on 5 Apr 2023
Light winds make for a tricky start to the 2023 Rolex China Sea Race
The Rolex China Sea Race 2023, the first offshore race in Hong Kong since 2019, got underway on April 5 at 11:20am in misty weather and a southerly breeze of around 3 to 5kts.
The fleet gathered before the start at RHKYC’s Kellett Island Clubhouse for a lion dance to wish the competitors a safe journey across the ever-challenging South China Sea. The Honourable Mr Michael Wong, GBS, JP, Deputy Financial Secretary, Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club Commodore Lucy Sutro and Rolex China Sea Race 2023 Race Chairman Cameron Ferguson were invited to officiate the eye dotting ceremony.
The start line was in front of the Clubhouse, with Hong Kong’s iconic skyline providing the perfect backdrop for the start of this flagship offshore race. Individual recalls were signaled for Hurricane Hunter and Tong Ran. With SHK Scallywag Fuku withdrawing at the last minute due to engine failure, 18 boats were at the start, with 14 teams from Hong Kong, three from the Philippines and one from Mainland China.
The fleet headed east towards Lei Yue Mun Gap and ghosted its way through the wind hole at North Point as the southerly breeze was blocked by Hong Kong Island.
Read: Four international entries in 2023 Rolex China Sea Race
First through the Lei Yue Mun Gap (the smallest distance between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon) was R/P 75 Standard Insurance Centennial 5, helmed by two-time China Sea Race Overall winner Ernesto Echauz. They were followed shortly after by two TP52s, Rampage 88 and Standard Insurance Centennial 3. After the Gap, the fleet was finally greeted with some fresh breeze and the third TP52 in the fleet, Happy Go, caught up quickly after a slow start.
As of 5:30pm of April 5, Standard Insurance Centennial 5 was at the front of the fleet with a speed of around 8.8kts.
As the competitors make their 565nm journey across the South China Sea to Subic Bay, they will be heading south slowly upwind on the first day. A northeast breeze is forecast to fill in by Thursday; hopefully resulting in some Champagne sailing as the fleet make its way towards the Philippines.
Fans can track the action at Yellowbrick Tracking: https://yb.tl/rolexchinasea2023