Monsoon Spring 4 & 5

It was brightening up as race officer, Rob Allen, and assistant race officer, Rob Stanley (from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club), assessed conditions in Port Shelter, early on Saturday afternoon, the 27th of March 2021. Ahead were two scheduled geometric races – Races 4 & 5 – in the San Miguel Monsoon Spring Series 2021.

Ever the optimist, Allen was predicting (and probably praying) that a 10- to 14-knot southerly sea-breeze would fill in. Sure enough, soon after 1300, a five- to six-knot breeze was recorded on the upper deck of the committee boat, Hebe One. It continued to build, reaching 10 knots but swinging between 130 and 160 degrees.

Opting for two windward / leeward races the windward mark, A1 for the IRC Division and Sportsboats, was dropped at a distance of  0.9nm and A2 at 0.7nm for the HKPN fleet and Dragon Class both at 150 degrees. The leeward mark was in front of the committee vessel, with a long start line of 300 metres to cater for the bigger IRC boats, including the TP52, Alpha Plus (ex: Luna Rosa).

With roles assigned to the race management volunteers, the countdown got underway for the nine yachts in IRC, at 1355 with Ambush and Alpha Plus, at the pin end, leading across the line at 1400. Near the committee boat, the MC31, H3O, had a close encounter with Quest although H3O ignored the calls to complete a penalty turn. No protest was ultimately pursued.

Noting that the top mark was well positioned, three of the fleet, including Blu, opted for the right side of the course with the rest, the left.

Next off, five minutes later, were the six Sportsboats, also given Course 24, two laps of the longer course, along with 11 HKPN boats on the two laps of the shorter course. In Sportsboats, Catch 22, Fly By Wire and Ricochet led off the line whilst Bucephalus and Ichiban led HKPN. The VX One, FAB, just made it to the start to bring up the rear in Sportsboats. Scrumpy shut the door on Bits & Pieces beside the committee vessel forcing Bits & Pieces to bail out and restart.

In a somewhat less organised start, the 11 Dragons finally got away at 1410 with Eaux Vives and Davinloong, which had been hovering along the start line, best placed. They were also on two laps of the short course.

There was plenty of action at the leeward mark on the first rounding. Several yachts left it too late to drop their kites and were forced to sail beyond the mark including Outrageous, H3O and Bits & Pieces, which lost control of its spinnaker sheets sending its kite flying.

In IRC, Alpha Plus completed its two laps in 29 minutes 49 seconds while the other fleets were all close to the anticipated race times of 45 to 60 minutes. Consequently, an additional lap was added for the IRC division in Race 5 with still two laps for the rest.

Again, first off at 1500 were IRC with Zannekin and Alpha Plus leading. Ten minutes later, the HKPN and Sportsboats followed, on two laps of their respective courses. The Magic 25, Sidewinder, was obliged to tack on to port to clear the pin but then had to tack back quickly to avoid the oncoming Fly By Wire. Meanwhile Lazy Piggy, in HKPN, lived up to its name with a more leisurely approach.

At 1515, the 10 remaining Dragons (Arrow having retired) clustered around the committee boat, got away with Davinloong and Eaux Vives again among the flight leaders.

Conditions eased to around 8 knots as the final race of the day progressed.

Alpha Plus took line honours in both races and, separated by only seconds, claimed handicap honours in Race 4 but lost out to Ambush, sporting a new main sail, in Race 5, which finished 3rd in Race 4. Zannekin finished with two 2nds. Keeping competition keen, all finished with four points towards the Series results. Blu and Talkinghead were the best of the rest, both finishing 4th and 5th respectively in both races.

The Magic 25 Fly By Wire took line honours in Race 4 for Sportsboats but lost out to FAB, with its lower handicap for 1st on corrected. Starting on time in Race 5 FAB took both line and handicap honours with Fly By Wire 2nd. Ricochet, returning to the fray after a lay-off, secured two 3rd places, much to the delight of its skipper, Julie Mackenzie, and her all female crew.

LoTech took line and handicap honours in Race 4 with Ichiban 2nd and No One Else 3rd.
Having retired in Race 4, Bits & Pieces made amends in Race 5 with line honours but was relegated to 5th on corrected. LoTech again took handicap honours with the J-80 Bridget Chan (Baring Asia 2) Jelik7 in 3rd.

Eaux Vives took the Dragon honours in Race 4 by 18 seconds over Davinloong with Phyloong II in3rd. In Race 5, Phyloong II claimed the honours, finishing two seconds ahead of Dragonfly, with Davinloong 3rd.

Back at the Garden Bar in the Hebe Haven Yacht Club, again social distancing regulations were still in place, preventing a prize-giving. But skippers and crews, in groups of four, reminisced over a splendid afternoon on the water with relatively sunny conditions, a steady breeze, flat waters and finally sponsored San Miguel beer. What could be better!

Island Race 6 follows on Saturday, the 10th of April. Geometric Races 7 & 8 on Saturday the 17th and possibly a re-sail of the abandoned Races 1 & 2 on the 1st of May 2021 to conclude the Series.

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