Racing to Cheung Chau: Wind and Rum a’Plenty

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The breeze at the start line was softening and neither end of it looked appealing. So we chose the committee boat end as the wind was coming from the South East and we might be able to make Chesterman Buoy in one tack if we were lucky. Our timing was excellent. Chris, skipper of Boadicea, a Hanse 400, did a good job snaking towards the line to lose some time and when the gun went we were pretty much spot on, about one boat length past the committee boat and a few metres short. Just behind us was the sporty looking Redeye, and at the other end of the line, Wonderwall, the dark blue Beneteau 45.

We sailed along at around 3-4 knots and felt very sluggish. Redeye soon undertook us, aided by her longer water line and her much higher mast. Calamasi, the Beneteau 34.7 went to the far right, to the other side of Round Island – her strategy looked good but we’d made our bed and we would lie in it; plus we had gained on Wonderwall, overtaken her in fact.

Closer to Chesterman Buoy the wind started building, our boat speed rose to around 5-6 knots. We rounded Chesterman Buoy, tacking onto a fine reach, too hot to hoist the spinnaker but on a much better angle to the swell and consequently we built more speed.

From Chesterman Buoy it was a straight sail to a rounding off the East of Lamma Island which we made in a good time in a building wind, but not before Wonderwall came steaming past us. She was enjoyed the kind of winds she was built for – twenty knots i’d say.

A couple of tacks after the rounding, we were on the South side of Lamma where the wind was so strong there was talk on Boadicea of reefing. Our skipper Chris and main trimmer Peter, had sailed on this side of Lamma numerous times before though, and were fairly sure the wind would die down once closing in on Cheung Chau, and sure enough it dropped back to 15+ knots ten minutes or so later.

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Calamansi hoists her spinnaker for the short reach to the finish

The finish line was on the west side of Cheung Chau between a buoy and the committee boat. Coming around the South Westerly corner of the island meant we’d have a short broad reach to the finish – an opportunity for a spinnaker hoist. Calamansi had hoisted hers ahead of us, but she was the only boat who had. On Boadicea, we were all set up for a hoist, but with a spinnaker sock to contend with and being as we were just 2-3 minutes from crossing the line, we opted to sail to the finish on the genoa. Turns out it may have been the wrong decision. Looking at the results, with just one minute on corrected time between Boadicea (sixth place) and the four boats ahead of us, the extra sail area might have picked us up a place or two. Still, sixth out of sixteen was a respectable result.

Full race results here

After a splendid lunch in Cheung Chau, the Boadicea gang took the boat back to her home in Discovery Bay, whilst myself and fellow guest crew member Boie parted ways catching rides back to Aberdeen and Causeway Bay respectively. I joined Wonderwall, who’d pulled off a fantastic performance to achieve second place, particularly impressive after a ropey first leg. The crew as usual were in party mode. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves as it relates to the rest of the day!

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