Monsoon Spring Series, Races 1 & 2

During the course of the week there was a change in schedule for the first day of racing in the five-day San Miguel Monsoon Spring Series 2020. (This series is also the third and final event in the Monsoon Series 2019-20, which concludes on the 25th of April 2020.)

Race 1 was supposed to be an island race forming also the first race in a newly conceived programme for the annual Hong Kong IRC National Championships. A second overnight race in the IRC Nationals (but not part of the Monsoon Series) was scheduled for the evening but the Marine Department, concerned about the race crossing shipping channels, refused permission. So, the first day of the Monsoon Spring Series was amended to two geometric races both of which would count in the Monsoon Series and the IRC Nationals.

Conditions were less than ideal on Saturday, the 7th of March 2020, for race officers, Nigel Slattery and Eric Tomter, as the fleet congregated around the committee vessel anchored between Cascade Bay and Shelter Island. Port Shelter was shrouded in mist although visibility was slowly improving.

As the 1355 warning signal approached, ripples on the water heralded the arrival of a light southeasterly which had built to five knots in time for the start.

First off on geometric Course 22, comprising a triangle and sausage, were the 15 boats in IRC which were joined some seven minutes later by the late starting Rampage. The A1 windward mark for IRC was laid at 160 degrees and 0.5 nautical miles distant, and a B mark was positioned o.4 nautical miles from there.

The second start, for the 12 HKPN boats followed at 1405 with all away cleanly on a two-lap windward / leeward with their windward mark, A2, at 0.4 nautical miles.

First in IRC around the windward mark was Quest followed by Ambush. Unfortunately, having rounded the windward mark and hoisting its kite, the Dehler 42 Daydream collided with Blu but exonerated itself with two penalty turns. 

Having rounded the B mark and approaching the leeward mark Ambush saw its asymmetric collapse after ripping at the head. Meanwhile, in considerable congestion, H3O had to bypass the mark and circle around, when prevented from gybing.

In IRC, Quest took line and handicap honours followed by Ambush with Blu 3rd.

Bits & Pieces took line honours in HKPN but lost out to Lazy Piggy for handicap honours with Bucephalus 2nd and Temujin 3rd.

The breeze was still hovering around 4 and 5 knots but had swung left so the windward marks had to be shifted to 140 degrees and the B mark moved to 45 degrees to provide more of a reaching leg.

There was major congestion at the 1520 start of Race 2 for the 17 IRC boats (which had been joined by Calamansi). Rampage barged its way through beside the committee vessel with Whiskey Jack shouting “protest” and hoisting a red flag. Whiskey Jack had nowhere to go and was forced down on to Calamansi becoming itself subject to protest. Rampage sensibly retired and Whiskey Jack escaped a protest.

HKPN again followed at 1525 on another two-lap windward / leeward.

Ambush led at the windward mark and maintained its lead to take line and corrected time honours in IRC ahead of Quest with Blu again 3rd.

Meanwhile, the breeze briefly picked up to 9 knots which sped the HKPN front-runners home. The laggards were less lucky when the breeze died, leaving Scrumpy, Xanadu II and Authority wallowing before managing to inch across the finish line. The Oceanis 343, Melcan Tilou, was less lucky and was still trying to fight the (lack of) wind and current to round the windward mark. It was offered a last place finish, which, to the relief of the race management, it gratefully accepted.

Bits & Pieces took line honours and managed to claim 3rd on handicap while, with only five seconds separating them, Lazy Piggy and Bucephalus tied on handicap for 1st.

Pleased that they had completed two races the race officials and crews returned to the Garden Bar at Hebe Haven Yacht Club for the prize-giving and sponsored San Miguel.

The Hong Kong IRC Nationals continue next weekend with RHKYC’s harbour racing on Saturday the 14th and ABC’s Waglan Series Race 11 on Sunday the 15th. The San Miguel Spring Monsoon Series 2020 resumes on Saturday the 21st of March 2020 with Race 3, an island race.

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