Regatta’s don’t just happen!
Planning for this year’s Asian Open Regatta started in June with James Ford and myself sitting down and reviewing the 2014 event and how we could improve the whole event experience. In my mind I wanted it to be a type of exclamation mark to what had been a great year of sailing activities at the LBC, both in participation and in the standard of sailing. In essence, we all lifted our game in 2015 and this event should be the icing on the cake.
Once we had a plan then we set to action. We formed a core group of people we could rely on to get “stuff” done and boy did they! Here’s the low-down to what happened over the two days of sailing.
At 10 pm on Friday night the wind came in as the HKO predicted (well knock me over with a feather duster….they got it right!). Saturday morning we woke to an Easterly blowing a solid 15 gusting 17 knots. Seasoned hands wore smiles and those who had sailed little thru the season were looking to the sea and frowning as they rigged their boats…tension in the boat park…Game on!
Race Officer Bo Fussing set a course just outside Peng Chau that headed into the Easterly airstream. The outgoing tide made for some challenging choppy seas. The larger Hobie 16 and Dart fleets started first, with virtually all boats opting for the left side of the course. Capsizes were a regular feature around the course, and the safety boats remained busy all day. The ‘fast’ boats made up of Formula 16s and 18s were in the second start. Once again, boats went left on the first beat to test the winds. The Nacra 17 and Viper were over the line at the start, and the Viper turned around and went back to restart putting her well behind the pack. Mick Guinea and Steve Devlin were off and flying, being doggedly chased by Mike Scantlebury and David Harris. The Viper was making a comeback coming into the top mark and Tom Nunan could not believe where this turn of speed had come from until he realised his crew Gabriel Kicks had fallen off the boat some 300 meters back! Karl Chan led the first race to take the win in the Hobie Fleet and Jimmy and Iris Shum let all know they meant business in Open Div 2!
After relatively conservative starts in the first race, the Hobie fleet was pushing the line in the second. Tough battles at the front of the fleet continued with Karl Chan/Sunny Lai, Christian Wright/Kit Tong and Ross Jolliffe/Michele Felder pushing each other constantly for the lead. Karl managed to break the shroud pin on his boat during the race and would have to miss the next few races, effectively ending his chances to win the regatta.
In the Formula fleet, the next race was very close with the Infusion, Wildcat and Viper all neck and neck up the first beat. Unfortunately for the Viper, it all got a little too close at the top mark, with the Viper limping away from the wrong end of a port/starboard incident and quickly began sinking due to a large gash in the hull. The Infusion with Guinea/Devlin was charging and the Nacra 17 of Doris Hung and Christoph Grebe were finding their lines and pushing hard followed by the combination of Scanto and David Harris. Steve and Jade Wallace went for a swim, eventually to retire and an old bridle fly decided it had enough on the Nacra 16, and Andy Keith and James Ford limped home with a snapped spinnaker pole.
The Hobie fleet continued on with the Ross/Michele partnership leading by a single point over Christian/Kit by the end of the day, but Gavin Sum and Kate Lai were fast getting their act together and visiting sailors from Japan Teppei and Michico Tanaka improved as the day went on. Jimmy & Iris Shum returned to their Dart-based roots and dominated proceedings the entire weekend. Even the all-star pairing of Joe Shieh & Henry Kwok were not enough to master the Shums. Cathy Lam made a valiant effort to single-hand her Shadow in challenging conditions, while Steve and Tim Metz decided to test the strength of the mainsail by launching themselves into it….Mainsail 1, Metz 0. Rookie helm, Cindy Chung, sailing with the brave and white-knuckled Ross Taylor and managed to survive the day and the “Hobie salute” (backwards flip with both hulls in the air) reigned supreme! With racing for the day complete, our visiting “Pirate” Michael Guinea advised on boat repairs and rig settings over a few beers and his wealth of experience, and council was appreciated by all.
The morning started as the evening had finished…boat repairs! Those expecting the wind to abate thru the night were in for a surprise…. Day 2 was supposed to feature kinder, gentler winds… at least that’s what the HKO said! “Huey” the wind god had other ideas and threw in a Northerly at 10-14 kts just to confuse the fleet.
Race Officer Bo Fussing decided to set the top mark in the precise area where the wind splits over the land – he wasn’t to know as the Committee boat was some 1000 meters to the south swinging off the anchor. This made picking the best route to the top mark a puzzle but the start line was a dead give-a-way as favouring the pin end so boats were enticed left to start but found themselves needing to tack off early as they were headed farther out. The wind did seem to increase on the Starboard side of the course probably as a result of it accelerating thru the Ching Mah bridge area, however the winds closer to the top mark were not so consistent so many boats overstated the lay line early or found themselves headed again as they approached the mark.
Congestion reigned supreme as this sequence shows. Doris got “very bossy” and like all women she eventually got her way (I was scared ….she’s a crazy woman!)
The results were very close, with the leading margin on the Hobie fleet only 1 point going into the final long distance race. The course turned out to be 80% reaching, and the remainder up wind. Another excellent start form Christian/Kit saw them take an early lead around the top mark. A long broad reach down to Kau Yi Chau showed the Hobie 16s at their best. The Formula boat start saw Mick Guinea fall over the back of the boat and then almost immediately the jib sheet snapped where it went through the jib car…. finally the chance the other spinnaker boats had waited for! Quick repairs saw Mick and Steve limit the loss to only 100 meters but in 5th position. The wind was too strong for the Formula boats to use their spinnakers at that angle and they made no gains on the leaders. The Nacra 17 managed a spectacular pitch-pole and decided to retire from the race…very disappointing for Doris and Christoph as they had sailed brilliantly up to this point. Scantlebury/Harris eased their way into the lead of the Formula boats and were pointing higher than Guinea /Devlin as a result of the lack of tension on the jib sheet.
A quick tack abeam Peng Chau to remain in the wind field paid dividends and Scanto / Harris were caught 100 m from the finish line by the Infusion of Guinea/Devlin…..bloody hard work! The Hobie fleet similarly saw Karl/Sunny make their passing move on the final tack into the line with a big shift to the left catching a number of sailors out.
Overall Regatta Champion: Michael Guinea / Steve Devlin
Open Div 1
- Michael Guinea / Steve Devlin
- Michael Scantlebury / David Harris
- Doris Hung / Christoph Grebe
- Jimmy Shum / Iris Chan
- Joe Shieh / Henry Kwok
- Lai Ka Yau / Michelle Kwan
- Christian Wright / Kit Tong
- Ross Jolliffe / Michele Feilder
- Brian Tsang / David Leung
The Asian Open Regatta has once again proven to be the race that features more thrills, spills and social spectacles than any other…. and it will be better again in 2016!
We at Blood Red would like to thank the Lantau Boat Club for letting us support the event by supplying the official rash guards, race shirts, race buoy advertising as well as trophies. For a comprehensive list of sponsors and other supporters of the event, please click here (http://www.lantauboatclub.com/images/2015/11/2015-LBC-Asian-Open-Regatta.pdf).