Some Good News coming out of Hong Kong, at last!
Not even the SARS scare could stop the healthy buggers at the RHKYC from entering a mixed 37 strong fleet of ocean racers and gather in Hong Kong for the 14th bi-annual running of the 480nm San Fernando Race. But Typhoon Kujira currently located South of Guam and moving at 15 knots in a WNW direction could see a number of dramatic changes made before Thursday's 12:00 noon start.
This is considered one of Asia's Classic Offshore Races, usually held over the easter long weekend. It is also the 11th event on the 2002/03 Asian Yachting Regatta Season that crosses the often fabled South China Sea to finish up in the Philippines in time for the following weeks Presidents Cup.
14th Hong Kong to San Fernando Race
Eleventh hour cancellation! - San Fernando Race
Contrary to the earlier AY Pre-Race Report an increasing concern about the spread of SARS has led acting Governor of La Union province to withdraw permission for any boat from Hong Kong to land at San Fernando. Forcing RHKYC Race Chairman, Vic Locke to announce to the assembled sailors an eleventh hour cancellation of this years San Fernando Race, today.
The RHKYC committee is now in the process of finalizing a 200nm replacement offshore race for local boats starting in Junk bay at 12 noon on Thursday and if no further problems arise from the approaching Typhoon Kujira send the 8 Clippers heading for Singapore on there way, but to everybody's disappointment the race will not finish in the sun, sand and swaying palm trees in the Philippines. For more developments go to www.rhkyc.org.hk
In return to the network
of sailing friends and internet news sources out there, that
keep me in touch with the latest news, I would like
to dedicate the rest of this report to all those hard working people
that supply anything from a snippet of info, or email to the
full blown multi media outfits for their combined efforts in
2002 FLEET NOW HOMEWARD BOUND?
As San Fernando
is no longer an option for the Clipper 2002 Round the World crews the
fourth leg will now head for Singapore and is expected
to get underway tomorrow, Thursday 17 April 2003. After a three-week
stopover which has seen the largest crew changeover of the eleven-month
circumnavigation and the yachts hoisted out of the water for routine maintenance.
The San Fernando Race represents the only time the Clipper fleet actually
sails in competition with other yachts during their 2 year circumnavigation and San
Fernando will be missed as it was an especially popular event with
the crews two years ago.
Earlier on both cruising division boats in the 2 Handed Melbourne to Osaka Race George Shore/Robyn Brooks on Boots and the Colin Smith/Adam Manders teams on Louise reported that they had no option other than anchor south of typhoon alley near Ulul Atoll to avoid crossing the path of the developing system. After spending a few uncomfortable hours amongst the low-elevation sandy coral islands the Typhoon passed 120 miles to the north and was moving rapidly westward.
INTO THE MIST OF THE SOUTH CHINA SEA
Race 9 of the Clipper 2002 Round the World Yacht Race is now underway, with the eight identically matched yachts crossing the Hong Kong start line at 12:20 (local time) today 17 April 2003 , setting sail for Singapore.
The Clipper fleet left the dock at 09:30 to perform a parade of sail up the harbour, led by Justin Taylor aboard Hong Kong Clipper. Unfortunately, as is often the case in Hong Kong at this time of year, the visibility was poor and the dramatic skyline was lost in the mist.
New skipper Ross Daniel had an eventful morning when all his wind instruments failed, but due to some great last minute work by the boat yard, the problem was quickly resolved and New York Clipper sailed on time to join the others for the start.
Race start spectators were given a great treat; a ride aboard Wingsing, one of only three remaining sailing junks in Hong Kong kindly offered by Hillary King and Tristan Stewart. The junk displayed a magnificent banner saying 'Good Luck Hong Kong Clipper,' provided by the Clipper Sailmaker, Tim Keogh of China Sails.
The race start took place in the eastern entrance to Hong Kong Harbour, just outside the busy shipping channel. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club boats, unable to sail on the San Fernando Race due to SARS quarantine restrictions, started 20 minutes before the Clipper fleet on a short coastal race to Macao. Conditions were light for the start of RHKYC fleet, but there was just enough breeze to carry them away into the mist.
Then the Clipper fleet started in fine form and New York Clipper got the best start followed by Bristol, Cape Town, Liverpool and Hong Kong. London Clipper was next with Jersey and Glasgow chasing. Initially the yachts had spread out trying to find the wind, but after 20 minutes they then started drifting together.
In fact Bristol and Jersey both lost steerage way and literally did drift together, with the rival crews manning the fenders. Bristol Clipper, skippered by Richard Butler, seemed in a sociable mood and also then drifted into Glasgow. Amazingly after 45 minutes all the boats were in a perfectly close formation.
There were many different thoughts on how to get the boats moving. London hoisted her spinnaker, while others put up wind seekers. Then Adam Kyffin's crew aboard Liverpool Clipper, with her No 1 Yankee hoisted, got an edge on the others. She pulled out a lead of some 50 metres and started accelerating.
The wind filled in from the front and by the time it reached the others, Liverpool Clipper had disappeared into the mist with a mile lead. Those few yards made all the difference and maybe this race has got Liverpool's name on it.
The fleet will be racing down the east side of the South China Sea and their first waypoint will be to the NE of the Macclesfield bank. The forecast is for force 4 easterly winds and so they should enjoy good reaching conditions. The Hong Kong Observatory gave a detailed weather briefing to all of the racing crews, including predictions for Typhoon Kujira (the Whale).
This is presently in the Pacific and is expected to veer to the north over the next few days and pass to the north of the Philippines. The Clippers should not be affected by it other than to have a good northerly breeze to speed them on their way south. Like all tropical storms, Kujira is being very closely tracked and any developments will be closely watched.
As the Clipper fleet bid farewell to Hong Kong our thanks go to Commodore Alan Lau and everyone at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, who have made this a truly memorable and successful stopover.
Next stop, Singapore!
More on the Clipper Website: http://www.clipper-ventures.com
ARCS Chart showing the route for Race 9
Race 9 is 1800 miles long. Initially the course is 700 miles just to the east of south to the entrance of the Palawan Passage. The Clippers will turn at a GPS Waypoint and then head SW down the southern coast of the Philippines until they reach Sabah. There are then three 'gates' along the coast as they pass Brunei and Sarawak. After threading themselves through some Indonesian islands they finally reach the eastern end of the Singapore Straits and the famous Horsburgh light.
It is expected they will have easterly winds to begin with which may back to the north. They should make quite quick progress will the crews then work out they will be early in Singapore.
Next the wind will die and become very unpredictable. There will then be several days of frustrating calms; the miles will become much longer and all the crews earlier estimates of an early arrival will be dashed! Crews will get very hot and when the boat has to be shut down for rain squalls it will become unbearable below.
Despite the above, I hope that they may arrive in Singapore by the 1st May although the published date is the 2nd.
The leading boats have just over 50 miles to run to the first gate. Thanks to their ARCS electronic charts, displayed by their Euronav seaPro 2000 software, they will clearly be able to see the gate and take their time as they pass through it.
The next gate is off the coast of Brunei, some 168 miles further on. This one, called BBBG (Bloody Big Brunei Gate) is 107 miles wide - probably the biggest gate in the world!
The boats have all done between 55 and 60 miles over the last 12 hours, which is pretty reasonable in the conditions. The racing in the two groups remains incredibly tight and the twice daily position reports show that all bar two of the Clippers have led this race since its start on 17 April.
On a different note, the situation in Asia regarding SARS continues to affect everyone. The authorities in Singapore have taken a very positive approach to containing the disease and as a result the number of cases are very small. There is however a natural and understandable apprehension in the region relating to the disease and, in a vibrant and successful country such as Singapore, this becomes a dominant issue.
After a great deal of thought the Republic of Singapore
Yacht Club (RSYC) has asked Clipper to reconsider their planned visit
to the Club. The eight Clipper yachts were scheduled to visit the RSYC
from 2-8 May 2003 as part of
These plans will see the Clipper fleet visit Nongsa Point Marina in Batam, part of the Riau group of islands. The marina is on the northern point of Batam Island, some 12 miles SSE of Singapore, and has regular ferry service taking just 30 minutes. The visit will still be supported by the RSYC and in addition the Riau Yacht Club and Nongsa Resort will both be actively involved.
Although Batam is part of Indonesia, access to and from Singapore is straightforward and the islands are a popular holiday venue for people from Singapore. The Marina, built in 1995, has excellent facilities and is surrounded by the hotels and chalets of the resort. Details can be found at http://www.nongsaresorts.com and www.riauyachtclub.com
This change of plan will not have nearly as much effect on the crews as would first appear. During the last race's visit to Singapore, several crew members decided to slip quietly away from the bright lights and find some idyllic island to enjoy a few days on their own. They chose both Batam and its neighbour Bintan, and found everything except solitude as all their crewmates had come to the same conclusion!
The Prize Giving Reception for this closely fought race from Hong Kong to Batam will be sponsored by the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club and the winner will be presented with the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club's Silver Junk Trophy. It is hoped that several of the members of the RSYC and other yacht clubs in Singapore will bring their boats over to Nongsa Point during the Clippers' visit.
VICTORY FOR HONG KONG AS RACE 10 FINISHES AT KOTAL KINABLALU
Race 10 of the Clipper
2002 Round the World Series, from Hong Kong to Batam, has been shortened
and the Race Committee have decided that due to unfavourable weather forecast
for the next 72 hours that the finish would be
The eight racing yachts are now currently en route for the Sutera Marina in the port of Kota Kinablalu where they will refuel. http://www.suteraharbourclub.com/marina_sea.htm With few suitable ports on this coast for taking fuel, it has been decided that with the prevailing conditions this is the most prudent option.
The finishing times for crossing Gate KK are as follows. These are also the provisional results for Race 10 from Hong Kong to Batam:
Pos Yacht Finishing
The racing remained incredible tight all the way to the end and congratulations are due to all of the skippers and crews, although special recognition is due to Justin Taylor and his crew aboard Hong Kong Clipper on their third race win of the series. The Clipper fleet are now expected to arrive at Nongsa Point Marina in Batam, part of the Riau group of islands, on the morning of Friday, 2 May 2003.
April 2003 Thanks to Sutera Marina from all the
Race 10 of the Clipper 2002 Round the World Yacht Race finished at the
gate just short of Kota Kinablalu the eight Clipper Yachts motored into
harbour and refuelling at Sutera Marina. Although this was not a planned
stop, the race route was designed so that this port was always an option
for any contingencies. Even under normal conditions the number of ports
that are suitable for yachts in this part of the world is very limited.
It is quite clear that in the present difficult times access to ports
is more controlled and sensitive than ever before. Sutera Marina is one
of very few marinas in the area and has gained a reputation as being a
well run and popular venue. Many yachtsmen now use Sutera as a keystone
to their plans when sailing around Asia.
Skipper of Glasgow Clipper and the current lead Skipper reported on the
visit: "In summary it was a very successful fuelling stop and all
completed without a hitch. The marina staff were very helpful and worked
hard for us, staying open late until the job was done. The crew were very
sad not to stay and think it should definitely be a stop next time. Please
pass on our thanks to them all. The Manager, Richard Chong is definitely
a star!. Thanks Sutera Marina from all the Clippers."