Summer Series 1

The Aberdeen Boat Club’s Summer Series is designed to give sailors a morning race followed by a convivial lunch at one of Hong Kong’s many waterfront restaurants. It’s a format that works well given the heat, and sometimes lack of wind, during the territory’s summer months.

But, on Sunday, the 5th of June, the sailors had one more thing to be happy about. It was the club’s first sailing race after nearly six months of cancellations, thanks to Covid-19.

The feeling of excitement out on the water near Middle Island was palpable. Twenty-two yachts circled Shun Fung, the committee boat, eager to cross the start line and head for the windward mark laid 200 metres to the southwest. Race officer, Alex Johnston, welcomed everyone at 1010 and announced that both IRC and HKPN would be sailing Course 37. This would take the 10 faster boats around Bluff Head, then Fury Rocks, past Tung Lung Chau, around Steep Island on the outside, before finishing off the entrance to Clearwater Bay.

The course for the slower boats was similar, leaving out Fury and passing inside Steep. In good southwesterly winds of 12 to 15 knots both, IRC and HKPN fleets would converge on the finish more or less together, and in perfect time for lunch at Fat Kee Seafood Restaurant in Po Toi O!

The warning signal for the two IRC divisions went at 1025. At 1029, it became apparent there was going to be drama. Red Kite II, making a calculated and well-timed approach, began calling to Intrigue which was closing in fast from above the committee boat. Diving or barging, call it what you like, but on the gun, helm Thiery Barot did an incredible job of steering Intrigue through the gap with just inches to spare either side.

Meanwhile, further down the line, Gambit and Zesst were leading the pack with Neo One and Redeye coming up fast. After rounding the windward mark, the six IRC Division 1 and four IRC Division 2 boats settled in for a reach to Bluff Head while the two HKPN divisions were preparing to start.

At 1035, six HKPN A and six HKPN B boats had crossed the line with James Barker and crew on J Chi (J-80) showing that size can be an advantage. At the front, Jibulai was soon rounding the windward mark and overhauling the IRC tailenders.

Through the Beaufort Channel, the IRC boats carried on to Fury Rocks and then raised their kites for a glorious run to Steep in 15 to 18 knots of south-southwesterly breeze. Redeye, taking full advantage of its waterline, was first to drop its kite and power across the finish at 11:56:10 to claim line honours. Within sight of the line, Intrigue developed kite problems and broached in the stiff breeze.

Surprisingly, IRC 2 entry, Zesst, helmed by Henning Mueller, was second to cross the line. This impressive performance by the Jeanneau Sunfast 3600 put it 1st in division, followed by Gambit and Red Kite II.

Closer to shore, the HKPN boats were coming in fast – just as planned! Line honours went to Pascal Martin’s Legende II while the little J-80, J Chi, was second to finish. On handicap in HKPN A, Legende II was 1st, with Jibulai 2nd and XT 3rd. The HKPN B division was won by J Chi on handicap with Five O One in 2nd and Philippe Moriau’s Rhy & Rue in 3rd.

Later, at Fat Kee, the RO presented prizes to the achievers with a consolation award made to Intrigue.

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