The 19th International Flying Fifteen Worlds has thrown every conceivable weather combination at competitors, and today it was time to try some light air sailing. The T flag was displayed on shore, indicating that all competitors would be towed across the Lamma TSS and RO Jerry Rollin was happy to raise the AP at the start line in order to ensure that everyone had time to prepare.
That also gave him time to reconsider the start line position, which was pushing the windward mark right out to the limit of Hong Kong waters, by retreating 200m further downwind.
Early indications were that a 1.15nm beat would be ample to give the sailors a race of around two hours, however the wind was gradually shifting round to the east, requiring the pin boat to be re-anchored and by the time the start gun was fired, although the fleet got a clean start, Rollin noted the dying breeze, coupled with another wind shift and raised the N flag to abandon the race and bring everyone back to the start area.
The pin boat was once again relocated, and with the breeze filling in to 5kts, the RO tried to get race 6 underway again, however just before the start gun, another AP #2 was displayed, as race management waited for a wind shift to settle. The AP was removed, only to be re-hoisted four minutes later and the pin boat anchor was lifted once again with all boats standing by waiting for the new breeze to fill in.
Fill in it did, 50 degrees further east than when the first attempt at a start was made, however this time the forecast replenishment of the northeast monsoon held steady at eight-10 knots and the RO was able to reset the line to his satisfaction. Perhaps impatient to get sailing after sitting around for so long, the bulk of the fleet was over early, earning a general recall and a black flag restart. This time, everyone got it right, including the breeze, and the fleet were all clear nearly two hours later than scheduled.
Cosmas Grelon got a flyer of a start for Hong Kong on Noisy Forefather, reaching the windward mark first, ahead of Pharos Financial Group and the rest of the fleet before a local fishing vessel managed to hook the mark. With the mark returned to its rightful owners, the mark layers had 45 seconds to get it into place before the fleet rounded the leeward gate.
By the time they did, Graham Vials had taken up the head of the fleet, ahead of Greg Wells on Betty and Ashley Smith on PHAROS Financial Group and the Jerwoods on Ineffable and with the wind holding steady, Foof crossed the finish line in first place – their fourth of the regatta – to secure their defense of their World Title with a race in hand.
On the dock afterwards, Vials said “it was surprisingly good racing – I was a bit concerned that with the lighter breeze we might get caught by a wind shift, but it all went to plan. We’re looking forward to the curry buffet tonight, and a day off tomorrow.”
Ineffable maintains their position in second place, six points ahead of Steve Goacher and Phil Evans on 4021. El Toro has dropped to fourth overall after a disappointing 9th today, with Betty in fifth on equal points with Alan Bax and Chris Hewkin on 3998.
Top Hong Kong boat is Noisy Forefather with Cosmas Grelon and Rory Godman in 17th overall, with Ffact or Ffiction in 21st and Uffa Fox Ache in 24th.
The final day of the 19th International Flying Fifteen World Championship is tomorrow, Thursday, November 7, and is scheduled to feature one race starting at 12:05 p.m., with a target finish time of 120 minutes. The overall prize-giving will be held poolside at RHKYC Kellett Island on Friday, November 8.