Beneteau Cup 2021

There was much preparation for the inaugural Beneteau Cup Hong Kong with the Aberdeen Boat Club engaged as caterers, marine logistics and race management. The event took place over the weekend of the 15th and 16th of May 2021 and attracted an impressive 21 boats while the combination of fine weather, agreeable racing conditions and excellent support set a high standard.

For 35 years, Beneteau has enjoyed an enviable reputationin local sailing, thanks largely to Mike Simpson who was appointed the representative for this popular French brand in 1985.

What’s more, a number of Beneteau events, most notably the rendezvous and rallies held from the late 1990s, attracted names like Ichiban, Polar Star and O’Sea which, amazingly, appeared on the start line of the Beneteau Cup Hong Hong Kong 2021 – a tribute to the resilience and durabilityof these production boats.

The southeasterly winds were a little shy of the Force 3 to 4 predictions for Saturday, the 15th of May, but enough for Race Officer, Alex Johnston, to choose IRC Course #18. This caused some initial confusion as there were two divisions – A and B . . . and both were HKPN. Over the radio, Johnston explained and repeated and, in the end, it all became clear. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 restrictions, a formal Race Briefing had not taken place but had been done in small groups or individually at Simpson Marine’s office on Thursday afternoon. Not all of the skippers had attended! Johnston also told everyone to drop Chesterman Buoy as a mark of the course due to the strong tide and an objection from Marine Department for ABC’s event race permit to use the mark.

The committee boat, Shun Fung, was stationed south of Middle Island with the ODM in towards Repulse Bay. The RO, aware that some of the crews lacked experience, set a long line with no windward mark. The five-minute countdown for Division A began at 1055.

On the 1100 gun, Sea Monkey and Polar Star III were called OCS and had to return but it wasn’t long before the A boats were bowling along, picking up some nice lifts off Chung Hom Kok. Seven of eight entries in Division B started at 1105 (no show by Le Petit Bateau).

Under blue skies and puffs of white cloud, 20 Beneteaus sailed around Bluff Head and into the Beaufort Channel, leaving a club mark to port.

The boats then passed Fury Rocks and rounded Sung Kong to starboard before tacking back through Lo Chau Mun – at 71 metres the deepest channel in the territory.

By this time, the wind had eased a little and the RO was considering a shortened course. But it wasn’t long before the leaders had rounded Castle Rock and begun their run to the finish off Round Island.

First home at 14:14:08 was Polar Star III but, on corrected, had to settle for 2nd in Division A behind Generations. In 3rd was the Oceanis 51.1, Legende II.

In Division B, and despite a late start, line and handicap honours went to Foxzhead. 2nd place went to Shindig and 3rd to Yaeger. Arete retired and the last boat home was Captain Ernie at 16:36:53.

From the finish it was a short hop to the ABC’s Middle Island clubhouse and a sumptuous buffet with tables of food appearing around every corner! The wine flowed and the ti’punch, a French speciality, added to the occasion.

A Pursuit Race following Course #14 was scheduled for Sunday, with boats leaving at set times according to their HKPN rating. The RO pointed out to everyone that it was a white sails race, meaning no spinnakers allowed.

Conditions were much the same as Saturday and the southeasterly freshened to 10-12 knots off Bluff Head. After passing the club mark in the Beaufort Channel, the boats rounded Fury Rocks, this time leaving out Sung Kong.

Then the hard crew work started, tacking back and forth through Lo Chau Mun. Fortunately, things were made a lot easier by the wind funneling between the two islands, Beaufort and Po Toi. After leaving Castle Rock to starboard, it was a run into Tai Tam Bay and a prize-giving on a secluded beach on the western shore of the d’Aguilar Peninsula.

Division A winner was Sparkles, followed by Legende II and Calamansi. Lottie retired.

In the B division, White Crane took the honours, with Foxzhead in 2nd and Yaeger 3rd.

Again, the F&B division of the Aberdeen Boat Club did a sterling job of setting up a bivouac, ferrying supplies ashore and providing a barbecue with ice-cold drinks to the sunburnt sailors.

Prizes were presented by Vianney Guézénec of Beneteau and Richard Allen of Simpson Marine. Alex Johnston was presented with a prize as a ‘thank you’ to Aberdeen Boat Club for hosting and running the event.

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