Two races were completed on day one of the Flying Fifteen World Championship in Hong Kong with Graham Vials starting a perfect defence of his title.
With typhoon Krosa meandering east to west below the coast of China and threatening to disrupt the sailing programme for the worlds, Race Officer Jerry Rollin wasted no time today in informing competitors that his intention was to try and fit in two races if at all possible, as an insurance against the possible postponement of Sunday's racing in the event of a T3 being raised.
The Nationals were designed to acclimatise overseas sailors to Lamma conditions, however after four days of racing with a pleasant easterly and barely any swell, Saturday's conditions reflected the imminent typhoon giving a NNE breeze and a 3m swell which set a completely different test for sailors and boats.
Having learned lessons from the Nationals, the 51-strong fleet was circumspect at the start of Race 1 and no recalls were required. A sign of a well laid course is whether the boats split evenly up the left and right and, in spite of the Hong Kong mantra 'go left at Lamma' the fleet was pretty much split 50/50 for the first leg, El Toro
taking 15 minutes to round, ahead of Foof
and Aussie Falcon
. At the end of the first spinnaker run, Steve Goacher had moved up into third behind Alderson and Vials ahead of a procession of Fifteens and these places stayed static for another lap until Foof moved into the lead with Nick and Janet Jerwood moving up into fourth.
The conditions took their toll with one dismasting, one broken spinnaker pole, one broken vang and a MOB resulting in only 46 boats making the start line for Race 2. With conditions picking up, together with four damaged boats, Vamoose
decided to call it a day in order to preserve the 50 year-old timber classic for the remainder of the regatta. Rollins looked at the deteriorating conditions and gave the remaining fleet a quick restart in 22kts gusting to 25 - once again, they recorded a clean start and racing was underway.
This time it was David Lavery on Afloat.ie
who took the early lead to the top mark, followed by El Toro
. Lavery maintained his advantage on the downwind leg, only to be passed by El Toro and Foof at the next windward mark.
By the end of the second lap, Foof led through the gate with El Toro and Afloat.ie in her wake, with Alan Bax and the Jerwoods battling it out behind with the final results showing Bax finishing fourth, 20 seconds ahead of Ineffable.
The gap between the top ten boats is averaging three minutes over a 75 minute race, so this is shaping up to be an extremely competitive series, with Graham Vials starting a perfect defence of his title.
Full results with elapsed times can be seen at the event website here
Tracking of a selection of the top performing boats can be viewed here