Updated: Mar 1, 2019
23:02:2019 Subic Bay, Philippines: Despite the breeze changing from East to North East during the pre-start, it stayed consistent at 10 to 15 knots and after a clear start was called by PRO Louise Davis, the nine boat fleet set off under colourful spinnakers, down Subic Bay towards the entrance. In the middle of the line, Ernesto Echauz's TP 52 Standard Insurance Centennial III hit the line with speed and was closely followed by George Hackett's Mills 43 custom Misty Mountain, at the committee boat end. Check out the start action in the AY Photo Gallery
By the time they reached the entrance, Standard Insurance Centennial III had established a commanding lead, but had to overcome the first obstacle, the incoming sea breeze. An early gybe to the right hand side by Geoff Hill's Smith 72 Antipodes, bought them in on a favourable angle and the battle for line honours began in earnest.
An unprecedented 8 knot Westerly, generated from a fickle high pressure to the South West of Luzon, is predicted to last throughout the night and produce slow reaching conditions down the coast but fading away in the Verde Passage. By morning a strong Westerly flow over China, is expected to turn into a North Westerly over the Philippines, and produce close hauled conditions, on the way back.
At the briefing last night and under pressure to return to Boracay next year, Ernesto Echauz explained "That this race is very tactical and challenging for the navigators, tacticians and especially on crew work and should be respected for it."
As they are on the way down the Luzon coast, the fleet is expecting some more obstacles, like clawing their way through the wind shadow of Mindoro plus contending with some strong tidal currents and light wind in the Verde Island Passage, on both the outward and return legs.