Monsoon Spring 4

The flags ashore were fluttering and there was talk of Force 5 conditions offshore, even Force 6.
“The monsoon signal is up,” said one of the volunteers and another, reading the Observatory’s website, spoke of easterly winds, blowing 18 knots “with gusts of 40”. Outside, the dock was heaving with young, dinghy sailors preparing for a lively afternoon on the water.

“That’s why I want to stay inside Port Shelter, or sheltered waters nearby,” said race officer, Queenie Ho. “Course 41 is my plan.” This standard, 16-nautical-miler takes in a crossing of Rocky Harbour, a run along the back passage past High Island Reservoir and the Outward Bound School, then a sprint down the channel between Sharp Island and Kau Sai Chau. It is a favourite among race officers because of its relative simplicity.

Anticipated fleet numbers for Day 3 were 20+. This figure could have been higher if the sportsboats weren’t having their class racing nearby in the bay. Still, 19 boats were rearing and ready to go when the RO made her welcome over the VHF at 1250. She asked boats to stay away from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s event in the western quadrant of Port Shelter and advised caution in the challenging monsoonal conditions. With the air temperature at 16°, the wind chill factor was a concern and she advised everyone to “wrap up” to avoid hypothermia.

The committee boat, Hebe One, had positioned itself off Kau Sai Chau on the eastern side of Port Shelter and, at 1255, the countdown for Race 4 of the Monsoon Spring Series 2024 began. At precisely 1300, two IRC and five J/80s crossed the line without incident and, a minute later, the 12 PHS boats got away in a consistent breeze that held all the way to Ma Tsai Pai and into Rocky Harbour.

But it wasn’t without incident. In their eagerness to get ahead, H3O was over and had to come back, which they did, rounding the pin to much shouting and obvious frustration. Nevertheless, they went on to sail a good race, reaching the finish 2nd in their division.

Then came a VHF call from Talkinghead – they had a man in the water and needed urgent assistance. The RO immediately dispatched a support boat and, within minutes, a police RIB, a Marine Department launch and fireboat rushed past Hebe One to attend to the unconscious sailor.
A GFS helicopter soon arrived and the individual was airlifted out of Rocky Harbour. Tragically, the sailor was pronounced dead at the hospital. Talkinghead retired.

Another call was received from AmaZe, a PHS entry, claiming that they were stuck on rocks and could they request help? Once again, the RO sent a support boat but the good news was that they were able to free themselves and sail away, later to retire.

At the finish, a duel was developing between Dexter II and Minnie the Moocher. Although in different divisions, it was still good to see the two crews pitting their skills against each other. Dexter II prevailed by a second or two to win IRC while Minnie collected a 7th in PHS.

The J/80s were won by Jazz, followed by Jelik 6 and Seas the Day (Baring Asia 1).

In PHS, Robert Cook and crew stormed to the finish under kite to take 1st place for Ichiban. Baby Beluga performed admirably to notch up a 2nd and Marmalade placed 3rd. Scrumpy brought up the rear.

The next race in the Monsoon Spring Series will be held on Saturday, the 23rd of March and the final two deciding windward/leewards will by staged on Saturday, the 13th of April 2024.

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