The forecast for the morning was for a light breeze at first and that’s precisely what it was – but a little too light to put it mildly. RO Barry Truhol said shortly before 1000hrs, "we are sat in the middle of Stanley Bay; Round Island zero breeze, zero knots; Stanley Bay, zero breeze, zero knots; out towards Tai Tam Bay zero breeze, zero knots. Area C has the same conditions so we are sitting and waiting and hoping for some wind to come in". The AP went up but the weather gods soon smiled upon the fleets and 40 minutes later the wind began to fill in – 5 to 6kts at first and quickly strengthening to 10 to 12kts as the AP came down shortly after 1100hrs. By the time the windsurfers started racing there were white caps with breeze ranging from 11-15kts giving planing conditions over most of the course. The windsurfers with the ability to get planing earlier opened up some big distances on the windsurfers who chose to put dagger boards down. The windsurfers got three races in before they were replaced on the course by the huge fleet of Optimists. Just before the Optimists were supposed to start racing, a dense bank of fog rolled in and Principal Race Officer Charlie Manzoni made the decision to hoist the AP and gather the Optimists around the committee boat for safety. Luckily, Stanley Bay was not as badly affected by the fog as other race areas. The Optimists were able to get in two demanding races in 16kts before they were sent home to recover. The 2.4mRs did outstandingly and completed 3 races in 16kts and very challenging conditions. Well done sailors.
PRO Manzoni commented on the racing in area B “We had an interesting day today. The visibility came down to about 100m at one point and it was down for about an hour and a half and that meant that I wasn’t able to go and see the 29ers because I couldn’t find them – or indeed the Lasers as I couldn’t find them either. We kept all the boats near the committee boat on every fleet. We stopped racing and waited and then it cleared. On the Optimist course, we had two really good races in beautiful sunshine in about 13kts.”
Over at Area D, RO Brenda Davies found 1 to 2kts from variable directions when she arrived on the course this morning. By 1015hrs though this had filled in to a nice east northeasterly at about 10kts and we were able to get the 470s racing, just a couple of minutes after the scheduled start time. We had sufficient wind to turn off Rule 42 for the 470s as they set off on a two lap race. The 420s and 29ers started thereafter. It was good to see twelve 29ers out on the course today – one of which was OCS in their first start but came back and exonerated themselves. The wind increased throughout the race and we were able to turn off Rule 42 at the top mark on the first lap for the 420s and 29ers. All classes had a good length race finishing in freshening conditions. So for Race 8, we lengthened the course and sent the boats off to top marks at 070° in about 13+ kts which built to 18kts throughout the race. All fleets started with Rule 42 turned off (420s very happy with this at their start) and with no OCSs. All fleets again had a good length race and finished within their target times. With the freshening breeze, the plan was to lengthen the course further for Race 9. Mark boat 1 reported a strange cloud approaching which turned out to be a dense band of fog which rapidly settled over the race area. To increase our distance from the shipping channel we moved the committee boat upwind and flew flag L to get the fleets to follow us. All coaches were asked to bring their fleets close to the committee boat so we account for the sailors whilst waiting to see how the conditions developed. After 15 minutes the fog was thicker so the decision was made to head back to Middle Island with the Hector Ross leading the boats home and all mark boats, coach boats, safety boats sweeping the sailors home. We arrived back at Middle Island to find brilliant sunshine and it was like arriving in a completely different world. We had two good races though today. I was considering trying to squeeze a third race in at Repulse Bay but the winds were much lighter and the bay was filled with fishing boats so that was ruled out. We will try to get four races in tomorrow.
Green Fleet Race Officer Alex Hill remarked on the racing “Today was our first day of Green Fleet racing which saw 16 boats out on the water. The conditions in Repulse Bay were from 8 to 13kts; the wind was a little shifty and the pressure was up and down but the kids did a really good job and we got three races in. In the first race, the sailors were pretty stretched out and did not make it to the start line too quickly. By the third race we had a group cross the line fairly together and stay together around the course so it was great; they are progressing very well. After sailing, we had a final briefing to talk about some rules issues that came up – a couple of sailors were seeking to make protests - but we tend to use those to make teaching moments in a green fleet. Overall it was a very good first day.”
On Area C, Race Officer Inge Strompf-Jepsen commented on the racing “We were sitting outside D’Aguilar headland and there was no wind. Our classes were the Laser Radials and Laser 4.7s. We were waiting and were relieved to eventually see a wind line coming through. Eventually the breeze built and turned into 16 to 17 kts and we were able to complete four races. The turnover for the races was really quick; we virtually hit our target times every race. One of the main events of the day was of course when the fog came rolling in, we were considering abandoning the race but decided to have all the coaches support us by sweeping the course edges so that the sailors could complete the race. In order to finish the last race, we decided to change the course to three shorter laps in order to keep the entire course visible in the fog. All good.”
The final day of Hong Kong Race Week starts tomorrow. The forecast is for slightly stronger conditions - a north-easterly breeze from 10-16 kts. Following the racing, the prize giving will be held at Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club Middle Island with winners receiving trophies and prizes donated by Neil Pryde and SLAM.
Hong Kong Race Week is a constituent event of the ASAF Youth Cup and is co-organised by Hong Kong Sailing Federation and Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club.
Provisional results as of today are available online at http://www.hongkongraceweek.com/prov-results-2017 The event can also be followed on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HongKongRaceWeek and on instagram @hongkongraceweek