Reopening Weekend

There was an air of excitement, and relief, on Saturday the 23rd of April 2022, as the Hebe Haven Yacht Club had its ‘reopening’ after nearly four months of stringent Covid restrictions. Young people gathered to rig their Optimists, Laser Picos and RS Quests so they could head out into Port Shelter to experience the joys of sailing again, while parents and older folk gathered in the Garden Bar to share stories of how they were coping with the pandemic, and enjoying the fresh air.

The past four months have been difficult for everyone, particularly those who love sailing. The two-household rule made it almost impossible to operate a keelboat and the authorities would not issue permits for club racing. But, in an encouraging announcement earlier this month, Hong Kong’s chief executive promised that a gradual relaxing of the rules would start on the 21st of April. Restaurants could stay open until 2200 and the number of diners per table would increase to four. Sports clubs could resume their activities but members would have to continue to check in with their phones and wear masks while going about their business . . . even while racing.

Nevertheless, sailors both young and old are a determined lot and are quite used to rules and regulations. These were discussed by coaches and instructors in the Garden Bar as the morning wore on. Getting out on the water, however, was the primary objective and, by midday, some 40 people had gathered at the entrance to Hebe Haven and further out in Port Shelter, below the University.

But first, lunch. Once that was out the way, racing began with the RS Quests enjoying a short course near Sha Tsui light, honing their starting and tacking skills with much encouragement from coach, Andy Service, and other race officials. Powerboats leaving and entering Hebe Haven gave the fleet additional challenges, along with the kayaks and ferries from Sam Sing Wan nearby.

Actually, the purpose of these mini-races was to prepare the sailors for the Open Dinghy Regatta 2022, scheduled for the 21st and 22nd of May.

Further out, 26 Optimists and six Picos underwent training programmes in moderate breezes and swirling mists under the watchful eyes of coaches Stu Pryke and Paul Brownless, all wearing their masks and lifejackets. Leon Man handled the administration from the committee boat.

Back at the Club, parents, friends and families began arriving at 1600. By 1700, the music, provided by DJ Doug French, was booming and the popcorn machine was drawing hungry sailors returning from their exertions on the water. Coach Andy had a de-briefing in the Garden Bar before darkness fell and the aroma of a delicious BBQ wafted through the tables.

The next day (Sunday), reopening ‘celebrations’ continued with members arriving to enjoy quality time with their friends, swapping stories and about sailing and much else besides. Those who decided to go out on the water, or just potter around on their boats, took advantage of the Club’s latest offering – Meals on Keels – a takeaway (in four sizes) with all a sailor could ask for!

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