July 17, 2005-Club Racing Is Good
Club Racing Is Good
There is a lot written about America's Cup and other big time sailing events, but Judy and I rather like the local yacht club races, regardless of whether we are, like in the old days in Seattle sailing with Corinthian or The Sloop Tavern, in Vanuatu, sailing with the Port Vila Yacht Club, or here in Hong Kong, sailing with the Discovery Bay Yacht Club. In fact, the DBYC races are often sort of mini-cruises, which are really fun.
Sunday we raced to Cheung Chau Island, had a great lunch there, and cruised home. Here is our report:
Race to Cheung Chau:
Contrary to the forecast, we had good sailing conditions for the start of our Cheung Chau race but when we hit the dead spot just past Kau Ki Chau I thought the weather forecast was going to turn out right; “Wind light and variable to Force 2”. We saw the whole fleet of smaller boats that had started ahead of us spread out half way to Lamma Island and sitting motionless in the water. Behind us Wizard and the multihulls were charging up, but I knew they’d stop too in a few seconds.
That’s how it often is sailing in Hong Kong in the summertime, hot and windless. There had been a few good sailing days this month and the weather for the Macau race was super, but now we’d have to pay our dues and sit.
Or would we?
You don’t spend most of your sailing life in Puget Sound without learning how to deal with light air. Soon we had the crew lined up on the low side, the Genoa trimmed loosely, and we were moving. Maybe we were only boat that was. Even better, there was wind coming! We could see it on the water coming in from the sea and we knew that whoever got this new breeze first would win the race. We focused our efforts at keeping Wings going towards the closest dark patch and the reward was that we got the wind, if not first, then at least as soon as Wizard, our main rival in the Discovery Bay Yacht Club Races.
From then on it was a race to the finish. All the boats were heeled over, crew lining the rail, and showing a fine “bone in the teeth.” Crossing tacks in flat water under clear blue skies with Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak high above us. Another wonderful sail in Hong Kong. How lucky can we get?
Luckier, it seems. We got a bit of a knock, tacked over and crossed Wizard. From then on we covered tightly and crossed the line just ahead of them. First to finish and first place on correct time too. Super!
By 14:00 all the boats were anchored off the beach at Cheung Chau Island, our lunch destination, and the fleet’s dingys were ferrying crowds of hungry sailors to shore, where they quickly set off through the village to restaurant row on the other side of the island, in time for piles of Chinese seafood and lots of cold Tsingtao beer, plus some story telling from the day’s excitement. Before lunch was finished Commodore Jim had the official results and we were able to collect our prizes of more beer and a bottle of fine wine before stumbling off back to the boats.
Rescue at Sea!
Oops! There was one less boat anchored off the beach then there was when we left them. No, it wasn’t Wings that went walkabout but another of the racers. We could see it far out to sea, drifting happily, the anchor hanging straight down.
Time for a rescue. Off we sped in Wings’ inflatable and a little later we came motoring back, errant boat in tow. We decided that his third place bottle of wine would make a fine salvage prize, or…lacking that, more Tsingtao.
The sail home under just the mainsail, but with a nice following breeze, was fast and even cool in the evening shadow of Lantau’s high hills. Happy crew, fine wine, Willie and Lobo on the stereo, and 17kts of breeze. Who could ask for more?
The party back at the dock in Discovery Bay lasted well into the night and I’m sure there were some tired, sunburned and hung over bodies that headed off to work the next morning.
But that’s what a great day of club racing will do to you. We love it.
Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Hong Kong