By AY MultiMedia 07th April 2018, Subic Bay, Philippines: The IRC 1 skippers arrived at the final day full of anticipation, with only a couple of points separating the podium places. Eager to get going, they came in early and crowded the extremely bias boat end, until they overflowed onto the course side of the start line. As the horn sounded Nick Burns/Fred Kinmonth’s GTS 43 Mandrake III and YY Yan/YF Liu's Ker 42 Custom Seawolf were recalled and took a few minutes to clear the pack and return to start again. In most cases this would have sounded the death knell, but when the spinnakers went up at the top mark, Mandrake III had recovered and led the way around the course. As they circulated it was hard to judge if they were far enough in front, to secure the handicap win and the series.
Once again the North Easterly did not disappoint the sailors, with 12 to 14 knots at start time, then fading a bit and returning in the gusts. The yachts that stayed in the gust lines, made the most of it and invariably led their class around the course. Two windward/leeward courses for the IRC & FarEast 28 classes and one passage race for the Cruising Class to conclude the series.
As it turned out Mandrake III did have enough time on the rest of the IRC 1 class and won the first race of the day. The replacement race officer Bonnie from Hong Kong honourably came forward that she inadvertently called Seawolf over the line early, and the International Jury awarded them joint 2nd place with David Ho's Mills 40 Phoenix (formerly Mandrake II) and Martin Tanco's Sydney 46 Centennial II slipped to 4th place. Although the title was already in the bag, Mandrake III continued on with Race 6 of the regatta and another polished crew performance yielded another race win and overall victory. After an up and down regatta YY Yan/YF Liu's Ker 42 Seawolf claimed line honours on the last race and corrected into 2nd place, the best since the first race, but could only manage 4th overall. With the adjusted fifth race result, Centennial II and Phoenix ended up tied on 12 points but broken in favour of Centennial II to slot into 2nd overall by having better results and leaving Phoenix to mull over 3rd overall.
Although Emerson Villena and the Standard Insurance - PSA crew, were recalled at the start of the first race, they put the foot down and reclaimed the lead on the downwind, to secure their 6th win and add another FarEast 28 one-design class title to their name. Their arch rivals, Ridgely Balladares Standard Insurance - PSA1 slotted into 2nd place and by winning the second race ended up in 2nd overall. Sean Mitchell's Subic Sailing Team 3, 2 score line gives them 3rd overall and happy with the improved performance. Yukie Ikawa's Japanese Turquoise Sailing Team string of 4th places holds onto 4th overall. John Jensen on Team Spirit and China's Jonny Wen's Across Four Ocean Sailing Club finished 5th and 6th respectively, have improved with every race and cherish the opportunity to compete again.
Big effort on George Hackett's J35 Jo De Ros produced another win and triumph in the IRC 2 class. They did not even have to race on the last race and went home to celebrate. As the weather window opened, for Gordon Liu/Cowen Chiu's Sydney 38 Kingsman to return to Hong Kong, they gracefully bowed out of racing today and left the door open for Jun Avecilla's Beneteau First 36.7 Selma Star to circulate alone. These circumstances elevate Selma Star to 2nd overall and Kingsman reduced to 3rd.
Four wins in a row for Li Jian's Advance 80 Apsaras and victory in the Cruising Class, gives them enough confidence to tackle the Sydney Hobart Race latter this year. In Philippe Grelon's Pogo 10.5 TBS Aya absence, Peter Sharman's Beneteau First 31.7 Selma scored 2nd place today and take back 2nd overall from TBS Aya in the process. Garry Kingshott's fully equipped Fusion 40 Kerida, with washing machine, air con and coffee machine, suffers in the light airs but is very happy to spend the day out on the water and thoroughly enjoys the onshore banter at the parties, regardless of the outcome.
Summary A welcome return of the Hong Kong yachts, after the China Sea Race has boosted the fleet and judging by the fun they are having, hopefully this trend will continue. The success of the FarEast 28 one-design class, has also encouraged Standard Insurance to purchase some more and revived keelboat sailing interest by youngsters that can't afford to buy and campaign yachts at this level. The organisers must be congratulated for making a Sailing Festival out of the regatta and encouraging the general public to get involved and give them a rare opportunity to get out on the water.
With the SEA Games just around the corner next year, there is a lot to be done on the sailing side, race management, onshore facilities etc, etc. Subic Bay is the ideal place to hold the competition and a word of warning to other competing nations - better bring your best sailors, as the Philippine sailors are ready to take you on, in their home waters.