Typoon 1 . . . canned

After months of lockdown and curtailing of sailing events, there was much anticipation for the first of nine races in the UK Sailmakers Typhoon Series 2020 on Sunday, the 7th of June 2020.

A trough of low pressure impacting Hong Kong saw the thunderstorm warning hoisted at 0220 and the amber rain storm signal at 0620. So, once again, conditions did not look promising.

Normally weather prediction applications are fairly reliable but they got it wrong with their expectations of 11-12 knots. Surprising, too, that gusts of 82km were recorded earlier!

Still patience is a virtue so the race officers, Nigel Slattery and Eric Tomter, and the race management team after assembling on the committee vessel, shortly after 0900, chose to postpone the start for one hour. The first warning signal changed from 1055 to 1155.

However, by 1020, there was little improvement and the start was further delayed to 1230.

Meanwhile, the committee boat headed out into Port Shelter to recce the conditions. Again it did not look promising in the drizzle. Occasional flashes of lightening could still be seen over the land with Nick Southwood of Whiskey Jack concerned about even starting the race.

Sent to lay marks at Bay and Table Island, there was an encouraging 6.6-knot breeze at Table but, by noon, it was down to 2.2 knots . . . and falling. The race officers then decided to head further out, closer to Shelter Island, with the fleet following. It certainly looked more promising and, by 1315, arrangements were underway to lay the outer distance mark of the start line.

But, once again, the wind shut down and the race officers abandoned racing for the day, sending everyone home. It was a big disappointment for many, particularly boats like Gambit that had travelled all the way from Hong Kong Island through the storm.

In total 36 of the 61 registered boats turned up including 17 of the 21 entries in IRC, which was to include the first outing for the new-to-Hong Kong TP52, Alpha Plus (ex-Luna Rossa), 15 of the 24 in HKPN, two of the five J-80s and two of five Sportsboats – Havoc and Furious One.

Despite the abandonment of the race a few boats, including Authority and Team Abercrombie on the J-80 Baring Asia 2, stayed on to get in some practice. Conditions were fluky, though, with numerous holes, proving there would have been little chance of completing a fair race.

Meanwhile, back at the Hebe Haven Yacht Club’s Garden Bar, the Ichiban team were jokingly suggesting that the race management team had deliberately been torturing them (possibly why they were first back at the bar . . . ).

Wrapping up, Slattery and Tomter concluded that it had been very difficult with the wind not from where it was expected, ultimately resulting in a damp squid.

The UK Sailmakers Typhoon Series 2020 continues with Race 2, The Mirs Bay Race, on Saturday, the 20th of June with the return pursuit race, although no longer part of the series, on Sunday, the 21st .

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