Rolex China Sea Race 2023 makes its return to Victoria Harbour on 5 April 2023
Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club today (3 April) announced the much-anticipated return of the Rolex China Sea Race to Hong Kong’s iconic Victoria Harbour after 5 years of absence. 19 boats will be on the start line at 11:20am on 5 April 2023 for the Rolex China Sea Race 2023 and the Race takes competitors 565-nautical miles (1,046 kilometers) across the South China Sea to Subic Bay in the Philippines, considered a real test of sailing skill, energy, persistence and team spirit.
First held in 1962, this year marks the 61st anniversary of this offshore classic, the oldest blue water race in Asia. The biennial China Sea Race has been supported by Rolex since 2008 when it became Title Sponsor. The 565nm Category 1 Offshore Race is run under the auspices of Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC). As a committed partner of the most prestigious yacht clubs, institutions and regattas in the world, Rolex shares the highest standards of excellence with the custodians of yachting’s finest spirit.
Sailors are drawn to the Race’s elevated standing as well as the stringent examination of skill and endeavor it presents, its underlying Corinthian spirit and traditions. Three TP52 grand prix racing yachts will be pushing the limits in what is expected to be close racing in this year’s Rolex China Sea Race. This highly competitive group features international entrant Standard Insurance Centennial 3 as well as local teams Rampage 88 and Happy Go. TP52 is famous for its fast speed and high performance. Former Hong Kong team sailors Owen WONG and LAW Yat Fung Dominic together with their former Hong Kong Team Sailing Coach Jono Rankine have regrouped as a ‘dream team’ for the first time since their last race at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games to be part of the crew on Happy Go. With good communications already in place between the core team for so many years, the team is confident to do well in the Race.
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). Ernesto Echauz is President of the Philippine Sailing Association and has been actively supporting sailing since 1994 with his Centennial Sailing Team and participated in numerous international offshore races. He said at the press conference that it was great to have the Rolex China Sea Race back after the pandemic. The Rolex China Sea Race is particularly important to sailors in the Philippines because this Race is on most of the sailors’ bucket list.
In terms of Multihull, Meitatsu Fukumoto and Seng Huang Lee’s ORMA 60 sailing trimarans SHK Scallywag Fuku is also set to join their first Rolex China Sea Race. Skipper David Witt, who is an internationally renowned offshore sailor, hope his team could beat the Rolex China Sea Race multihull race record of 38h 30m 07s set in 2018 by Karl Kwok on his MOD Beau Geste.
Albert Altura from Philippines will be taking part in his second Rolex China Sea Race on board his Beneteau First 40 CR Hurricane Hunter. His first took part in the Race as a 19-year-old in 1986 racing on Sunset Strip which placed 4th Overall in the IOR division and after that experience he set a personal goal to return to the event as owner/skipper. Altura said that he was given a Rolex Submariner purchased by his father when he turned 25 years old. Since then, this timepiece has been with him in all extreme adventures and throughout all his naval aviation career.
Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club Commodore Lucy Sutro mentioned in her welcome speech that for several decades Rolex has cultivated close associations with the best-known yacht clubs and organisers of major events in the world of sailing. “We are honoured that this Race was the first Asian sailing event sponsored by Rolex and proud that, with their support over the last 15 years, the Race continues to arouse attention within the international yachting fraternity.” she said.
Rolex China Sea Race 2023 Race Chairman Cameron Ferguson gave his thank you speech at the end, giving his heartfelt gratitude to Rolex for their ongoing support of this event and the other yacht races and regattas round the world. He added that “This year’s race preparation has been particularly challenging. The last race was run back in 2018 with Covid related issues preventing our return until this year. It has taken a huge effort by competitors to prepare the yachts and their crew to race again. But yacht owners and crew have risen to the challenge. Given the long lead times to prepare for such an event and with restrictions only recently being eased, we are delighted to have a wide-ranging list of Hong Kong participants and also entries from mainland China and overseas.”
There are two main prizes at the Rolex China Sea Race. The most coveted accolade is the Rolex China Sea Race Trophy for the overall winner under IRC time correction (handicap). The first boat to cross the finish line on real time (Line Honours) receives the Sunday Telegraph Trophy. A Rolex timepiece will be awarded to the first boat under IRC Overall handicap and first Monohull Line Honours.