On an unseasonably chilly but windy January weekend, boats from Hong Kong’s two Formula 18 fleets sailed from their respective beaches and met half way to stage the very first Class Championships of the HK F18 Association. Each fleet travelled up to 10 miles to meet up in the waters to the south of Lamma, Hong Kong’s prime racing area.
The Championships consisted of 6 races held over a single weekend, with racing on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. Winds were steady northerlies, ranging from 12 to 20 knots throughout the weekend. A total of ten boats entered, although, put off by the cold weather, two of them decided to stay tucked up on their home beach.
The idea was to run a dedicated F18 regatta, based on windward leewards on a long course with a gate option at the bottom mark. Race Officer Brenda Davies and her volunteer helpers did an excellent job of setting courses throughout the weekend and ran a faultless committee boat operation.
The Saturday saw JC Broyelle, sailing his Hobie Tiger with crew Doris Hung, grab control of the event with bullets in the first two races. Local Hobie dealer Tong Shing, sailing with small boat expert Andy Service, grabbed the third race. But the bigger story was the lack of results from the Lantau contingent, with Nacra dealer Steve Wallace, paired with Chris Steilberg, breaking his pole on the way over, favourites Fung Tat Choi and Jo Shieh breaking a trapeze in race one and the young Shue twins capsizing at almost every top mark rounding.
Six boats were glad to make it back to the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s new hardstanding at Middle Island where warm showers awaited them. They were joined just at dusk by the Nacra Infusion, which had made it back from Lantau after fitting a new prodder. After some warming Hoi Loongs to kick off with, the racers soon got to work refueling themselves around the BBQ and settling in for the evening.
Sunday morning dawned with temperatures down to 8 degrees, which might as well be minus 15 as far as HK sailors go. The racers were understandably reluctant to get moving, but did eventually manage to venture back out to the race track, although not before Andy Service had demonstrated his mast climbing skills.
They must have been listening to the wise tips being passed out by their elders, as Youth Worlds hopefuls Jonathan and Kenton Shue ran away with the first race by a sizable margin. That they were sailing on a borrowed old Nacra F18 with the “smaller” rig, demonstrates the longevity of the F18 designs and their ability to give a fair chance to sailors of differing weight ranges.
Buoyed by their success in race 4, the brothers encouraged most of the fleet into a big OCS start, so much so that Race Officer Brenda Davies had to put up the General Recall flag, much to the chagrin of her husband Peter who’d legitimately gotten away to a flier. But fortune was shining on Tong Shing, who capsized at the start after a pushy Mike Scantlebury had hooked his prodder around his old friend’s mainsheet. The ensuing carnage was captured frame by frame from the pin end mark boat and can be seen on the regatta’s facebook site.
The restart saw the Davies/Verhegge pairing continue their newly found good form to round the top mark in first place only to see their tiller extension fall apart on the way back down. The damage continued with Broyelle’s spi halyard block falling down and Tong Shing shredding his kite after the halyard jammed.
With several boats retired, the regatta result was still open. JC Broyelle continued to sail without a spinnaker and managed to get the results he needed to win the Championships by one point. And deservedly so, as he was one of the few who completed all six races. Second was Tong Shing, tied on points with Scantlebury, but ahead on countback.
With racing completed in good time, the two fleets split and began the long journey home to their beaches. Everybody made it back safely, showing what is possible to do in a weekend in Hong Kong if your boats are fast enough.
Thanks are due to many of the clubs in Hong Kong for enabling the fledgling Class to hold its first Championships. The Hong Kong Hobie Club and the Lantau Boat Club supported the delivery trips as well as providing mark/safety boats. The Aberdeen Boat Club lent their committee boat and the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club allowed us to overnight on their vast new hardstanding. Finally Neil Pryde kindly pitched in with some extra prizes to augment the perpetual trophy, all of which were given out at the Monday night prizegiving staged in the Dublin Jack’s pub.
The results are at: http://web.me.com/brendadavies/HKF18/Results.html