International fleet set for the 2023 Rolex China Sea Race
A strong fleet boasting multiple international and previous winners, is preparing to take on the 2023 Rolex China Sea Race.
Four entrants are travelling to Hong Kong, with three from the Philippines (Standard Insurance Centennial 3, Standard Insurance Centennial 5 and Hurricane Hunter) and one from Mainland China (Tong Ran).
Philippines entry, Ernesto Echauz’s Rachel Pugh 75 Standard Insurance Centennial 5, will be taking part in the boat’s first Rolex China Sea Race, however Ernesto Echauz is no stranger to this flagship offshore race, having participated in nine editions of the race and having his name twice engraved on the China Sea Race Trophy (1998 and 2008). This all-Filipino team is composed of current and former Philippines National Sailing Team athletes and many from the Philippine Navy including women laser sailors Alaisa Belmonte and Paula Bombeo. Ernesto Echauz is the founder of Centennial Sailing Team and claims a second entry under his team in TP52 Standard Insurance Centennial 3, which will be helmed by Emerson Villena – who is returning for his fifth edition of the Rolex China Sea Race. Villena looks to improve upon his team’s best previous result of 3rd IRC Overall in 2018.
Albert Altura will be taking part in his second China Sea Race. His first entry was as a 19-year-old in 1986 racing on Sunset Strip which placed 4th Overall in the IOR division and already back then he set a personal goal to return to the event as owner/skipper. Albert Altura’s Beneteau First 40 CR Hurricane Hunter competed in the50th Anniversary of Rolex Middle Sea Race in 2018 before Covid hit and, once sailing resumed in the Philippines, competed in the 135nm race Nasugbu to Busuanga Race in March 2022.
Dufour 500’s Tong Ran from Guangzhou Nansha Sailing Club, is returning for their second Rolex China Sea Race. Despite their racing schedule having been disrupted by Covid, Tong Ran had been actively participating in long distance races, taking IRC 1st overall in 2020 China Super Yacht Race, the only World Sailing Cat 1 Offshore Race organised in Mainland China, with several crew members also having participated in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and Clipper Round the World Race. Jiaqi Wu, owner of Tong Ran said “Finally, no more quarantine in China, we feel great to come to Hong Kong and enjoy the world's premier offshore sailing race”
Also joining the impressive line of yachts partaking in this year's event will be Meitatsu Fukumoto and Seng Huang Lee’s SHK Scallywag Fuku. Sailing under the Hong Kong flag she is set to join her first edition of the Rolex China Sea Race. The ORMA 60 trimaran broke the multihull record in their first attempt of the 2019 edition of the Club’s offshore race from Hong Kong to Vietnam, and the team will attempt to challenge the Rolex China Sea Race multihull record, which was set by Karl Kwok on his MOD Beau Geste with an elapsed time of 38h 30m 07s in 2018.