The Rolex China Sea Race 2014 commenced yesterday (Wednesday, April 16) when the 34 entrants set off from Victoria Harbour for Subic Bay in the Philippines.
This biennial 565 nautical mile off-shore, blue water race first run in 1962, is one of the main highlights of the Hong Kong Yachting season every second year and attracts boats from various countries in the region.
The boats compete for two trophies: The Sunday Telegraph Trophy awarded for line honours and the China Sea Race Trophy for the winner on corrected time.
Recent line honours winners are Geoff Hill’s Genuine Risk (2012); Neil Pryde’s Hifi (2010 and 2008); P Morton Boracay (2006); Frank Pong’s Jelik (2004 and 2002); and Sam Chan won in FreeFire (1988). All of these winners, except Boracay and Jelik, are competing again this year.
Meanwhile, the past five winners of the China Sea Race Trophy are: Jonathan Mahony’s Zanzibar, Neil Pryde’s HiFi, M Fidel/E Echauz’s Subic Centennial, N Burns/F Kinmonth’s Mandrake and Sam Chan’s FreeFire.
Since its line honours win on the last occasion of the race, Super Maxi Genuine Risk has been renamed Ragamuffin 90 and is skippered by world renowned sailor, Sydney Fischer.
Geoff Hill, who raced Genuine Risk in the last race, is this time skippering Antipodes, a Smith 72 Custom.
Four 52 footers join these big boats in the IRC Racer 0 category: Hifi (Welbourne 52 Custom); and three TP52’s, FfreeFire (Sam Chan), Lucky (Bryon Ehrhart) and Standard Insurance Centennial (Ernesto Echauz).
Boats are divided into three classes: Racer, Premier and Cruiser, with the Racer class sub-divided into Racer-0, Racer-1, Racer-3 Divisions.
Competing in Racer-1 category are Ambush, Australian Maid, KukuKERchu, Mandrake, Orient Express, Ramrod, Redeye, Signal 8, Surfdude and Zanzibar.
Racer-2 category includes, Krampus, Red Kite II, Sea Wolf, Sell Side Dream and Talking Head.
There are six entries in Premier and seven in Cruiser classes.
The race started at 1.20pm on Wednesday and the first boats are expected to finish the race in Subic Bay on the afternoon, or evening, of Friday April 18—with other boats finishing on Saturday, Sunday or even Monday depending upon the weather.
Typical weather for this race is good wind for the first day and then calming down in the latter stages of the race.
The current record holder for the race is Karl Kwok on his Volvo 60 Beau Geste, who set a time of 47:43:07 in 2000.