Racing Among Cargo Boats

By Bill Cox, Epoch Times
September 12, 2012 Updated: September 12, 2012
The big cat ... 75ft 'Jelic', owned by Mr Frank Pong, sets off in Race 2 of the three-race series of the RHKYC's Autumn Regatta in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour on Sunday Sept 9. She took line honours in each of the Big Boat Division 1 IRC races. (Bill Cox/Epoch Times Staff)

A total of 104 boats took part in the RHKYC Autumn Regatta on Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, the first event of the 2012-13 yachting season. The regatta comprised three races for each of the 11 boat classes, one race on Saturday Sept 8 and two on Sunday Sept. 9.

Stormy Saturday

The weather was not kind for Saturday’s race. Although the morning looked very promising, at the start of the race there was a huge thunderstorm that persisted in staying over the venue. When that cleared, the wind dropped and boats found it very difficult to move. Not only that, at the eastern mark at Shau Kei Wan, the current was against the boats, making it difficult to get round the mark.

Such were the conditions that none of the Big Boat Div 3 boats finished the race, only three Sportsboats recorded scores, six of the Etchells could not finish the course and all but one of the Pandora’s struggled.

The Ruffian and Dragons on a different course all made the finish.

Even boats that finished found that there were other pitfalls lying in wait, mainly from protests from other boats for encroaching into “no-go” areas. Steve Bourne of Merlin explained the difficulties boats faced.

“Victoria Harbour is like a checkerboard and unless you are very experienced of the venue and regulations, there are likely to be protests against you by other boats,” Bourne told “The Epoch Times.”

Ricochet’s owner, Julie Mackenzie, was very surprised to be disqualified for encroaching into a no-go area.

“We were very careful in our positioning,” she explained to “The Epoch Times,” “but there was still a protest so we withdrew,” she added.

Sunny Sunday

Conversely, Sunday’s weather for Races 2 and 3 was almost perfect. Lovely sunny weather with a nice breeze and everybody enjoyed themselves immensely, although the weather was a bit hot for some of the competitors and dog mascots had to stay on dry land.

Life on the small media boat was perfect allowing good positioning for those who like photography and a wonderful view of the race. It was also interesting to see racing yachts dodging the ferries and cargo carriers. At one point a huge container ship ploughed eastwards sounding a very large horn.

Division winners

The big cat, 75ft 'Jelic'. (Bill Cox/Epoch Times Staff)

With 11 divisions in the regatta, there are too many place-getters to mention, but following are some notable results.

In Big Boats Div 1, it was Electra, Ambush and Wicked that headed the standings on corrected time.

It was a pleasure to see Jelik, owned by Frank Pong, competing in this division. She looked a real picture cutting through the water in majestic style. After the race, Mr Frank Pong talked about Jelik, the largest boat in the regatta.

“It is a 75-footer. It used to be owned by Mr Roy Disney, he had a lot of fun with it and he sold it to me in 2003,” Mr Pong told “The Epoch Times.” “Originally designed by the San Diego firm Reichel/Pugh, it was built in Rhode Island on the East Coast, very well finished and it is a very good boat.

“Yes, we were first over the line [in these three races], but as a big boat you aught to be, you know. But I think Electra won on corrected time,” he said.

“It is possible for big boats with high handicaps to win short races. Last week in Aberdeen we were first overall and it was only a short race of one hour or so,” he added.

Their next event will be the Port Shelter Regatta at Hebe Haven Yacht Club (HHYC) in two weeks’ time.

“We did not do the [HHYC] Typhoon [Series] because we were working on the boat,” Mr Pong said.

We did not manage to talk with Mr Sam Chan, the owner of FreeFire, but he told The Epoch Times a few weeks ago that he would be pleased to get some better competition. FreeFire must have had some technical problem as she was well up with Jelik early on in the third race, but then dropped back.

In Big Boat Div 2, Whiskey Jack romped home as winners recording two firsts and a second place. Gambit and Rampage were placed second and third, respectively.

Red Kite II was adjudged not to have started race one and, therefore, recorded a score of 13, and although she finished first and second in the Sunday races, it pushed her down to fourth place overall.

Big Boats Div 3 (HKPN) was won by GA followed by No One Else and Happy Hour.

I must say that Happy Hour does look a very jovial boat with its light blue color and interesting letters for the name.

As usual, the Sportsboats’ category was dominated by Merlin, Sidewinder, and R2B2, with Catch 22, Black Magic all playing their part. Good Vibrations and Blue Moon also did well in Saturday’s race.

Steve Bourne of Merlin described parts of the race that were instrumental in the final placing.

“Gareth Williams [Sidewinder] did brilliantly because he was the only one that read the course properly for Race 1,” Bourne told “The Epoch Times.” “In the second race, R2B2 won and Gareth should have been second, but he got caught under the lea of an Etchells and Dion [Houghton of R2B2] just sneaked ahead of him. In the third race, we were really lucky and managed to sneak through. Mark Phillips [Catch 22] came second, which was quite good as he had been disqualified the day before.”

Taxi won the Impala class ahead of Paddy B and Gnu, with Impala 1 coming in fourth.

It looks like the J80’s don’t travel to other venues, as the usual names that we are familiar with did not take part. Footloose, Jasmine, and Jelignite topped the standings.

The place-getters in the remaining four classes for Etchells, Flying Fifteen, Pandora, and Ruffian can be seen in the table.