Monsoon Spring 6

It was a glorious afternoon when Hebe One dropped anchor in the middle of Port Shelter and began preparing for the start of Race 6 of the San Miguel Monsoon Spring Series 2021. A healthy 8-9 knots of easterly breeze was recorded, blowing through the Cascade Bay gap where a windward mark, at a distance of 1.3 nautical miles, at 90 degrees, was laid.

Conditions were such that race officer, Rob Allen, aided by Sarah Houghton, opted to send the fleet on one of the least-used, but most scenic of courses – Course 44, a clockwise circumnavigation of Kau Sai Chau. During the summer months, the channel near the Yim Tin Tsai Typhoon Shelter is particularly busy with motor and watersports boats, so restrictions are imposed by the Marine Department on sailboat racing.

First off on schedule at 1400 were the 12 boats in IRC with a wide range of handicaps from 1.414 for the TP52, Alpha Plus, to the 0.977 for the X-99, X-Terminator. It was a close start between Wicked, XT, H3O and Alpha Plus, which opted for the pin end. Quest, X-Terminator and RB faced their own tussle. RB tacked soon after crossing the line and narrowly avoided X-Terminator.

The 14 boats in HKPN followed five minutes later with Ichiban and Ricochet leading the charge. Close to the committee boat, Bits  & Pieces called ‘No Room’ on Foxzhead, which ignored the call resulting in a glancing blow to the side of Bits & Pieces, but fortunately no damage. Foxzhead completed a penalty turn, thereby exonerating itself. Pepper & Salt was a late starter.

Having rounded the windward mark to port, the fleet, mostly flying their asymmetric spinnakers, sailed down the channel between Sharp Island and Kau Sai Chau.

Sadly, RB rounded the windward mark of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s Sportsboats and Dragon Races being run nearby. Having completed the race, RB announced its retirement.

The Sportsboats and Dragons normally race in the Series but, on Saturday, made an exception.

Alpha Plus was the first to round the Green Beacon to starboard at the head of the channel and commenced tacking along the channel between Yim Tin Tsai and the Sai Kung peninsula towards the West Sea Coffer Dam at High Island. As the afternoon progressed, the breeze began to ease in this area slowing the tail-enders. It was also a matter of avoiding the wake surfers, particularly those in the water, highlighting why restrictions are imposed in the summertime.

At the end of the channel, passing Tai Tau Chau to starboard, the fleet sailed into Rocky Harbour rounding Bay Islet to starboard.

In view of the wide range of handicaps the race officers, rather than finishing the fleet back in the vicinity of the start area, chose to shorten the 15-nautical-mile course at the Ma Tsai Pai Light.

First to finish in IRC was Alpha Plus in 1 hour 17 minutes and 16 seconds. Ambush followed nine minutes later beating Zannekin to the line by just nine seconds. Ambush claimed handicap honours with Alpha Plus 2nd and Zannekin relegated to 4th behind Quest. It was a close race for 5th to 7th place on handicap with the MC31, H3O, just having the edge over Outrageous by seven seconds which beat X-Terminator by 13 seconds.

It was similarly close with the top five HKPN places. Bits & Pieces  took line honours in an elapsed time of 1 hour 55 minutes and 58 seconds and, much to the relief of helm Mark Houghton, hung on to handicap honours, beating Bucephalus by 60 seconds. Bucephalus crossed the line in 5th place but captured 2nd on handicap, 9 seconds ahead of Ichiban in 3rd, which would have preferred a slightly longer course. AmaZe crossed the line in 2nd but slipped to 4th on corrected, 17 seconds behind Ichiban. The young Hebe Dragons on the J-80, Jelik 7, crossed the line 7th, finishing 5th on handicap 16 seconds behind AmaZe. Miss LeVa, which started the race and initially given 2nd place was later eliminated for not having a sail number.

Late starter, Pepper & Salt, managed to overhaul Scrumpy, which brought up the rear, finishing in just over three hours.

While it was hoped that San Miguel beer would be handed out on the water, conditions were just too rough. So, back to the club it was with the Garden Bar besieged by thirsty sailors, telling many a tale of a most enjoyable afternoon on the water.

Geometric Races 7 & 8 are scheduled for Saturday the 17th of April, while an additional race day, to complete the Series, has been added to the calendar with the re-sail of geometric races 1 & 2 now wrapping-up the Series as well as the Monsoon Series 2020-21 on the 1st of May 2021.

As a footnote, the Hebe Haven Yacht Club wishes to congratulate Stephanie Norton on qualifying in Oman to represent Hong Kong in the Laser Radial Class at the Tokyo Olympics.

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