As of today's entry deadline, a total of 23 entries have been received to date for the Rolex China Sea Race, which starts in Hong Kong on Thursday 20 March 2008.
Several more yachts are expected by the late entry deadline of 12 March. The biennial 565-nautical mile race, organized by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club with Manila Yacht Club and run under the auspices of the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), is considered to be the ultimate Asian blue-water offshore sailing event. The 24th China Sea Race will finish in Subic Bay, northwest of Manila, the Philippines.
"Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club is proud to welcome Rolex as the sponsor of this classic Asian blue-water race,"
commented RHKYC Commodore, Harald Dudok VAN HEEL. "The race has been contested biennially since 1962 as one of the Club's flagship events, and we look forward to a spectacular start in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour on 20 March."
The list of competitors includes a combination of returning race veterans, for whom the race is a "must do" on the racing calendar, as well as combinations of boats and skippers not previously seen in the race, and with 18 boats entered thus far under IRC handicap, the competition promises to be fierce.
Overseas entries will include the Fidel/Echauz's Sydney 46, Subic Centennial from the Manila Yacht Club, together with Australian Geoff Hill's TP 52, Strewth, looking forward to her first offshore outing in the IRC Racing Division.
Strewth will face stiff competition from the 2006 winner, the Kinmonth/ Burns-owned Fortis Mandrake, with Sam CHAN's TP 52, FfreeFire 52 and Neil PRYDE's extensively refit Farr 52, Hi Fi, also promising a close race. Chris MEADS' new Corby 43, Full Metal Jacket may be a dark horse, making her offshore debut in the first Asian sailing event to be sponsored by Rolex.
Many of these boats have been actively competing this season on the Asian yachting circuit and are bringing ongoing rivalries to the mix. This offshore race often proves tactically challenging as navigators and crews try to pick the optimum route across the South China Sea. The breeze can typically be heavy leaving Hong Kong, but once the yachts head southeasterly across the sea, it's a question of staying in the breeze, which can often go light approaching the Philippine coast and the finish.
Boats must be a minimum of 10 m overall (LOA) to compete. There will be four divisions: IRC Racing, IRC Premier Cruising, Performance Handicap, and Cruising. Multihulls will be automatically entered in the Performance Handicap division.
The 2008 Rolex China Sea Race will continue to offer shore-based fans the opportunity to follow the action online (www.rolexchinasearace.com
) using PurpleFinder technology to provide satellite-based positional data from each boat, which will be updated every two hours during the race.
The China Sea Race was first run in 1962, and it has been held every two years since then. In 1972 it was officially recognised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club. Since then it has continued to attract increased interest and served to draw the attention of the international yachting fraternity to Hong Kong and Southeast Asia.
The Rolex China Sea Race joins other prestigious Rolex-sponsored 2008 events including the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Rolex Swan Cup, Rolex Middle Sea Race, and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
Rolex China Sea Race - www.rolexchinasearace.com