Powerful gusts sent boats back to their moorings early in an incident-filled day of racing in the waters of Hong Kong last weekend.
Strong winds generally between 12 and 23 knots, but gusting up to 30 knots, last Saturday (April 6) tested the rigging and crews in Races-7 and 8 of the 12-race Hebe Haven Yacht Club’s Spring Saturday Series. The event was again a combined race with RHKYC.
Race-7 started off with a 12-knot wind, but wind strength increased as the afternoon progressed presenting conditions not faced in Hong Kong for some months.
“I wouldn’t exactly say we enjoyed the race,” Geoff Tayler owner/skipper of Paloma told The Epoch Times about the day’s first race.
“Even reefed and flying our new working jib we were really struggling for control.
“We were short handed and the crew were unable to trim the sails properly given the load on them. That meant that on the upwind legs we were over powered and the sails were luffing the entire time. I felt sure we were going to damage something.
Paloma, who competes in the HKPN classification, completed the first race—as did all other HKPN boats—but Paloma, X-terminator and Tara did not start the second.
In Race-7, HKPN’s Kyte veered right sharply when travelling close to Eclipse, which nearly ended in a collision, but Eclipse just took avoiding action in time. Eclipse only had three crew members, which made sailing difficult in the testing conditions.
Meanwhile, several top IRC boats—notably Mojito, RB and Stella—retired during the first race and others did not start the second.
RB and Stella had rigging damage and pulled out during the first race.
Series leader Mojito had the misfortune to hit a quick change in wind conditions, which injured one of the crew and decided to retire in the first race.
Pulling out a good call
Paloma, a new boat to racing, is doing remarkably well in the series. After finishing fourth in the first race, was pulled out of the second as a precaution. Owner/skipper Geoff Tayler discussed the gusty day further.
“Our lack of experience in such conditions revealed itself in a wrenched shoulder, a narrow escape when the boom nearly took a crew members head off during a jibe and a whole set of cuts, bruises and rope burns.
He decided not to compete in Race-8.
“We had already taken more time to get round the course than on any previous race and given the fact that the wind seemed to be gaining strength even more, I decided discretion was the better part of valour.”
Comparing notes with other skippers afterwards, Tayler concluded that his “discretion” to pull out of the day’s second race was also wise.
“We were one of the few boats that escaped without damage or serious injury, so I think I made a good call.
“The result was surprisingly good all the same and it was worth a discard to keep the boat fit for the next race.
“We still look in good shape for the series if we don’t have another day like Saturday,” said Tayler.
“Both our start and finish were by far the best yet and I’m proud that we simply survived Saturday.
“Myself and the crew need much more experience in tougher conditions before we choose to race again in gusts of 30 knots.
“In fact, prior to the first race I nearly decided to pull out, but was lulled into a false sense of security by a slight drop in wind strength. Had I known it was going to increase again I would have forfeited the day.”
In overall series terms Dea II—that came in sixth and fifth, respectively, in these races is still leading, followed by Kyte, Bits & Pieces and Paloma.
Lighthorse took line honours in both races, but was beaten by Vixen on calculated time in the first race.
Meanwhile, Stingray came in third in each race.
Bits and Pieces took line honours in Race-7, but in Race-8 she was judged to have crossed the start line before the gun. As she did not take corrective action she was therefore deemed OCS (On Course Side) and disqualified from that race.
X-terminator took first in Race-7 on calculated time (her first win of the series), but did not start Race-8.
Kyte recovered from the incident with Eclipse in the first race to take line honours in the second, but was pipped by three seconds on calculated time by Eclipse.
Race Day 5 of the Hebe Haven Spring Saturday Series is scheduled for Saturday April 20.