VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race 2006

The Hong Kong to Vietnam Race Reports are prepared by Lindsay Lyons, the RHKYC's Sponsorship and Promotions Manager. Photos credits must go to the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Clubs very own Guy Nowell photograghy. Event website, www.hkvietnamrace.com

With thunder rumbling in the hills of Nha Trang, Benoit Lesaffre's multihull Atmosphere finished the 2006 VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race at around 1200hrs 27-Oct-06 (Hong Kong Time) to take line honours. A mere 36 minutes later, Paul Winkelmann's TP52 Island Fling showed its pedigree, taking IRC Division A on the water and on corrected time. Both times were considerably outside Skandia's 2004 record, mainly due to the local wind conditions off Nha Trang, which have been unusually soft for most of the race period.

With squally showers passing though all day, Hi Fi finally came into view around Hon Tre Island as the light died, recording a finish which placed the Grand Prix winning boat well down IRC A on corrected time. As if boats travel in pairs, no sooner was Hi Fi over the line, than Mandrake's lights were spotted. After a good race, the Kinmonth / Burns owned Farr-Mills 51 finished just 24 minutes after Neil Pryde on the water, beating him on corrected time but not doing enough to catch Island Fling.

The surprise of the race was Ant Day's Siren. Having turned down the opportunity to drop down to Div B the Sayer 13, at 41ft the smallest boat in IRC A, had a scorcher of a race to finish just 2 hours behind 51 ft Mandrake and 52 ft Hi Fi. Arriving to a round of applause from the Mandrake crew, Day was delighted to find that Siren had placed 2nd on corrected time.

During the dead of night, Ffree Fire 52 made it to Nha Trang safely, in spite of damage to her new mast. Polar Star III checked into the Hainan port of Sanya with a broken boom, and Quest reached the safety of Hong Kong. In the dawn light, HSBC Strewth finished at around 0645hrs HKT to be followed 25 minutes later by Drumstick and another hour later by Hocux Pocux 2.

Only Shahtoosh and Barnstormer are left to finish. With the breeze apparently giving both boats 14 knots boat speed, the former is expected at around 1100hrs HKT and the latter at 1600hrs HKT today, in plenty of time for the welcome parties tonight and prizegiving tomorrow.

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VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race 2006

All 13 competitors were on the line for the start of the 2006 VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race, which started on schedule at 1200hrs, watched by the race Sponsors and friends and family of the competitors. 12 to 14 knots of North Easterly breeze was unfortunately not enough to blow away the heavy pall of pollution hanging over Hong Kong at the time, but it did help the boats to the windward mark, then off downwind on the 656nm slide to Nha Trang in Vietnam.

Farr-Mills 51 Mandrake, owned by Fred Kinmonth and Nick Burns, probably claimed the best start, although no-one seemed in too much of a rush to get over the line. By the windward mark, Paul Winkelmann's TP52 Island Fling was heading the fleet, with Sam Chan's TP52 Free Fire 52 and Neil Pryde's Farr 52 Hi Fi hot on his transom. Mandrake was not far behind, and will be keen to make a bid for the IRC Division A title on corrected time.

Conditions are forecast to strengthen considerably once the boats get out of Hong Kong waters, with Force 5-6 mooted for the first night at sea. As an Offshore Category 1 race, the boats are well prepared, however novice Vietnamese sailors Minh Le on Shahtoosh and Tri Nguyen on Drumstick may find the conditions heavy going!

Benoit Lesaffre's multihull, Atmosphere, should find conditions ideal for a line honours bid, although whether she can challenge Skandia's record of 42h 45m 41s remains to be seen. The slower boats of IRC Division B have been forecast strengthening winds for the latter half of the trip, so Quest, Polar Star III and Barnstormer will be looking forward to reaching their destination before Prizegiving on Sunday night. Premier Cruising will also benefit when the stronger breeze kicks in, with Marcel Leidts' Hocux Pocux 2 competing against Peter Cremers' Shahtoosh and Geoff Hill's HSBC Strewth, helmed this time by George Snow of Brindabella fame.

Progress of the race can be followed via the event website, www.hkvietnamrace.com, thanks to tracking technology provided by Pole Star and SkyWave, who have joined forces to provide a web based tracking facility for the event. SkyWave has supplied all participating boats with one of their DMR 200 units and Pole Star, utilising their Purplefinder technology, will provide the satellite (Inmarsat) based positional data from each boat, which will be updated every two hours during the race.

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