Southside Open Dinghy Regatta 2020

Youth sailing was again the winner after great competition at the Southside Open Dinghy Regatta 2020, organised by the Aberdeen Boat Club over the weekend of the 28th and 29th of November 2020.

Numbers were comparable with last year with 94 entries in seven classes, with the Optimist fleet sub-divided into two divisions – Main and Intermediate.

The classes were split between two race areas with the 50 Optimists and six 2.4mRs under the watchful eye of race officer, Barry Truhol, off Stanley Bay. The rest of the fleet comprising thirteen 29ers, four 420s, 10 Laser 4.7s and eight Laser Radials were overseen by Inge Strompf and Bonnie Cheng in the waters west of Po Toi Island. Three Wazps also competed but found the choppy conditions on Saturday off Po Toi unsuitable and switched to the Stanley race area on Sunday.

Conditions were relatively similar on both days with a strong northeasterly easing as the day progressed. Sunnier on Saturday with more cloud cover on Sunday, adding a chill factor, but still pleasant. That is except for one young Optimist. Commenting on his disappointing Saturday performance “I was so cold I couldn’t think properly.” Lesson learned. He came better prepared for the elements on Sunday.
The courses off Stanley for the Optimists and 2.4mRs were trapezoid with windward marks at 0.45 and 0.5 nautical miles on Saturday.After rounding Mark 2, the boats then sailed downwind to a gate – or around Mark 3 in the case of the 2.4mRs – and back up to a separate finish line near Mark 2.

The Optimists completed three races on Saturday. The first two ran smoothly but the third suffered three General Recalls after which the ‘U’ flag was hoisted (under which RHKYC’s Emily Polson was the only infringer).

On Sunday, once the breeze had settled down, a trapezoid course was again set with the windward marks at 0.5 and 0.55nautical miles at 30 degrees into Stanley Bay. After another General Recall in the first start of the day (Race 4) for the Optimists, Truhol immediately reverted to the ‘U’ flag for all their subsequent starts. However, while this improved discipline for the restart of Races 4 and 5, in the final race two Intermediate and five Main fleet sailors fell foul of the rule and were penalised accordingly.

In the Optimist Intermediate fleet, Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s nine-year-old Bram ten Berge with four bullets out of six races clamed top spot out of the 21 competitors followed by Hong Kong Sailing Federation’s Karen Leung, with ABC’s Nathan Hon 3rd.

Hebe Haven Yacht Club’s 12-year-old Peter Jessop retained his title with two bullets and two 2nd places in the Optimist Main fleet ahead of ABC’s Cameron Law, also with two bullets. RHKYC’s Emily Polson was able to discard her ‘U’ Flag penalty to finish 3rd out of the 29 competitors on the water.

In the 2.4mRs, Foo Yuen Wai with six bullets and a 2nd in seven races likewise retained his title, as did 2nd placed Puk Chi Yeung, while Leung Wun Wa again finished 3rd.

Conditions for the Wazps on Saturday in the choppy seas proved particularly challenging with some gear failures. The flatter water conditions on Sunday proved more suitable. RHKYC’s Shaan Mutreja, despite missing the first race on Sunday, tied with Thibault Minne for the series but secured 2nd place after winning the final race of the day. The more experienced Adam Neveux claimed the title.

On the Po Toi course, conditions on Sunday morning were considerably stronger at the start, blowing 17 to 18 knots and gusting 20 plus. This resulted in numerous capsizes and a couple of early retirements. There the courses were windward / leewards with marks set at 0.85 and 0.7 nautical miles on Saturday and 0.7 and 0.55 nautical miles on Sunday.

The 29er fleet, comprising 13 entries, was also competing in their Class Championship for 2020 and completed four races on both days with one discard allowed. Hong Kong Sports Institute team sailors and ABC members Casey Law and Augustin Clot, with four bullets, retained their title, relegating Pei Yip and Pasu Chu to 2nd with Juliette Clot and Maddalena Di Salvo 3rd.

Competition was, as always, keen in the 420 class with Sorcha Whyte and Oriane Voets tying with Julia Jacobsen and Duncan Gregor, both with three 1sts, with the tie broken by Whyte and Voets winning the last race. Karise Li and Kyle Tam placed 3rd.

The Laser 4.7s completed six races with HHYC’s Richard Tsui scoring three bullets to beat RHKYC’s Lucas Minne with Alexander Ching 3rd.

Hong Kong Sports Institute team sailor Nicholas Bezy cleaned up in the Laser Radial class with four bullets and two 2nd places, relegating his coach and training partner, Ben Koppelaar, with two wins and four 2nds, to 2nd place with Charlie Robinson 3rd.

Numerous protests occurred regarding, for example, competitors hitting marks, but the introduction of arbitration meant most were satisfactorily resolved with only two incidents going to protest hearings.

It was pleasing that all races were completed. “Last year, Sunday’s racing was abandoned due to lack of wind,” said ABC’s Alex Johnston, while Richard Knight praised the race management team and the 30 plus volunteers from the various yacht clubs who helped man safety boats, lay marks, and organize registration, results and so on.

Above all it was the 111 participating sailors who made it a great event. Such a shame that health restrictions meant they were unable to get the recognition they deserved with no formal prize-giving. However, the winners picked up their prizes and posed for pictures over staggered times on Tuesday afternoon and evening, to comply with Covid 19 social distancing rules. Ah well, perhaps by 2021 the virus will be under control.

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