hands on deck for the 2017-18 AYGP
First up, is the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club's major big boat event of the season, the Volvo China Coast Regatta, followed by the biennial 656nm Category 1 Volvo Hong Kong to Vietnam Race blue water classic. Over 3 days, 32 entries across six classes will go under starters orders. Defending IRC 0 champion Marcel Liedts Ker 46 Zannekin will be tackling Shawn Kang's latest Ker 46+ Lighthorse Alpha Plus and is expected to be a ding dong encounter. The formidable lineup includes Frank Pong's evergreen Custom Dibley 75 Jelik, two TP52's, Sam Chan's FreeFire and Ernesto Echauz's well traveled Standard Insurance Centennial from the Philippines to contend with. After a solid 3rd overall on the Sydney Hobart Race last year, Wang Bin's Cookson 50 UBox are making their debut on the AYGP and warming up for the long distance Vietnam Race, that suits their style of racing.
The IRC 1 Class is affectionately known as the 'Flying 40's' will produce some close quarter racing and with several yachts changing hands, the owners will be trying to live up to the boats reputation. Liu Yong Feng's Ker 42 Custom Seawolf (Ex Black Baza) faces some stiff opposition in the form of defending champion Fred Kinmonth/Nick Burns GTS 43 Otonomos Mandrake III and Joachim Isler/Drew Taylor's new Mills 41 Ambush. Tiffany Koo returns with the King Mills 40 Hero Racing Team (Ex Foxy Lady 2013-14 & 2014-15 AYGP Champion) taking on Helmuth Hennig's Marten 49 Vineta topping the class scales, Noel Chan / Dennis Ma's HH42 Rampage II, Victor Kuk's Mills 40 Custom Phoenix, down to Nigel Snell's Ker 11.3 Minnie are all eager to make an impression and take home some silverware.
Duel AYGP Skipper of the Year title holder, Steve Manning has traded Black Bazza for the A40 Red Rum (Ex Seawolf) and despite going down to the IRC 2 Class, will have to be on top of his game, as there are some serious contenders for the title. Anything from Glenn Smith's Grand Soleil 45 Blackjack, Simon Powell's A40RC Sell Side Dream, Richard Van Den Berg's J111 Juggerknot, Gordon Liu's Sydney 38 Kingsman and Chris Li's FT10 Kiasu are capable of challenging in the handicap stakes.
The biennial Volvo Hong Kong to Vietnam Race is the longest race on the Asian Calendar and a different challenge altogether, that requires offshore racing abilities. Competitors usually experience lengthy downwind reaching conditions, with large rolling seas to propel them on their way, as they sail deeper into the South China Sea. Commonly known as a "downhill sleigh ride" in 2015 Syd Fischer's team Ragamuffin 100, set the new record at 42h 17m 24s, bettering their previous record on Ragamuffin 90 by 23 minutes and 56 seconds.
After an express delivery from Australia to Hong Kong, Phillip Turner's Reichel/Pugh 66 Alive is back to defend the IRC 0 title and being one of the biggest boats this time, are expected to take line honours and if conditions are right, set a new record below the 40 hour benchmark, in the process. As the word gets out, this unique 656nm blue water classic, is fast becoming a 'must do event' and consequently has attracted some big names, to join local sailors that prefer this style of racing.
The Italians are coming on Matteo Savelli's Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino taking on China's Wang Bin's Cookson 50 UBOX, that was 3rd overall on the Sydney Hobart Race last year. Race regulars are Geoff Hill's Santa Cruz 72 Antipodes, Sam Chan's TP52 FreeFire, Fred Kinmonth/Nick Burns GTS 43 Otonomos Mandrake III and Jonathan Mahony's well traveled Humphreys 42 Zanzibar from Singapore. They are all in with a chance for the overall IRC title, if weather conditions are in their favour and can minimize equipment failure in the relentless conditions.
For the yachts and sailors staying back in Hong Kong and if they are up for some more exciting IRC and one design racing, the China Cup International Regatta fires up on October 26th - 29th. The biggest regatta in China, just got even bigger, with the inclusion of the World Match Racing Tour competing for the Overall 2017 Tour and Match Racing World Champion from Oct 24th - 29th. Expect a showdown of all proportions and can Ian Williams GAC Pindar, repeat the recent victory over current World Match Racing Tour Champion Phil Robertson Racing, with another tour de force shutout victory. More will be revealed on the China Cup in coming newsletters.
The AYGP is a unique point scoring system, that annually ranks all the big boat Skippers and Yachts that race in Eastern and South East Asian waters. To be fully representative of the regions sailing nations, regattas in Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Vietnam and China are point scoring events.
Ultimately the AYGP Skipper and Yacht of the Year will don the Trend Fashions navy blue blazer, presented with the Perpetual AYGP Cup filled with champagne and the hand crafted take home trophy at the gala Samui Regatta prize presentation party in May next year, is the highlight of the AYGP season.
View the AYGP promotion video by Marine Scene Asia
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