Typhoon Series 1

At the management briefing for Race 1 of the UK Sailmakers Typhoon Series 2022, race officer Rob Allen pointed out that there were a healthy 40 entries but there would not be a Sportsboat

Division due to low numbers, nor an IRC B Division for the same reason. Any sportsboats that showed up would be incorporated into HKPN and, similarly, IRC B boats would become part of IRC C. In an L notice, the Club confirmed these changes would stand for the entire Series
Interestingly, the IRC C division will double as a tester for a ‘new’ ratings system known as ORC, or Offshore Racing Congress. ORC has been trialed a few times by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and now it is the Hebe Haven Yacht Club’s turn. The IRC C fleet will get an IRC result and an ORC result.

Thanks to a Velocity Prediction Programme, ORC can tell the performance differences between different boats in different wind conditions and course geometrics. It does not compare the characteristics of one boat to another; it measures how a racing crew can reach their boat’s theoretical performance potential. We’ll know by the end of the Series whether Hong Kong sailors want to adopt it, or not.

Leaving Port Shelter, the committee boat, Hebe One, dropped anchor at 1000 on Sunday, the 12th of June, east of Steep Island, while the management team set about laying marks and taking wind readings. The Observatory had predicted Force 4, and Force 4 it was. There were gusts of 18 knots and more, so the RO laid a very long line to avoid any incidents at the start.

Because of the challenging conditions, the RO came up with a variety of courses for the five fleets. The first start at 1100 – IRC A – would follow Course 96 which takes in a club mark, Table Island, South and North Nine Pin, Steep, Ma Tsai Pai, Table, Basalt, Table and a finish at Little Palm Beach. Twenty-three nautical miles with lots of beats, reaches and runs. The fleet of 11 included two big TP52s, Alpha Plus and Phoenix. With a rating of 1.114, Nick Burns’ Witchcraft was also going to be one to watch, along with Zannekin, Steve Corrigan driving.

The second start – IRC C – was given Course 97, covering 15 nautical miles, which is similar to Course 96 but leaves out Basalt Island.

The J-80s and HKPN A would be third to start, and both fleets would follow Course 100 (16 nautical miles). This less complicated course takes in a club mark, East Nine Pin, Bluff Island, Table and a finish at Little Palm Beach. The fourth and final start was given to the seven entries in HKPN B. They were to sail Course 83, which also includes the club mark, Bluff Island, Table, Bluff, Table and a finish at Little Palm Beach – a distance of 14 nautical miles.

With the wind shifting a little, there were a lot of boats bunched at the committee boat in the first start (1100) but everyone got away cleanly and there were no recalls. It wasn’t long before Witchcraft and Alpha Plus had rounded the windward mark and were heading for open water.
IRC C were off five minutes later with Dexter II looking strong at the front of the seven starters in this division. Moll didn’t make the start.

There were four boats in the J-80 fleet and, along with eight HKPN A boats, made up the third start at 1110. Two entries – Happy King and Black Pearl – didn’t show up which is a shame as both are new and very competitive.

Last to start were the six boats in HKPN B. Scrumpy did not compete.

It wasn’t long before conditions began to take their toll. In the starting area, Lazy Piggy had headsail problems and race stalwart, Temujin, threw in the towel five minutes after the start. So, too, did Talkinghead.

In short time, the 35 starters had rounded the windward mark and it wasn’t long before boats were criss-crossing out in open water, rusty crews quickly getting back into the swing of things. Notably missing among the front runners was Outrageous and its cheerful crew. The boat is up for sale – let’s hope its new owner gets us much out of this veteran Dubois 43 as its former owners (Keith Jacobs of Bimblegumbie fame being one).

The RO’s plan was for between three and five hours of racing but the way things were going around the Nine Pins and over towards Ma Tsai Pai, this was more likely to be a two- to three-hour affair. Reports were coming in of gusts well into the 20s and the unfortunate Kingsman suffered a devastating broach, bumped into a squid boat, and retired. 

Rushing to Little Palm Beach to lay the finish, it was barely two hours after the start when Alpha Plus took line honours in IRC A at 1:59:24, also winning on handicap. Witchcraft, finishing at 13:42:56, claimed 2nd on handicap, followed by Phoenix and Zannekin.

Occasionally there were showers but the southerly winds remained constant and Dexter II scored a well-deserved line honours (13:01:54) in IRC C. Whiskey Jack finished a minute and a half later, with Blu in 3rd.

Footloose claimed both line and handicap honours in the J-80s while Minnie the Moocher crossed first in HKPN A, but had to accept 2nd on handicap behind a well-sailed and increasingly competitive Jibulai in 1st. Tim Ridley’s Scintilla filled 3rd slot.

In HKPN B, LoTech took line and handicap honours, followed by Gecko and Foxzhead.

Last boat home, at 1430, was Kiasu! bringing to a close a very successful first race – may the winds continue to blow for the next eight races of the UK Sailmakers Typhoon Series 2022.

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