Round the Island Race

Over 200 boats turned up for the 26-nautical-mile Solaris Yachts Around the Island Race on Sunday, the 24th of November 2019.

Under a perfect blue sky – and given the sheer number of boats – race officer David Norton set two start lines off the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club's Kellett Island clubhouse with the line closest to the club used for starting the one design boats and the outside line for the HKPN, IRC and beach cat divisions.

The first start was at 0830 with the Pandoras and HKPN Monohulls setting off in a easterly breeze of between 4 and 7 knots. The last ‘division’ to get away was the only fast fleet boat, Jelik, at 1030. All starts were on schedule although a few over-enthusiastic crews were OSC (including a 29er, a Dragon, an Impala, a J-80 and an Etchells). 

The smallest boat in the race was the only single-handed entry – an RS Aero skippered by Giles Surman. The largest was the 72-foot Jelik, helmed by Frank Pong.

Two 420s led the fleet out of Lei Yue Mun Gap and were the first boats to round Cape d’Aguilar. As the entire fleet made its way around Bluff Head, it was a magnificent and colourful sight to behold with hundreds of spinnakers lining the horizon.

Casey Law’s 29er took the lead towards Ap Lei Chau until he was overtaken by the big boats at Cyberport. For the frontrunners, as they passed Green Island they were greeted with some solid wind and a strong tide in Victoria Harbour. Marcel Liedts’ Zannekin took line honours followed by the TP52, Phoenix and Shawn Kang’s Lighthorse Alpha+.

Zannekin’s skipper, Steven Corrigan, said his crew had done an excellent job. “They worked really hard. When we got through Stanley gate there were still six boats ahead, but we managed to them catch up. Usually there’s a bit of drama at Cyberport but we got through okay. The wind was flipping around in strength and direction but we just kept working and, most importantly, kept the boat moving.” The first class boat to finish was Amanda Chen’s FAB from the Sportboats.

Unfortunately, as the afternoon drew on, the wind softened and a hole developed around Middle Island. The majority of the boats were sailing slowly downwind off the southwestern side of Hong Kong Island and, in the end, about a third of the participants could not make Kellett Island before the cut-off at 1700. But, hey, it’s about taking part and enjoying yourself in an amazing event. Roll on November 2020!

The last boat to cross the line and get a finish was Big Boat, Blu.

A prizegiving was held on Monday on the RHKYC’s rooftop with views of the harbour that was filled to the brim with sails the previous day.

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