The 2018 edition of the Rolex China Sea Race got underway at 1120hrs today with blue skies and an easterly breeze of 8kts. The start line, located in front of Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s Kellett Island Clubhouse, was a bit hectic with most boats favouring the committee boat end of the line, resulting in a few bumps between boats and an individual recall being signalled for Rampage 2, Seawolf and Sitka.
Hong Kong’s iconic skyline provided the perfect backdrop as the fleet headed east towards Lei Yue Mun Gap. First through the gap (the smallest distance between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon) was Alive, the current race record holder of 47h 31m 08s – followed shortly after by Karl Kwok's MOD 70 Beau Geste. After the gap, MOD Beau Geste quickly extended in front of the fleet and is currently travelling along at around 24kts.
As the competitors make their 565nm journey across the South China Sea to Subic Bay, the breeze is forecasted to build to overnight maxing out at around 20kts; hopefully resulting in some champagne sailing as the fleet make their way towards the Philippines.
29 boats are taking part in the 2018 Rolex China Sea Race with 265 competitors hailing from 22 territories including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Mainland China, Denmark, England, French, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UK and USA.
With all going to plan, the first boat expected to arrive is MOD Beau Geste, with Karl and his crew estimating to finish tomorrow afternoon. Said Skipper Gavin Brady, “At the moment our ETA is mid-afternoon on 29 March. We want to get there before the breeze starts to die; the thing with this race is you can work so hard and then if you get your timing wrong into Subic Bay… well then your work goes down the drain. This is actually not that different to the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race when you have got to get around Tasman Island at the right time. I think approaching the Philippines in the daylight is very important so you can see the wind patterns. For a lot of the crew, it’s been a long time since we've done the race so we don't even really remember the coastline and the size of the hills and the channel coming in. It'll be a big advantage for us to finish in the daylight.”
To keep up with the progress of the yacht, follow the YB tracker online at https://yb.tl/rolexchinasea2018