WORDS: NICK ATKINSON | IMAGES: TAKUMI IMAGES PANDAMAN
You can only plan so much and this year’s Flying Fifteen Championships has, like
the rest of 2020, presented a number of challenges.
14 boats had entered in what was billed to be one of only two Flying Fifteen National Championships being able to take place globally, due to a certain Virus that we all know about. Despite the Virus, the Hong Kong Fleet was determined to see the event go ahead.
For a moment, the tell-tales all seemed to be streaming in the right direction; social distancing rules were starting to be relaxed, boats were allowed back on the water and the fleet had managed to complete four weekends of racing.
However, the weather gods seemed to have other ideas, delivering a Typhoon into the South China Sea that threatened to spoil the fun. Never one to be deterred, Class Secretary Carlyon Knight-Evans pulled every string he had to ensure that all contingency plans were
As the weekend grew closer and the typhoon moved further away, it looked as if fate was on
our side, tantalising us with a blustering two days of sailing in the taxing conditions that Lamma’s open water racetrack has to offer.
Alas, with the T3 strong wind signal still in place on Saturday morning, the regatta was forced to be compressed down to just four races on the Sunday. None the less, ‘The
Champs’ were going ahead.
The event was threatened again on Sunday morning, with recorded winds of 25plus
knots (more than during the typhoon!) and an uneven sea state covering the Lamma course
area. Race officer Brenda Davies wisely made the decision to move the racing to Repulse Bay and the event was finally underway.
12 of the 14 boats entered were able to make it to the start of race one – Thomas Isaac’s Ffolly (3604) being forced to retire having snapped a shroud on the way to the start, showing just how hard the conditions were, even in the more sheltered Repulse Bay waters.
The fleet completed a spectacular first race, filled with strong gusts of 18 to 23 knots and frequent shifts, as the crews battled it out over the three-lap course. Race two was much the same, although the sailors were much relieved that the race officer had decided to set a slightly shorter two lap race, which in all honestly felt just as exhausting as the first! Nick Beezy and Ben Koppelaar in 3990 claimed first place in both races, while the rest of the fleet mixed and matched in the tough conditions.
Race three saw the breeze settle down a little, with a shifty 10 knot easterly with a right hand bias on the course. The lighter winds allowed the lighter crews to come into their own, but still the top spot was reserved for 3990, finishing a full two minutes before the next boat – Howard Williams and Michael Bennett in 3981.
During the stronger conditions in the morning the fleet was spread across the course area,
but in the last race it was a much closer affair. While the title was secured with a forth consecutive win for 3990, overall the next two boats were both tied on 14 points, so the final two spots on the podium had to be decided on count back with Jasper Ten Berge and Rob Partridge in 3575 securing 2nd place ahead of Peter Britten and Oliver Merz in 3722 in 3rd.
Back on dry land, the fleet gathered around the boats on the hard standing to enjoy a socially distanced complementary cold beer or two and a short prize giving. With the COVID-19 restrictions continuing to be relaxed in Hong Kong, the fleet in eagerly looking forward to a passage race back on Kellett Island the following Saturday, which would be
followed by the crown jewel of the HK sailing calendar – the Around The Island Race on
Sunday 8 November.
The Flying Fifteen committee are working hard to ensure that as many boats as possible can compete in the club events, so if you are a helm looking for a crew, a crew looking for
a helm, or you just want to get out and enjoy the delights that the flying fifteen has to offer,
please do get in touch and we will do our best to get you out on the water.