Rolex’s 2014 international yachting season commences in Hong Kong in mid-April with the return of the biennial Rolex China Sea Race. Running 565-nm from Hong Kong’s bustling Victoria Harbour, where traditional sampans compete for water space with modern commercial craft, it is Asia’s principal offshore competition. The race crosses the South China Sea, finishing in Subic Bay, The Philippines.
The 2012 edition of the race marked the 50th anniversary of the competition and celebrations were suitably festive. Australian Geoff Hill’s 90-ft Maxi Genuine Risk claimed line honours in just over 60 hours, someway off the course record set by acclaimed local yachtsman Karl Kwok on his Volvo 60 Beau Geste (elapsed time 47 hours, 43 minutes and 7 seconds) in 2000.
With less than a month to go until the start, the current entry list suggests a typical fleet of around 35 boats. In its new guise as Ragamuffin 90, skippered by Australian sailing legend Syd Fischer, the former Genuine Risk will start as favourite for line honours and is by some distance the largest competing yacht. Meanwhile, Hill will be campaigning the 72-ft Antipodes (GBR).
Jonathan Mahony’s 42-ft Zanzibar from Singapore, overall winner last time round, is returning to defend her crown having completed the most recent edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart. Three TP52s in American Brian Erhart’s Lucky, winner of the Rolex Middle Sea Race in 2010, Sam Chan’s FreeFire from Hong Kong and Ernesto Echauz’s Standard Insurance Centennial representing The Philippines will provide stiff competition. Echauz was overall winner of the event in 1998 and 2008 with Subic Centennial. Another sure protagonist is Neil Pryde’s Welbourne 52 Hi Fi of Hong Kong, line honours winner in 2008 and in 2010, when she also won on handicap.
Photo Credit : Rolex / Daniel Forster
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