Nations' Cup

Sailing on Sunday, the 28th of April 2019, was “just about as good as we ever get in the harbour,” said Irishman Mick McCool, who sailed aboard Jamie McWilliam’s Etchells, Finnegan’s Wake, the sole Irish entry into the 2019 Nations’ Cup.   Added McCool: “It would mean an awful lot to have the Irish flag behind the bar.” but Ireland sadly missed out, coming in 2nd behind Hong Kong. “We had beautiful weather, blue skies and the breeze was 10 to 15 knots, all the way and very consistent, up and down but not shifting much. It was pretty fair racing and a lot of fun for everyone,” he added.

This sentiment was echoed by Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club commodore, John Woo, sailing Karina for Hong Kong. Said Woo: “We had a lovely day and the wind was constant. It was a short race for us, only two hours. We dressed up as a ‘Hong Kong Emergency Room’. We are here to support and say cheers to all of Hong Kong's medical professionals who work so hard and to give them a morale boost by dressing like them.” At the end of the day the race management team singled out Karina for the best-dressed crew award.

Over 60 crews representing 17 nations – namely Hong Kong, Australia, Switzerland, Netherlands, England, Sweden, Turkey, New Zealand, Scotland, Germany, USA, Ireland, Belgium, France, Italy and Japan – took part. Besides a trophy, the winning nation has the right to display its flag in the RHKYC’s Main Bar for a year.

First held in 2011, the Nations’ Cup is different from the club’s usual sailing races with crews formed along the lines of their nation of origin or allegiance . . . or just simply dressing up in anything they like.

Race officer, Inge Strompf, set a course that was “easy to handle for teams that are not used to sailing together, one that was interesting enough without being too long and one that could be shortened if necessary. “The weather conditions were almost perfect. We had 10 to 15 knots of breeze and it was all good despite the finishing mark being dragged away from us.”

There were all sorts of costumes out on the course. One boat carried Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un and Barack Obama lookalikes (along with their bodyguards) whilst another team, representing France, sailed in yellow vests. Still others dressed up as mahjong pieces. Best dressed boat award went to Helios.

Another nod to politics came from Nick Atkinson who had an English flag and an EU flag strapped to his Flying Fifteen Uffa Fox Ache. Said Atkinson: “We went as Brexit basically.”  When asked how he thought he fared in today’s racing he quipped: "Really badly, actually, much like Brexit. We couldn't decide which way to go to save our lives!"

Olivier Decamps of Belgium said: "Great weather, good team on board, great fun. Just perfect; couldn't have asked for more. We had two boats out for Belgium today, an Etchells and a Beneteau. That was quite unusual. What makes this event so special is everyone having fun, dressing up and soaking up the atmosphere.”

New Zealand’s Drew Taylor was looking for a fourth win: “The breeze was reasonable; we had eight on board which wasn't really enough but being Kiwis we rose to the challenge and I think we got round the race course reasonably well.  New Zealand has won this event three times and we'd like more!"

In the end, Hong Kong was crowned top nation for the first time in the history of the Nations’ Cup. In 2nd place was Ireland, followed by England. Then came Belgium, Australia and New Zealand rounding off the top six.

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