheduled start time! The front-runners made reasonable progress with Scrumpy leading No One Else and Windseeker in the approach, all under kite, to Table for the second time. However, the breeze was already beginning to ease with both No One Else and Windseeker managing to overhaul Scrumpy. Meanwhile RB was also making good progress but unfortunately conditions were not to last.

It was a difficult approach to Table for the remainder of the fleet as the zephyrs disappeared around 0130 and their spinnakers collapsed leaving Rampage, Talkinghead, Ichiban, Darling, Crystal and Amaze all floundering beside the island for between 20 and 30 minutes.

The breeze did return but by this time the race officers had decided to shorten course with a finish in the channel between Bluff and Basalt Islands. Perhaps a better place would have been at the entrance to the channel as boats (in particular Crystal) still struggled to cross the line. Unfortunately, of the 21 starters, only 14 finished with seven retiring.

No One Else was the first to complete the shortened course at 14:00:19 followed by X-Terminator and Winsdseeker just nine seconds behind. Minnie persevered and was the last to finish at 15:23:18.

Most of the crews then descended on Yau Ley Seafood Restaurant for the awards ceremony, where Hebe Haven Yacht Club’s new general manager, Rene Verhulst, presented the prizes. For the combined two races, these went to No One Else 1st, Windseeker 2nd and X-Terminator 3rd .

The conditions on Sunday will perhaps require a rethink on course options for 2021. The event brought to a close racing in the Year of the Pig with much anticipation for prospects in the Year of the Rat.

 
 
 
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