<I>"A downhill slide, full of gybes"</I> was how one crew member described the finale of 2003 China Coast Race Week which started at 1200hrs on Tuesday 4 November in Hong Kong and finished with line honours for Frank PONG'S "Jelik" in Sanya, Hainan.
Victory on corrected time, however, belonged to Sam Chan and his crew on "Ffree Fire" who finished just over 2 hours and 40 minutes behind ex-"Pyewacket" No.3. Clocking actual boat speeds of over 20 knots during bright, moonlit, overnight sailing, Sam opined that his win was down to "Great crew work" and preparation, stating that this was his "first winning race without breaking anything."
The fleet started in a promising 17 knots of wind, however "Jelik" was unable to crack Free Fire's record of 29hours, 55 minutes and 03 seconds which was set in the 2000 race, instead clocking 35:19:40 for the 355nm. The decision to take the inshore line on the way into Sanya cost "Jelik" dear as 'Ffree Fire" stayed further out on the water, but disappointment was tempered with the high induced by a great race.
Said Frank "There were highs from start to finish - we're still on a high, and debating how we could have done a little bit better in the race. Ffree Fire got a little bit better wind and is relatively faster in the lighter winds - ultimately, Pyewacket won the day!",
in reference to "Ffree Fire's" former existence as the first Pyewacket and "Jelik's" as the third.
Said local racing legend Karl Kwok, "Roy Disney must feel good to know two boats from his stable will have a few years of friendly rivalry on our side of the pond!"
Further back in the fleet, Marcel LEIDTS and Anthony DAY battled it out on "Hocux Pocux 2" and Siren respectively, with Marcel winning out on elapsed and corrected time. Both boats enjoyed the race, with Siren relieved to make it down to Sanya with her rig intact. "It was all about the people. The breeze may not have been as solid as the company or as consistent as the crew work but the ride was still and chill as …vodka and beluga caviar...."
Zephyr 2 and Polar Star III reached Sanya late on Thursday evening to complete a safe and successful race for the six boat fleet.
Full details are on the event website at the address below.