Typhoon 8

Early on Sunday morning, the Observatory had this to say: winds from the south, Force 2 and 3, mainly cloudy with occasional showers and squally thunderstorms. Showers will be heavy at times.

It was the forecast for conditions on Sunday, the 20th of August 2023, and Race 8 of the UK Sailmakers Typhoon Series 2023. Well, they got the showers right, they got the cloudy skies partly right, but the wind they got wrong.

From between 5 and 7 knots at the start, the southerly slowly died and the race officer, Howie Suen, had to make some tough decisions later in the day.

But back to the countdowns for the five divisions and two classes. Sailors were welcomed at 1050 and given their courses over the VHF – IRC A & B would sail Course 115 covering a distance of 15 nautical miles; IRC C were given Course 113 which was 2 nautical miles shorter, likewise the J/80s and HKPN A; while HKPN B and the special DC29 class were required to complete Course 31 measuring 11 nautical miles in length.

All good and apart from the inevitable queries from those who didn’t listen to the RO’s welcome, or who failed to read the courses displayed clearly on the back of the committee boat, racing got underway at 1100. Three IRC A speedsters departed with Seawolf choosing to slip by close by the committee boat and establish a lead which it maintained until claiming handicap honours ahead of Zannekin and Phoenix. David Ho’s Phoenix took line honours in an elapsed time of 2 hours, 50 minutes and 30 seconds.

The lively IRC B division started at 1105 with an over-eager DEA III Fire on course side. The 10 boats powered off to their first mark – Basalt Island in a breeze of just over 6 knots. There was no windward mark.

At 1110, six IRC C boats crossed the line in a building southerly, 7.4 knots recorded on the committee boat. Five minutes later, the J/80s and HKPN A came surging through in a combined start of 17 boats. The tiny VX One, Serendipity, stood out with Patrick Pender helming his way through the bigger cruisers.

At 1220, the biggest single division – HKPN B – with 13 boats crossed the start and headed for the first mark of their course – Bluff Island.

Last away, were the six DC29s in a ‘special’ start, allowing them plenty of room to manoeuvre and gain experience. Voyages 57 took an early lead and kept it that way, finishing in an elapsed time of 1 hour, 41 minutes and 30 seconds.

As the 55 participants criss-crossed their way between the islands, race officer Howie Suen was becoming increasingly concerned about the dying wind. What to do: shorten or abandon? All the courses he had chosen could be shortened so, after some deliberation, he informed all the support boats to raise their S flags, give two blasts of their horns, and take times.

IRC A was shortened at the Port Shelter Mark, IRC B was shortened at Basalt Island. IRC C, J/80 and HKPN A was also shortened at Basalt while HKPN B and the DC29 class would be finished off Bluff Island by the committee boat, Hebe One. A complex set of arrangements but one that worked remarkably well with no protests by any competitors. Well done the race management team.

Handicap honours were as follows: IRC Division A was won by Seawolf with Zannekin in 2nd and Phoenix 3rd. IRC B was won by James Verner’s Nightshift, followed by David Kong’s Out of Africa and, in 3rd, Herman Wong’s  Kiasu!.

IRC Division C saw the J/99, Juice, take the honours with Talkinghead in 2nd and Dexter II in 3rd. The J/80 class was won by Footloose followed by Jive and Jelik 7.

HKPN A saw some new names on the leader board. On handicap, in 1st position, was Louie Tang’s Krampus, with Michael van Ommeren’s North Star in 2nd and XT 3rd. Delight won HKPN B with Baby Beluga in 2nd and the colourful Zoe in 3rd.

Out of the six DC29s that started, five put in admirable performances to finish within the time limit. Voyages 57 claimed line and handicap honours, with Voyages 39 in 2nd and Voyages 35 in 3rd.

The final of the UK Sailmakers Typhoon Series 2023, Race 9, will by held on Saturday, the 29th of August 2023.

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