Round the Island

Sunday, the 12th of November 2017, was a day of varied conditions for the Turkish Airlines Around the Island Race with everything from 2 to 28 knots of easterly breeze being reported across the race track. Approximately 1,400 people on 230 boats (and even two lifejacketed dogs) took part in this year’s 26nm circumnavigation.

Winners of the day were Jamie McWilliam with crew Simon Macdonald and Peter Austin onboard the Etchells 22, Shrub. They crossed the finish line at 14:19:07 to take the overall win with a corrected time of 04:59:02.

Said McWilliam, “Sailors talk about how the Round the Island Race is never the same but today was really not the same. I thought that Helmuth Hennig’s Marten 49, Vineta, sailed the best from Green Island to the finish. I don’t think they missed a single thing. There were more lead changes in the Etchells than I can ever remember.

“It was very punchy not to shorten the race at Green Island and I would imagine that a lot of people moaned about this but there will be just as many who didn’t. The weather was wet but, to be honest, after the reach down past Shek O Rock we were soaked, so by the time it started raining it made no difference to us at all.”

It took two start lines located off of Causeway Bay and Hung Hom and 22 consecutive starts to get the fleets away. There were boat breaking conditions right from the start with the first casualty heading back to the club by 0830 with a broken mast and boom. The boats tacked their way up the right hand side of the harbour, then through Lei Yue Mun.

Once the leaders reached Shek O, there were met by swells of 2 to 3m, which proved difficult for some of the smaller boats. Soldiering on was Foo Yuen-wai, on a 24.mR, the smallest boat in the fleet. Foo is the first single-handed Para athlete to compete, finishing at 16:11:24.

Another first was Sean Law on board SM Kwan and Thomas Wong’s Sunfast 3600, Ding Dong. Sean who is just 77 days old did his first Round the Island Race with mother and father Sally and Dominick.

Kites were hoisted after the fleet rounded Cape d’Aguilar with gusts reaching 28 knots. There were a few exciting broaches . . . and a few more retirements. However, with the large swell running through the Beaufort Channel, some boats were able to surf in on the run towards Stanley Gate.

The swell tapered off as did the breeze, as the fleet approached Round Island. A park up ensued off the Cyberport Gate, where supporting sponsors St James’s Place were waiting to greet the fleet on a spectator yacht. Once the fleet rounded Green Island the breeze increased a little but there were still a few holes through the harbour. First to make the circumnavigation was Bruce Anson and Wei Jie’s Discover Sailing Asia, an RC44, with an elapsed time of 04:19:21.

Simon Crockett on board Marcel Leidts Ker 46, Zannekin, remarked after racing, “Well organised, the safety boats were in abundance. We couldn’t do anything about the weather but the organisation was excellent.”

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