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8 October 2006, 02:24 pm
Gentle Breezes Close HKSF Dinghy Open
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HKSF International Dinghy Regatta 2006
Hong Kong

The last day of the Hong Kong Sailing Federation (HKSF) International Open Dinghy Regatta was bright, hazy, and not nearly as windy as either the competitors would have liked of the HK Observatory had forecast.
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Despite moments of breezy optimism, Race Officer Jimmy FARQUHAR eventually sent the combined Open fleet of 18 starters away in eight knots of breeze from due north. It was the 470's that led the way to the top mark, only to be overtaken by the 29ers on the trip out to the wing. Richard KNIGHT and Make HALKES (HKG), currently running a campaign to represent Hong Kong in the 49er class at the next Olympic Sailing Competition, were very realistic about the conditions, 'We needed more breeze to point upwind, and more breeze to plane downwind. 29ers are rather like those 'sinker' windsurf boards - they need a certain minimum wind speed to get going at all.'

Never mind the lack of wind, HALKES and KNIGHT nipped smartly round the course at the front of the fleet, sailing in (some) pressure all the way to the finish. Then the breeze died, leaving almost everyone else struggling, and giving the 29er their first bullet of the regatta.

The leading 420 crew of Isamu SAKAI and Bryan TSE (HKG) struggled home in eleventh place - their worst of the regatta, and the only one below third.

LEUNG Takes Optimist Title

The Optimist fleet shot off en masse to the right hand side of the course, and rounded the top mark in a tight bunch with Yann CUDENNEC (HKG) in the lead. Even though they were sailing a substantially shorter course than the Open fleet, the Optimists also got caught by the dying breeze, and their course was shortened at the Committee Boat where Erica LEUNG sneaked past Akira SAKAI on a gasp of air to win by something less than a second - one point that was enough to give her the overall championship.

After a 'wait-for-the-breeze break' of 45 minutes or so, the wind piped up to eleven knots, and the fleets were away on a starboard-rounding course. But the promise did not hold, and most of the race was sailed in five to six knots of breeze only.

The Open fleet split evenly off the start line, with the right handers staying in just a little more pressure to mostly make it to the top first. The trip out to the wing mark led the fleet into a little more breeze, but it was back to the very light stuff for the sausage, with some of the Laser competitors showing remarkable skill in rolling and sculling down the run. Nearly all boats got home before the cut off.

The Laser fleet decided that there was to be no more racing, but the Race Committee waited very patiently on the off chance that the wind would return. However, at 1420, and with a mere four knots on the clock, the Race Officer fired three guns and hoisted N over A, bringing to an end a well contested series.

SAKAI And TSE Take 420 Title

Open class was won by Isamu SAKAI and Bryan TSE (HKG) in a 420. They took a substantial lead over the fleet on day one with three first places, and never looked back. 'Three third places on day two meant we were being a little TOO consistent' said TSE. But a two point cushion at the end of day three was enough to give them the Championship in front of the Hong Kong 470 crew of Cheung Ka HO and Tong Ping SHUN.

It was tight scoring at the top of the Optimist fleet, with LEUNG taking the title away from SAKAI by a single point, and Yann CUDENNEC (HKG) only three points behind that.

It is evident that the amount of work put in by the Hong Kong Youth Squad over the last few months is paying off. It is only a shame that the visitor turnout for Hong Kong's premier dinghy regatta was not bigger.

Guy NOWELL/Sail World Asia (As Amended By ISAF). Image, 420 winners Isamu SAKAI and Bryan TSE:© Guy NOWELL
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