Neil Pryde's Hi Fi (HKG) held off several strong challenges from two TP52s for the IRC Overall win in the 2010 Rolex China Sea Race having already clinched the Line Honours win.
Hi Fi, which also took IRC Racing A division, held off rival Ray Roberts' Evolution Racing by less than two hours. Roberts said that Evolution 'parked up' two times on the first night and lost about 12 miles to Hi Fi. For the rest of the way down the track the boats would close up and then spread apart again. Several hours behind Evolution, and keeping the pressure on all the way, was Geoff Hill's Strewth (AUS), which was third overall.
Pryde was presented with a Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece for his IRC Overall win, which he generously handed over to Hi Fi crew member Kevin Costin (Kos), who has managed Pryde's racing programme for the past 13 years.
Kos prepared Hi Fi for the Rolex China Sea Race in 2008, but had to return to Australia for a prior racing commitment - and Hi Fi went on to win Line Honours. So this time Pryde said if they won again, he'd give Kos the watch. Kos said, "It was his threat, the whole race he had a photo of Hi Fi crossing the finish line from last time in the cockpit."
Ernest Echauz' Subic Centennial (PHI) won IRC Racing B division, holding off a strong challenge from the Mills 41 Ambush. Echauz sailed as navigator this year, with Vince Perez as skipper. While Subic is the only Philippine entry in the race, Echauz is not just a local favourite, but also highly respected among other competitors for his efforts promoting youth sailing as President of the Philippine Sailing Association. Echauz always includes young sailors in his crew for both offshore races and around the buoys, providing them with some great training under the coaching of Australian Jamie Wilmot.
Echauz revels in this race, which finishes in his home waters. About the conditions this year, he said, "It was very unique in that there were very light winds on the first day, and strong winds on Friday afternoon and Saturday. It was exciting in the sense that you have to prepare your route and where you're going to have your landfall. It paid off in that we were more east compared to the others in our division, so we were able to get the land breeze earlier."
This race, Echauz traded skippering duties with Vince Perez who was co-skipper with him in the 2008 Rolex China Sea Race, when Subic Centennial won IRC Overall. Perez said, "Having won last time, the pressure was for us to come back, but we were downplaying our expectations by saying 'let's just have a relaxing voyage'. We enjoyed two full days of good winds and we thought we'd have the hometown advantage knowing the local land breeze, perhaps we arrived just a little bit late coming in!"
In IRC Racing C, it was Anthony Root's Red Kite II that prevailed. Talking about the 2009 San Fernando Race (the boat won IRC Racing), Root said, "Last year we beat our bodies, this year we beat our brains - this was a very tactical race.
Jon Wardill's Australian Maid (AUS) won IRC Premier Cruising. This was Wardill's fourth race on Australian Maid - a boat he allowed, "is an old, wooden boat, but still competitive. Long-distance passage racing is where she traditionally does her best."
An informal dockside presentation took place at the Subic Bay Yacht Club for the 1st - 3rd place finishers, in each division. The official Rolex China Sea Race prizegiving will be held on Wednesday 14 April at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club branch at Kellet Island, Hong Kong.
This year is the 25th edition of the Rolex China Sea Race, which was first run in 1962, and has been held every two years since then. The 565 nautical mile race runs from the start in Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong to Subic Bay, Philippines. In 1972, it was officially recognised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, and is now run under their prescriptions. The race has continued to attract increased interest and serves to draw the international yachting fraternity to Hong Kong and Southeast Asia.
The Rolex China Sea Race joins other prestigious Rolex sponsored events including the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Rolex Swan Cup, Rolex Middle Sea Race and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
For more information about the Rolex China Sea Race 2010, including results, please visit www.rhkyc.org.hk/rolexchinasearace