Ruffian Class Championships

Overcast skies and drizzle greeted the Ruffian fleet as it headed out of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club for the Hung Hom start of the Ruffian Class Championships 2018 in Victoria Harbour. The promise of Force 4-5 winds spurred a full turnout of 14 boats with the countdown beginning at midday.

Heading into 6-8 knots of northeasterly, the boats got away to a clean start at 1205 on a triangle, followed by a sprint out of the harbour, through Lei Yue Mun, and to a finish at TCS4 channel marker (past Junk Bay).

But conditions soon lightened and, for the sailors, it became a ‘tactical race’. Crews worked hard to keep moving and avoid contact with each other (and the mark). Coming back towards Hung Hom, spinnakers flapped and sagged, and the wind swung through 180 degrees. Some boats drifted towards the impounded gambling ship, Starry Metropolis. Slowly, though, the fleet inched its way around the bottom mark and made for North Point on the righthand side of the course. Then the kites appeared against the Eastern Corridor, with Buster, Scallywag and Hombre leading a breakaway group some distance from the main the fleet.

Off Shau Kei Wan, a mark close inshore was left to port and here, in a hole, the mid fleet and tail enders caught up. Then the breeze filled in near Lei Yue Mun and Hombre, with Jim Ryan helming, came storming through and looked a sure winner. But, not far behind, Cathy Lam helming Larrikin, was gaining ground fast. Hombre, though, could not be beaten.

The boats finished off TCS4 on a 330-degree line, all receiving horns from the Fragrant Harbour photo boat on station, in the following order: Hombre, Larrikin, Helios, Buster, Picaro, Brigand, V9, Miss Piggy, Austerity, Bandolero, Skellum, Scallywag, Diablo and Schannuluke.

Hong Kong’s active and rejuvenated Ruffian fleet (with sister fleets in Cork and Dublin) is one of the mainstays of class racing in Victoria Harbour. The 40-year-old boats, with their class-approved carbonfibre racing sails, also venture up to Port Shelter and, once a year, participate in the RHKYC’s Around the Island Race (November). Interports are held in Ireland.

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