Hong Kong International Match Racing Regatta organised by the Royal Hong Yacht Club was held last weekend (April 18-19) in Victoria Harbour with 8-teams competing.
Five of the team Captains hold International Rankings: Maximillian Soh of Singapore (16), Jeremy Koo of Malaysia (28), Morten Jakobsen of Thailand (151), Peter Backe of Hong Kong (473) and Yat Fung Law, also of Hong Kong (1396). Two of the other three competitors are highly respected Hong Kong Sailors—Guy Brearey and Isamu Kendal Sakai—and the other entrant was Weilong Huang from China.
Six boat owners made their J80 crafts available for the event.
Match Racing regattas are rather special events as the competitors race head to head in pairs. With six boats available 3-matches per Flight were organised. With a round robin schedule of 10 flights competitors compete once against each of the other seven, scoring 1 for a win and 0 for a loss. Following the round robin matches the top four are paired to compete in best of 3 semi-finals, with the losers racing (best of 3) for 3rd/4th places while the winners race for Championship.
Match Racing is also rather special as the two teams that are about to race have 5-minutes before the start when they can search out the other teams capabilities, and weaknesses in a little show of weaving and fighting. Leading competitors are particularly skilled at these tactics allowing them to gain an advantageous position (and lead) from the start hooter. During this period competitors also try to get the other boat to make an error and if a protest is upheld the offending boat will have to make a 360 degrees turn at some time during the race.
Day-1 was a day of round robin races and although wind conditions were changeable in direction and in strength there was quite good progress from the 10am start up to lunch time. But then the wind died and Race Officer, Inge Strompf-Jepsen made the decision to move the race position from the centre of Kowloon Bay to a location close to Kwun Tong waterfront. Some good racing took place during the afternoon, but because of the disruption two round robin Flights (9 and 10) had to be left until the Sunday (Day-2).
After completing the round robin on Sunday morning, the top 4 competitors – Soh (7-points), Koo (5), Backe (5) and Brearey (4) were then involved in best of 3-Semi-final playoffs.
For this, the leader after the round robin races is allowed to decide which of the other three semi-finalist he will race, and the other two also compete for a place in the final. Winner Soh chose to race unranked Brearey, leaving the second and fourth ranked Captains Koo and Backe as the other semi-final pairing.
Soh beat Brearey in the first two races and Koo beat Backe in similar fashion, leaving Backe and Brearey to fight for 3rd and 4th places while top seeds Sok and Koo were matched for the regatta title.
In the Petit Final (for 3rd and 4th positions) Brearey beat Backe 2-0 to take 3rd place and Soh beat Koo in similar fashion to take the Regatta title. Guy Brearey, however did particularly well to claim 3rd ahead of Peter Backe, which no doubt will give him a boost in ranking.