At 1320hrs today, after weeks of intense preparation and safety scrutineering, 12 boats crossed the start line for the seventh edition of this 673nm Category 1 offshore race from Hong Kong to Nha Trang, Vietnam, which started in 1996.
With 6kts of easterly in front of RHKYC’s Kellett Island clubhouse, RO Simon Boyde made the call to lay a Club start and was vindicated when the fleet cleared Lai Yue Mun gap without stopping and continued past Shek O Rock and out of sight in 12kts of breeze.
Alive made an almost perfect start and, along with Syd Fischer’s Team Ragamuffin, was first through the gap. At 1700hrs HKT, Rags was averaging nearly 15kts VMG and had built up the expected lead on the water, 6nm ahead of RP66 Alive and 10nm ahead of TP52 FreeFire. The battle for IRC Overall is a lot more difficult to call, with Alive currently showing at the top of the list, but with Black Baza, FreeFire and Ambush very much on her transom.
ARK 323, hoping to use the race as their Qualifier for this year’s Rolex Sydney to Hobart race, had a setback when their propeller parted company with the boat while still in the typhoon shelter. Shrewdly, the TP52 started with the fleet and sailed as far as Lei Yue Mun before returning to Kellett Island to be lifted out and refitted with a propeller donated by RHKYC’s Frank Pong. Operational once more, she was returned to the water and continued with her race, although she currently lies well behind the fleet.
The current ETA for Syd Fischer’s Team Ragamuffin is mid-afternoon on Saturday, which would leave her well outside her stated target of finishing inside 40 hours, however stronger winds are expected to kick in later in the race which may still make a new record feasible.