Classic Yacht Rally

A rally is not a race. It’s a sail-in-company on a given route, with a sumptuous feast the other end. Or that’s how the Aberdeen Boat Club sees it. There are plenty of prizes and, if you anchor overnight, there’s a hearty breakfast for you the next day. What more could a sailor could wish for?

From May 2005 till May 2022, with one or two years missing, the club has staged its popular Classic Yacht Rally and attracted all manner of boats – classic and contemporary – and even an ‘ancient’ Chinese junk (Long Hai). From the 32-foot, teak Koala (1960), through the elegant S&S 36, Snow Goose II, the 38-foot, Colin Archer ketch, Jadalinkir (1946), to the graceful 112-foot, Camper & Nicholsons, Merrymaid (1904), the rally has been graced by many beautiful craft.

Here’s a link to our coverage of the first Classic Yacht Rally where Iain Chapman won a Fragrant Harbour Voila Chevalier watch for his classic yacht, Attica   :

This year, with weeks to go, the event was in doubt. Would Hong Kong’s complex Covid restrictions see the rally postponed, or worse, cancelled like so many other sailing events in the last four months?

Then came word that outdoor activities could resume in May. Surely too late to get things organised you would think but, a rally is not a race, and the club rose admirably to the occasion. A date was set, entries received and, at 1030 on Saturday, the 7th of May, the club launch, Shun Fung, left the dock and made for Tung O Wan, southeast of Lamma Island.

Anchor was dropped and, at 1120, marine services manager, Alex Johnston, welcomed everyone and wished them a pleasant trip to the Soko Islands. The wind was blowing 12 knots from the northeast and the fleet of eight boats left Shun Fung to starboard and sailed past Turtle Cove, some going high after rounding the bottom of Lamma. The faster boats took a more direct route.

A light drizzle dampened the wind in the open water below Cheung Chau but all boats kept moving, most using their kites. Shun Fung followed the fleet before speeding up to anchor just east of the Sokos.

First to round Tau Lo Chau and pass the club boat was Five O One at 1429, with John Berry at the helm. A support boat, with the ever-cheerful Sai Fuk driving, shepherded the Oceanis 43 into the protected south-facing bay of Siu A Chau. The plan had originally been to try a different anchorage this year – the east-facing bay of Tai A Chau further south – but Johnston felt it was too exposed and wisely decided on the same sheltered water as last year.

In the distance, Orrin Blue approached from taking part in the COA’s Cooking Cup in Repulse Bay. Clearly the crew take dining afloat seriously! Their arrival swelled the numbers to nine boats.

Last boat home was Kantadur Luka after which Shun Fung upped anchor and motored in to Siu A Chau Wan to meet up with an anchored club junk. On board the junk, the general manager and his team were preparing the evening’s curry buffet, dessert and drinks.

And what a feast it turned out to be! Crews from all rally participants clambered aboard and tucked in to the delicious chicken tikka masala, the palak paneer, the fish madras, the pineapple salad, the pulao rice and the sweets (gulab jamun and gajar ka halwa). Compliments, once again, to maître cuisinier en chef, Philippe de Manny, and the club’s F&B division.

Prizes were then presented to the oldest yacht – Sawadee and Easy Breezy, best performing classic – Bowline, most colourful crew – Taka Ano, and spirit of the event – Karma. Prizes were also presented to everyone who took part and even latecomer Orrin Blue!

The next day, the GM and his staff swung into action at 0530 and laid on a filling breakfast in the peace and quiet of the beautiful Soko Islands. Fed and watered, the sailors set about preparing for their return journeys and, by midday, all boats were bowling along in a breeze of some 15-18 knots, concluding yet another memorable Classic Yacht Rally.

Widget is loading comments...