1962 – Five boats, including one from Japan and one from the Philippines set out on the first China Sea Race with one radio amongst them. Escorted for the first 100nm by the Hong Kong Royal Naval Reserve, the boats took over six days to reach Corregidor, outside Manila Bay where they were met by the Philippine Navy. Chris von Sydow took line honours in 107h 29m 57s and engraved Reverie’s name on both the Sunday Telegraph Trophy for Line Honours and the China Sea Race Trophy.
1964 – 12 entries received for the second race.
1966 – 13 entries including the famous ketch, Stormvogel, which finished 26 hours ahead of its nearest rival for Line Honours, but only placed fifth on handicap. Japanese yacht Fuji completed her 1,500 mile maiden voyage from Tokyo during the pre-race dinner on Thursday 31st March, to receive a standing ovation. Unfortunately, in their hurry to prepare for the race, the crew forgot to take on any water and subsequently were forced to abandon the race in a state of exhaustion.
1968 – 17 entries received for the race, which was included as an event in the inaugural World Ocean Racing Championships, which were to run for three years.
1970 – Japanese entry Chita III carries off the silverware and breaks Reverie’s race record by over 2.5 hours.
Reverie Overall Winner of the first China Sea Race
1972 – Race officially recognized by the Royal Ocean Racing Club and run under IOR ratings (International Offshore Rule) for the first time. China Sea Race is incorporated in the inaugural China Sea Race Series, which includes inshore regattas in Hong Kong and Manila.
1974 – Mamamouchi takes line honours for the second consecutive time, in a light wind race, punctuated with thundery squalls and 30kt gusts which resulted in many shredded spinnakers.
1976 – 450 guests attend the China Sea Race Ball, where the guests of honour were the Governor, Sir Murray MacLehose and Lady MacLehose. The main concern on the night was Typhoon Marie, heading straight for Manila and the South China Sea, resulting in the delay of the start by one day. 32 entries received from five countries, including the 73 foot Australian yacht Ballyhoo, which was too large to moor in the typhoon shelter and had to be accommodated in the Naval Basin at HMS Tamar.
1978 – Wash up notes suggest that all boats should carry SSB radio, that sea-worthiness trials should be carried out before each race and that results might be computerized in order to have them posted earlier. Uin-na-Mara III puts her name on the China Sea Race Trophy, finishing in 15 to 18kts and reporting the race highlight to be “a large (30-40ft) whale doing back-flips and other gymnastics about ¾ mile from us, over a ten-minute period”.
1980 – RHKYC celebrates the 10th China Sea Race by adding an intermediate offshore race around Pedro Blanco to the China Sea Race Series, however didn’t anticipate the finish team getting stranded on Waglan Island in a strong monsoon – the three volunteers were airlifted off after 36 hours.
1982 – Ji Fung is the largest ever boat to enter, while Mamamouchi lifts the Sunday Telegraph Trophy for the third time – the only boat to do so in the fifty year history of the China Sea Race.
1984 – An all-female Crew on Lady Fling is one of a record entry list, however, the silverware is lifted by Nirvana (Sunday Telegraph Trophy) and Tsunami (China Sea Race Trophy). Lufthansa becomes RHKYC’s first commercial sponsor.
1986 – Sidewinder takes Line Honours as Frank Pong gets his name on the China Sea Race Trophy for the first time with (the original!) Maiden Hong Kong. Onboard catering included pressed duck and caviar, with Marauder taking Bela Vista’s manager as the chef, in spite of his being in a body cast. Silk Cut sponsors for the first time, contributing the perpetual trophies which are still awarded today.
1988 – Neil Pryde etches his name on the China Sea Race Trophy for the first time with Sunstreaker, taking first place in IOR on handicap. Huge storm hits the fleet on the fourth night of the race with winds of up to 70kts, dismasting the 51’ Foo 2.
1990 – 50 footers Cyclone and Foo 2 match race in Victoria Harbour the day before the race start. Out of a list of 64 starters, Corum II lifts both the Sunday Telegraph Trophy and the China Sea Race Trophy, winning the IOR Division in the process, while Island Fling takes CHS Division on Handicap. Race quote from Cyclone? “Lost – 200nm on port tack….”
1992 – First Russian entry received and an IMS division introduced. The last China Sea Race Series prior to the inauguration of China Coast Race Week in 1993 suffered a light wind offshore race, with X-Rated claiming line honours in a ‘record’ 123h 23m 17s.
1994 – China Sea Race takes place, followed by an inshore regatta organised by Manila Yacht Club and held in Manila Bay, which was to become the President’s Cup.
1996 – In the first race to finish in Subic Bay, Karl Kwok does the double on Beau Geste, setting a new race record of 75h 53m 56s in the process. In 15kts on the first night, Bugis loses her mast before the first windward mark, Fast Company drops her rig after a broach and Boogie Flash breaks her boom.
1998 – In the year that the new Subic Bay Yacht Club opened its doors, Ffree Fire takes line honours in one of the slowest races on record, while Subic Centennial takes the title on corrected time.
2000 – In the first RORC race of the new millennium, Karl Kwok smashes the record on Beau Geste in 47h 43m 07s, breaking his own record of 75h 53m 56s and nearly 60 hours faster than Reverie’s 1962 benchmark. This remains the record to beat.
2002 – Jelik claims line honours in just over 92 hours with only 17 of 29 entrants finishing the race due to light wind conditions. To the delight of Roly Schmitt, Red Baron lifts the China Sea Race Trophy twenty years after her first win.
2004 – As the China Sea Race becomes a constituent event of the newly formed ‘Asian Yachting Circuit’, a rough first night claims Philippine entry Karakoa with a leaking rudder bearing.
2006 – Race tracking is introduced for the first time in the shape of Inmarsat D+ units sponsored by SkyWave and Purplefinder, allowing friends and family at home to follow the boats on an hourly update. Boracay, helmed by Peter Morton, narrowly beats Jelik on the water after the two RP72’s shadow each other for over 65 hours.
2008 – Rolex adds the China Sea Race to its portfolio of classic offshore races. TP52 Strewth loses her keel on the first night out, but with Cloud retiring to act as chaperone, makes it safely back to Hong Kong. Subic Centennial lifts the China Sea Race Trophy ten years after her first win, while Hi Fi takes line honours.
2010 – Neil Pryde takes the double with Hi Fi, taking line honours for the second time in succession and gets his name on the China Sea Race Trophy again after a 22 year wait.
2012 – Celebrating 50 years since the first race, the Rolex China Sea Race is now a fully fledged Category 1 Offshore Race, pre-race training is intense and all boats will be fitted with Yellowbrick trackers so that the race can be followed online.
2014 – Youngest competitors are Aymeric Gillard and Wilhelm Christensson at 17 years of age, while the oldest is Syd Fischer at 87. Veteran Neil Pryde (a relative spring chicken at 74) makes history by becoming the only skipper to have his name engraved on the China Sea Race Trophy three times.
2016 - Philip Turner and Duncan Hine's Reichel / Pugh 66 Alive breaks Karl Kwok's Whitbread 60 Beau Geste's 16-year-old record by 11m 59s with the new record standing at 47h 31m 08s. The overall winner is Anthony Root's and Steve Manning's Ker 42 Black Baza.
2018 - Karl Kwok returns with his 70 MOD Beau Geste, making history, taking Line Honours and breaking the race record for the third time with an elapsed time of 38h 30m 07s. Longtime race competitors Fred Kinmonth and Nick Burns, take the overall win on their GTS 43 Mandrake III. This is their second overall win the first being in 2006 on their Farr-Mills 51 Mandrake. Celebrating his 25th birthday on the eve of the Race, Kingsman's Gordon Liu becomes one of the youngest skippers to race in the Rolex China Sea Race.