Typhoon Series, Race 1

Talk on shore was of strong southwesterlies with gusts of 18 knots for the first race of the UK Sailmakers Typhoon Series 2019. Weather Underground was predicting rain squalls and even blue skies so there was plenty to look forward to!

As the fleets assembled near the entrance to Port Shelter, ominous clouds gathered inland and very soon the University became a blur. Race officer, Eric Tomter, chose Course 79 for the seven IRC Division A boats and Course 101 for the nine IRC Division B boats – both fleets got away at 1100.

The next start, five minutes later, was for the enthusiastic IRC Division C and Sportsboats. So enthusiastic, in fact, that many were well over and the RO called them all back. But not before he sent the eight boats of HKPN Division A and the six J-80s off on the same Course 101 at 1115. At 1120, the six slower boats of HKPN Division B crossed the start line to follow Course 54.

Behind the line, 16 restless crews waited their turn. But, again, too many were over and the RO called them back but, this time, he issued a ‘black flag’ warning for their third start. Anyone over would be automatically DSQ.

Unsurprisingly, the final start of the day, at 1138, was a sedate affair as the squall followed the boats out of Port Shelter . . . and into brilliant blue skies and dazzling white clouds. That’s Hong Kong in June for you!

The faster boats went around Basalt and Steep Islands, then the Port Shelter mark, back to Steep, Bluff Island to port, then Table Island to starboard and a finish off Little Palm Beach. A good 26 nautical miles of exhilarating sailing in winds sometimes reaching 25 knots. Lighthorse Alpha+ finished in two hours, 19 minutes and six seconds to claim line and handicap honours, followed by Ambush and Seawolf.

In IRC B, sailing the shorter 20-nautical-mile Course 101, the Archambault 40 Avant Garde topped the IRC B table with Juggerknot some than five minutes behind. Blackjack came 3rd .

There were broaches a plenty in the strait between Basalt and Steep and LoTech spectacularly blew its big kite. The Sportsboats had a tough time in the conditions – rounding Bluff Island Red Herring II struggled with its red gennaker while Fly By Wire bumped into Trio and had to retire.

The first IRC C boat home was the well-drilled crew sailing Red Kite II, beating arch rival Dexter 2 by 11 seconds to the line. Arcturus finishing nine seconds after that – nail-biting stuff. It was the same order for the top three on corrected time.

The first Sportsboat, Hotwired, crossed the finish line one minute after two o’clock, followed by Gnarwhal and No Rush. Disappointingly, after such a promising start, Julie Mackenzie’s new crew on Ricochet took three hours and three minutes to finish – better luck next time, girls.

In HKPN A, and despite the loss of its spinnaker, Sunny Lo and crew on LoTech took 1st on corrected, followed by Generations and the venerable Temujin.

The six HKPN B boats sailed the 15-nautical-mile Course 54 which includes rounding Trio, Bluff, Table and Bay Islands. Bridget Chan’s Windseeker was second across the line behind No One Else but won on handicap. Scrumpy and No One Else were 2nd and 3rd respectively.

In the one-design J-80 division, two boats were protested but later retired leaving Baring Asia 2 as winner, Baring Asia 1 as runner-up, and JeNa PaBe in 3rd.

Back at the Hebe Haven Yacht Club’s Garden Bar, the prizegiving started early with sailing manager Rob Allen hosting the presentation of awards. Race 2 of the series – the popular Mirs Bay Race – is scheduled for Saturday, the 22nd of June. Last year, there were a record 66 starters. Will 2019 see more?

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