Summer 3

In his welcome message to the Notice of Race for the Summer Series 2023, the ABC’s commodore’s noted that “summer is not a synonym for clement weather” and so it proved for Race 3, of the seven-race series, on Sunday, the 2nd of July 2023.

The weather forecasters at least got in partly right – one forecasting winds fluctuating between easterlies and southwesterlies, between 4 and 11 knots, and another 10 to 14 knots gusting 15 plus. What they did have in common was that it would be wet.

Race officer, Alex Johnston, assisted by Jennifer Li and Dai Fuk, set off on the committee boat, Shun Fung, for the Lamma start line south of Wong Chuk Kok head.

Considering the threatened thunderstorms, Johnston settled on a clockwise navigation of Lamma for everyone but including a four-nautical mile diversion for IRC, with a loop rounding the P1 buoy, off the southwest coast of Lamma, around the weather beacon buoy and back, before continuing up the west coast of Lamma. Meanwhile, the HKPN fleet was only required to pass the P1 buoy to starboard.

Prior to reaching the P1 buoy, boats were required to pass a club mark, in the vicinity of Yuen Kwok Light, keeping out of the South Lamma Restricted Anchorage Area.

The finish was at the entrance to Sok Kwu Wan (Picnic Bay) on Lamma. Tables had been reserved at the Genuine Lamma Hilton Fishing Restaurant. Total distance 14 nautical miles for IRC and 10 for HKPN.

An 8-knot southwesterly from 215 degrees was blowing when the 1025 warning signal for the combined IRC start was flagged for the four IRC 1 and two IRC 2 boats.

a Sunfast 3600, led IRC over the line close to the committee boat and caught its anchor line. Skipper Henning Mueller exonerated himself with a penalty turn. The Neo 430 Roma, Next, followed along with Amanda Cheung’s Sunfast 3600, 2 Easy (ex Arcturus), while Stefan Fillip’s Neo One opted for the pin end. The Sydney 38, Manbude, and Parnassus brought up the rear.

Five minutes later, for the start of the combined HKPN fleet comprising five HKPN A and five HKPN B boats, the drizzle had ceased but so, too, had the wind.

Shun Shui , a Bavaria 34, was leading at the start close to the committee boat when Sea Eagle barged in claiming “water”. A red flag was hoisted but no protest call was heard. No protests were pursued but Sea Eagle appeared to be in the wrong and no penalty turn to exonerate itself was performed.

The Beneteau First 41s5, Easy Breezy II, and the Beneteau Senses 46, Generations, brought up the rear.

Grey skies building in the west were looking ominous and the RO was relieved he had issued various safety warnings, reminding skippers to be prepared to reef and wear life-jackets if visibility deteriorated.

By 1050, the fleet had virtually parked and was going nowhere fast. Water Rabbit was still attempting to cross the line with a considerate race officer leaving it open until 1104.

Unfortunately, the little Beneteau First 265 and two other HKPN B boats – Shun Shui and Easy Breezy II – and HKPN A boat, 2 Easy, all later retired.

The breeze then picked up with Next first to round the P1 buoy to loop around the weather beacon buoy before continuing up the west coast to the Shek Kok Tsui Beacon. By then the breeze had swung to 230 degrees and the wind had intensified to 12 knots, gusting 15. Neo One was the next to round followed by Zesst, Manbude and Parnassus with 2 Easy in close proximity.

Meanwhile the HKPN fleet only had to pass both the club mark to port and the P1 buoy to starboard before continuing to Shek Kok Tsui Beacon (S) and Luk Chau (St George’s Island) (S) and into the finish near the entrance to Sok Kwu Wan.

By 1300, the finish line was laid just as Next was spotted rounding the top off Lamma and speeding under kite to the finish, which it crossed at 13:11:12 and correcting out in 1st place in IRC 1.

On the east coast, the 6- to 7-knot breeze had swung briefly more northerly before dying, leaving the J-80, JeNe PaBe, Neo One and the Beneteau First 40.7, Triple A, with its turquoise kite, and Sea Eagle, struggling to reach the finish before the J/80 finally led them across the line and take the HKPN A gun.

Next to come into view and eventually make it across the line were Five O One, Zesst, Manbude, Parnassus and Generations, with Zesst taking the gun in IRC 2.

Between following downpours, the wind came and went while the race officer waited patiently for the last two boats, Boss and The Farr Side, remaining in HKPN B to give them a result. However, having extended the three o’clock cut off by over an hour and, with little chance of the two boats finishing, despite being within 500 metres of the line, he announced he had to close the line.

Meanwhile, the seafood lunch was in full swing at the Genuine Lamma Hilton, where bottles of wine were presented. Eddy Lee received the bottle for Next with line and handicap honours in IRC 1, with Neo One 2nd and Manbude 3rd.

Zesst won IRC 2 but was not present to collect their award.

JeNa PaBe won HKPN A but, not being present, forfeited their award to 2nd-placed Sea Eagle with Tripple A 3rd. Five O One retired after questions were raised whether it had passed the ABC club mark, demarking the Restricted Anchorage Area, to port or not.

Sadly, none of the five HKPN B boats finished, although Boss and The Farr Side should be highly commended for persevering as long as they did.

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