VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race Reports

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VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race 2011

Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club


VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race 2011

Jonathan Mahony's Zanzibar takes Div 1 by 8 minutes after 656nm of racing
By RHKYC Media
Photos by Guy Nowell - RHKYC - Cynthia Law - Lindsay Lyons

2000hrs 21 Oct 2011: With FreeFire limping in to Vietnam with rudder and bowsprit damage, the IRC Racing Division 0 prizes were all settled before midnight on day 3, however the IRC Division 1 battle was just hotting up.

Widely fancied to take Division 1, Zanzibar, skippered by Jonathan Mahony, arrived at a wet, cold finish line at just after 0500hrs HKT. Giving the other boats in her division ‘time’ under her IRC handicap, Mahoney and his crew had a nail-biting wait of 4.5 hours to see if they had clinched the Division on corrected time.

The breeze was picking up, and both EFG Bank Mandrake and Ambush had a good last hour as they neared the North Cardinal for the final tack towards the finish line. EFG Bank Mandrake pipped Ambush by exactly five minutes on the water, an incredible finish after 656nm of racing, however after correction, Zanzibar emerged triumphant by only eight minutes over the Kinmonth/ Burns owned Mills 40.

On shore, Kinmonth was delighted, saying “The race down was absolutely fantastic fun. We had a couple of slightly hairy moments, one on a spinnaker change when it got stuck and we had to send ‘Fletch’ up the mast to spike it, and a couple of others coming around the Paracels”

Asked whether the 40 foot version of Mandrake was more fun than the previous 50 foot incarnation, Kinmonth responded that “it was a different experience, but it was fun to have close racing with Ambush. We pulled into a lead and somehow managed to sail deeper and get inside them but is was a nerve-wracking finish as they had a code zero and the wind died and there was a strong tide coming in to the finish”.

Joachim Isler and Drew Taylor were gracious in defeat, with Isler noting that EFG Bank Mandrake had made a good decision in cutting down the size of their jib to reduce their IRC rating, especially as the race is predominantly downhill. “All credit to them, they made a good decision and sailed well. They still managed to sail well in China Coast Regatta (with the reduced jib) and they deserve the win.”

With a second in division in the VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race, EFG Bank Mandrake has sewn up China Coast Race Week for the first time, and has laid down the gauntlet for Asia’s other 40 footers.

More info at: http://www.rhkyc.org.hk/hkvietnamrace.htm

Provisional Results are available at http://www.rhkyc.org.hk/hkv2011results.aspx


VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race 2011

Neil Pryde's Hi Fi takes handicap honours
By RHKYC Media
Photos by Guy Nowell - RHKYC - Cynthia Law - Lindsay Lyons

2000hrs 21 Oct 2011: Second on the water, but certain to take IRC Overall as well as defend her 2008 IRC Racing Division 0 title, Hi Fi crossed the finish line just after 1500hrs Hong Kong time today. Owner and skipper Neil Pryde was a very happy man, saying “Great race, absolutely fantastic. Unbelievably good conditions, except cold and wet today, incredibly consistent breeze with 18 to 20 knots all the time, so the boat speed only dropped below 10 knots as we came into the finish.”

This win makes it two in a row for Hi Fi, although Pryde would not be pushed on whether or not 2013 would see him celebrate his 75th birthday on the open water but confessed to a softening of discipline on this race, with crew smuggling two bottles of champagne on board to celebrate his birthday on the first night out – according to one long time crew member, this was the first time he could remember consuming alcohol during a race.

The crew felt that, in spite of the great breeze, the 2011 edition was the calmest race to date, labeling it “sunny, flat and fast” , noting that the introduction of electric winches, while pushing up Hi Fi’s IRC rating, had also made the atmosphere on board “less testosterone driven”.

Hi Fi’s nearest competitor, Sam Chan’s TP52, FreeFire, retired earlier today with gear failure. Already nursing a broken bowsprit, she reported that “we are now out for good, rudder stock failed, a loud bang and then it went a bit wobbly … we don’t have a good history with this race”. Something of an understatement - her predecessor, FfreeFire 52 had to retire in the 2008 race with a mast problem. FreeFire is proceeding under engine to Nha Trang, and all on board are reported to be safe and well.

More info at: http://www.rhkyc.org.hk/hkvietnamrace.htm


VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race 2011

Audi ultra takes line honours but no cigar...
By RHKYC Media
Photos by Guy Nowell - RHKYC - Cynthia Law - Lindsay Lyons

1347pm 21 Oct 2011: At 09 39 24hrs (HKT) Audi ultra finally coasted across the finish line in Nha Trang to claim line honours in one of Asia’s toughest races. Her elapsed time of 43h 44m 24s was less than one hour outside Skandia’s seven year old record, which, given the demands of the race, was a phenomenal performance by the slightly smaller maxi.

Crew reported several severe squalls during the race, particularly overnight, and there will be some repairs to be carried out in due course, not surprising for a trip averaging around 15kts boat speed.

Three hours after the race finish, although at anchor in the lee of Hon Tre Island, the crew was still fully occupied on board, substituting the delivery main for the race main and tidying up the boat, so it has not yet been possible to get Ludde Ingvall’s thoughts on Audi ultra’s performance.

The next boat expected with an ETA of 1503hrs HKT is Neil Pryde’s Hi Fi, which looks certain to defend her IRC title of 2008.

0927 Russ Parker (FreeFire Racing) posted on Facebook
Morning everyone, some bad news to share with you, we are not leading the VR as the YC tracker would show. I think we have Hi Fi's tracker and they ours. We have had a slow race because at 2033hrs on Wednesday night our bowsprit snapped clean off and so we have not been able to fly kites properly. We were only 100nm out of HK but decided to keep going and are not too unhappy with our performance so far. We carried the A5 on jury rigged tack line for the rest of the first night and then at day break we managed to set the Zero tacked off the bow. This has given us good speeds over 20 at times but we have not been able to sail deep and so have covered many more miles reaching all over the China Sea! It was a huge disappointment but we have continued to give it a good go and we might just squeeze a place on the podium still. Photos to follow when we get in. Everyone on board safe and happy(ish). Russ

More info at: http://www.rhkyc.org.hk/hkvietnamrace.htm


VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race 2011

Audi ultra still on target to break the race record...
By RHKYC Media
Photos by Guy Nowell - RHKYC - Cynthia Law

2030pm 20 Oct 2011: After over 30 hours on the water, the nine boats competing in the VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race continue to make good progress. Earlier this afternoon, Ludde Ingvall of Audi ultra filed a report detailing her experiences, noting that “after a careful start, she settled down offshore and the crew has been seing a lot of bird life, a lot of reefs and a lot of fishing boats”. Ingvall went on to say went on to say what a great experience the young Singapore sailors on board were having, with one, Sam, admitting that it was the first time he had been sailing out of sight of land.

The longest offshore Category 1 race in Asia is a true test of Audi ultra’s mettle, with Ingvall reporting squalls of up to 26kts overnight, and an average boat speed of 23kts, one blown spinnaker and a little damage to the bow which cost them around 8 minutes.

Looking at the latest position at 1800hrs HKT tonight, that will not deprive the super maxi of a new Race record as she has 185nm to go to reach the finish line travelling at around 17kts, however the crew still faces the challenge of the early morning gybe towards the Vietnam coast, which may offer a flat calm as daylight dawns.

70nm behind Audi ultra and running west of the rhumb line, FreeFire is piling on the pressure in her quest to lift the IRC Racing Division 0 title on corrected time, having built up a significant cushion over Hi Fi. In IRC Racing Division 1, Zanzibar is, in theory just over half an hour ahead of EFG Bank Mandrake on estimated corrected time but the tactics employed as they near the coast will influence the final outcome.

EFG Bank Mandrake is virtually on top of sister Mills, Ambush, with only 1nm between the boats after 310nm on the water. Sell Side Dream is a further 40nm back, with El Oro and Cutting Edge marshalling the fleet with 400nm to go.

The finish line has been laid and the race team is keeping careful watch on the fleet’s progress so that it is ‘on station’ to welcome Audi ultra to Vietnam – and a new record – in the morning.

More info at: http://www.rhkyc.org.hk/hkvietnamrace.htm


VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race 2011

Record set to be smashed...
By RHKYC Media
Photos by Guy Nowell - RHKYC - Cynthia Law

11:30am 20 Oct 2011: With the NE Monsoon re-established over the Northern South China Sea, the lead boats in the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s 2011 VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam race are setting a cracking pace.

At 1030hrs this morning local time – just shy of 16 hours into the race, the Supermaxi Audi ultra had covered half the course distance, and is currently set to smash Grant Wharington’s 2004 race record or 42:45:41. To do this she must finish before 08:40:41hrs Hong Kong time on Friday. Current predictions put her finishing sometime between 0500hrs and 0600hrs on Friday if she keeps up her current pace, but closing the coast and getting in to the finish can be notoriously tricky, so this one may go down to the wire.

On handicap Audi ultra is currently second based on her recent VMG with Neil Pryde’s Hi Fi leading ahead of Zanzibar. Neil Pryde celebrated his birthday at sea last night onboard Hi Fi, so belated happy returns to Neil. Sam Chan’s Freefire has just traded her clear handicap lead for a move to the East, being the first boat to gybe onto starboard to close the coast of Vietnam. Bold or inspired? Only time will tell.

In the forty footers, Zanzibar is leading the pack. Significantly lighter than the two Mills boats (Ambush and EFG Bank Mandrake), Zanzibar will no doubt be enjoying the downwind slide. EFG Bank Mandrake and Ambush seem locked together on the race track, and this contest will also be one to follow closely.

Sell Side Dream, El Oro and Cutting Edge are also making great progress. With all boats in the fleet currently on or close to the rum line, and the breeze is looking like it will hold for the next 24 hours at least. Everyone is looking to finish in good time.

More info at: http://www.rhkyc.org.hk/hkvietnamrace.htm


VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race 2008

Race Start - Press Release
By RHKYC Media
Photos by Guy Nowell - RHKYC - Cynthia Law

19 Oct 2011: Organised by Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and postponed from 2010 due to the track of super typhoon Megi, the VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race finally got underway at 1355hrs today, off the south east of Lamma Island.

From there, the nine competitors will round Wenwei Zhou before passing a series of island marks on the 656nm journey to Nha Trang in Vietnam.

With 16 to 18 knots of due easterly, Race Officer Jimmy Farquhar set a windward mark at just over 0.6nm from the start line and wasted no time in bidding the fleet ‘bon voyage’.

Audi ultra showed off her lines as she powered around the windward mark in 11 minutes at the head of the fleet, ahead of FreeFire and Hi Fi. In IRC Racing Division 2, Ambush was round in 13 minutes, ahead of EFG Bank Mandrake, who appeared to have a headsail problem, followed by a less than slick spinnaker hoist. After 20 minutes, the lone Premier Cruising entrant, El Oro, rounded the mark, and the race committee left the course.

The first position reporting schedule is at 1800hrs tonight, and all eyes are on Audi ultra to see if she is on course to smash Skandia’s 2004 record of 42h 45m 41s.

Video footage of the start is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfGWCQEKsro


VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race 2011

Pre-Race Press Release
By RHKYC Media
Photos by Guy Nowell - RHKYC - Cynthia Law

17 Oct 2011: Postponed from 2010 due to the proximity of Super Typhoon Megi, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race will start on Wednesday 19 October at 1210hrs. Offering 656nm of sheer exhilaration, this Category 1 Offshore race has become a biennial calendar fixture since 2004 and is currently recognized as a qualifying race for the CYCA’s Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race.

The race is not for the faint-hearted, with challenging downhill conditions of 15 to 30kts often leading to gear failure on even the best-prepared boats. Entrants must pass strict scrutineering and safety checks, and are required to have a minimum of 50% of their crew qualified in First Aid and have undergone Safety at Sea Survival training.

Grant Wharington’s 2004 monohull record of 42h 45m 41s may be under threat from the Super Maxi Audi ultra, however Singapore-based skipper, Ludde Ingvall, while confident of taking line honours for the 2011 event, does not expect to top the podium after IRC handicaps have been applied to the finish times unless he and his team have sailed an exceptional race.

According to Neil Pryde, the defending IRC Racing 0 champion, the VinaCapital Hong Hong to Vietnam Race is“..one of the great Ocean races, combining an exhilarating downhill slide with a very interesting tactical challenge that unfolds as the fleet approaches the Vietnam coast …the race that nobody wants to miss”. Pryde is looking for another offshore win with his well-drilled crew on Welbourn 52, Hi Fi, while Sam Chan is back again with his latest TP52, Freefire. From Singapore, Jonathan Mahoney on Humphreys 42 Zanzibar is participating for the first time.

2008 IRC Racing 1 winner Ambush was the only boat in her division to finish that year, however the Isler/ Taylor owned Mills 41 will have a battle on her hands this time around, with the Kinmonth/ Burns owned Mills 40 EFG Bank Mandrake making her first appearance on the route to Nha Trang together with fellow first-timers Sell Side Dream (A40/ Simon Powell) and Cutting Edge (Grand Soleil 40/ YK Szeto).

Tim Wilson’s El Oro is, literally, in a class of her own, being the only Premier Cruising boat to enter this year’s race, however the Auzepy-Brenneur, thwarted in her attempt to race in the 2010 event, is champing at the bit after last year’s post-Megi delivery trip, with Wilson saying “We are looking forward to the VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race because we got a feeling of how good this Race could be with 30kts downwind last year and 20kts speed down the waves with reefs in.”

Let us hope that the wind gods deliver!

More info at: http://www.rhkyc.org.hk/hkvietnamrace.htm

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