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Magic start to Rolex China Sea Race 2024

A lovely 10 to 12kts north easterly breeze made for an exciting start to the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s Rolex China Sea Race 2024.  All 21 boats got off to a clean start today at 1120hrs in the stunning Hong Kong Victoria Harbour.

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.

Three of the top contenders in IRC Racer 0 Class, R/P 75 Standard Insurance Centennial V, along with two TP52s; Happy Go and Standard Insurance Centennial III were in a close tussle at the start line but it was Nie Hua’s Happy Go which hit the line first at full pace at the sound of the horn.  She led the fleet up to Kai Tak from where larger rival Standard Insurance Centennial V overtook her.

First through the Lei Yue Mun Gap (the narrowest part between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon) was R/P 75 Standard Insurance Centennial V, helmed by two-time China Sea Race Overall winner Ernesto Echauz. They were followed shortly after by TP52s Happy Go and Standard Insurance Centennial III.

After the fleet passed the sheltered harbour, they were greeted by big swells of up to 2.5m.  Soon Zoe was the first retirement of the Race.

Of the six international entries, two Filipino boats are in the leading pack.  Mainland of China entries, Seawolf and Tong Ran, are looking good in the early stages and the same goes for the first-ever Chinese Taipei entry, Mondher Latiri’s Gusty and the first-ever Korean entry, Hojun Song’s Random().

As of 1600hrs, Happy Go is at the front of the fleet travelling along at around 8.6kts, followed by the two Standard Insurance team boats, Centennial V and Centennial III.

As the competitors make their 565nm journey across the South China Sea to Subic Bay, they will enjoy the first night reaching down towards the Philippines.  A southerly airstream is forecast to fill in by Thursday so the fleet will be beating upwind towards the Philippines.


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