Sea breeze finally fills in

Bright sunshine, clear blue skies, with banks of white clouds over the land masses, welcomed the fleet as they assembled in the waters south of Hong Kong Island, in the vicinity of Lamma Island, for Race 5 in the seven-race Summer Series 2020, organised by the Aberdeen Boat Club.

The one ingredient lacking as the race officer, Alex Johnston, set up the start line was the sea breeze. There was barely 2 knots from 195 degrees. However, the eternal optimist was confident the breeze would develop, so rather than delaying the start, Johnston opted to get racing underway with the 1025 warning signal on schedule. First off in a clear start was the combined IRC fleet – six IRC Division 1 boats and eight in Division 2. Red Eye and Red Kite II were well placed at the pin end but headed off on startboard tack as if heading for the Lema Islands, while Jarrah and Gambit stayed close to the committee vessel and tacked onto port heading for Lamma with Xena bringing up the rear.

Five minutes later the gun sounded the start for the combined HKPN fleet with five Division A boats and four Division B, along with the Oceanis 45, Sea Wings, which had no rating.

Crystal, the J-80 JeNa PaBe and The Farr Side were best placed on the line. Unfortunately, there was still barely 2 knots of breeze and after over 20 minutes Taka Ano, which needs 10 knots to get it moving, had still not crossed the start line when the line was closed.

Despite its slow start the X-55, Xena, led the fleet at Lamma’s Yuen Kok Light where it was heading for the P1 Buoy chased by four IRC boats Wicked, Gambit, Red Kite II, and Daydream, all hugging the shoreline. Taking the P1 Buoy to port, the IRC fleet was to head for the Weather Beacon southwest of Lamma before returning to the P1 Buoy and heading up the west coast of Lamma to the P6 Buoy and finishing at Yung Shue Wan, a distance of 10.9 nautical miles. Meanwhile, the HKPN boats omitted the P1 Buoy to Weather Beacon loop, progressing straight from the P1 Buoy to the P6 Buoy and the same finish on their 6.5nm course.

Reaching the P1 Buoy first, after an appraisal of the conditions, with a 3-4 knot sea breeze beginning to kick in, which allowed several of the entries to hoist their asymmetrics, Johnston opted to maintain the IRC course. Xena, still leading the fleet, rounded the P1 Buoy first and headed for the Weather Beacon, followed by Wicked, Red Kite II, Juggerknot, Jinn and Jarrah.

Meanwhile JeNa PaBe was making excellent progress leading the HKPN fleet at the P1 Buoy, and carried on toward the P6 Buoy.

The committee boat then moved on to the P6 Buoy, near the Lamma Power Station, where the RO decided to shorten course rather than send them on to Yung Shue Wan where, with the changing tide and relatively light conditions, there was potential for the fleet to get stuck in a hole.

JeNa PaBe was first to receive the gun finishing 23 minutes ahead of the next HKPN A boat, to also take corrected honours by the same margin. Generations finished 2nd in HKPN A, beating Crystal across the line by 53 seconds to also finish 2nd and 3rd on handicap respectively.

Xena was the first IRC Division 1 boat to finish, eight minutes ahead of Neo One, but slipped to 4th on handicap. Juggerknot finished 27 seconds ahead of Jinn but it was Jinn that claimed handicap honours with Juggerknot 2nd and Daydream 3rd.

Red Kite II was the first IRC B boat over the finish line followed by Wicked which beat Gambit by 13 seconds only to  finish 5th on handicap. Powered by its colourful pink kite, Calamansi took handicap honours with Red Kite II 2nd and Gambit 3rd.

Jibulai claimed line honours in HKPN B dropping to 3rd on handicap behind division winner Shun Shui with Boss 2nd.

Despite missing the start, Bob Aylsworth and crew on Taka Ano still motored and sailed the course and were in the vicinity of the P6 buoy at the end with their blue and pink kite.

The slow start and heat wave aside, when the sea breeze kicked in for the 23 boats it provided sufficient pressure to counter the outgoing tide. Jarrah, incidentally, recorded up to 10 knots. This was much to the relief of Johnston having already had Race 3 on Sunday, the 14th of June 2020, cancelled due to Tropical Cyclone Nuri.

Again, due to the Covid-19 regulations, no awards function was held.

Race 6 (an islands course) in the Summer Series 2020 continues on Sunday, the 26th July, with the final on Sunday, the 23rd August, when hopefully restrictions will have been lifted to allow the awards to be presented and the completion of the series celebrated.

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