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Rolex China Sea Race - the Race Chairman’s View

by RHKYC Media and Guy Nowell on 20 Mar 2016
2016 Rolex China Sea Race RHKYC/Guy Nowell
Organised by Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, the 2016 edition of the Rolex China Sea Race will start on Wednesday 23 March. Race Chairman Simon Powell shared his thoughts on the 565nm Category 1 Offshore race, which has been run under the auspices of RORC since 1972 and has been included in the prestigious Rolex catalogue of Rolex sailing events since 2008.

“With less than a week to go to the start of the race, I am sitting at RORC in St James looking up at the painting of the Fastnet Rock and thinking about the club that has hosted the Fastnet Race since 1925, and reflecting on Asia’s own flagship race, the Rolex China Sea Race.”

“The 2016 edition of Asia’s most exciting race marks another chapter as the number of international entries continues to rise and swells the entries to 34. The Chinese entries continue to grow as the Swan 80 UBOX shows up complete with some Dongfeng crew fresh from the Volvo Ocean Race race.”

“The general consensus is that the Rolex China Sea Race is up there as one of the most challenging Category 1 races on the planet. Despite significant commercial shipping, the South China Sea is a remote part of the world that requires crews to be prepared for self-rescue in the event that something goes wrong. As a blue water race, it has a bit of everything - from a spectacular start among the skyscrapers crowding around Hong Kong harbour, through the lumpy challenging conditions on the first night at sea and on to the deep blue water as you near the northern Philippines.”



“On paper this event might look like a drag race with a predominant easterly breeze and trade winds of 70 to 90 degrees, but the reality is often different, with the infamous Luzon hole causing the fleet to compress and effectively restart. Timing approaching the coast is everything. The diurnal vagaries of the breeze in the vicinity of Subic are well known to the RCSR regulars, but that doesn’t make them any easier to negotiate. The net result is that there are many boats that have the chance of lifting the trophy under IRC.”

“The Rolex China Sea Race might be less than half the age of the Fastnet Race but, in my opinion, it’s still the Asian classic and one that should be on every offshore sailor’s bucket list.”

The Rolex China Sea Race will start on 23 March 2016 in front of Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s Kellett Island headquarters in Hong Kong and will finish in Subic Bay, Philippines, hosted by Subic Bay Yacht Club.

Race action will be tracked by Yellowbrick Tracking and will be shown live at www.rolexchinasearace.com



Sail-World’s Asia Editor, Guy Nowell, a China Sea veteran, will be reporting from Geoff Hill’s Antipodes, a Smith 72 Custom. “Right now, just look out of the window – fog, damp and drizzle – Easter is always a good time to take a break from Hong Kong! My first China Sea Race was in 1990 on board a Banner 41, and it was one of the slowest CSRs on record. We spent four days match racing Steve Ellis’s Sweet Caroline in catspaw breezes all the way to Corregidor Island where the wind kicked in. We got a fabulous spinnaker blast up Manila Bay (unusual!), and they beat us across the line by 45 secs – we had identical CHS handicaps of 1.125. I am rather hoping the 2016 edition of Asia's premier blue water race will be a little faster!”

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