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RHKYC Taiwan Strait Race : Orient Express crossed the line at Kaohsiung at 21:13:33hrs

04June2012_RHKYC_Taiwan_Strait_RacePhoto by Guy Nowell/RHKYC

04-June-2012. Just under 57 hours after they set off from Hong Kong, Orient Express crossed the line at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, at the end of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s Taiwan Strait Race, a 350nm Category One Offshore Race across the South China Sea.

Clocking a finish time of 21:13:33hrs on Sunday night, she was followed several hours later by Surfdude at 01:21:50hrs and Polar Star III at 06:09:06hrs this morning, Monday.  On corrected time (based on their handicaps), Orient Express claims first place with Polar Star II second and Surf Dude third.

At the start at 1215hrs on Friday 1 June, the fleet was on port tack as they left Hong Kong due to the easterly wind and wave set which headed them; pushing them south and away from the rhumb line. Surfdude remained on a higher track after tacking onto star board much sooner after leaving Hong Kong waters than the other three boats.

The rest of the fleet then tacked onto starboard at around 2000hrs on the first night and beat into a short steep sea in order to gain height back towards the rhumb line. This made for a very bumpy, hard first night at sea.

The fleet then tacked back onto port collectively around sun rise on Saturday morning and remained on this tack for most of the day as the wind strengthened to force 6 and slowly backed to the NE.

The wind direction now allowed boats to sail on a close reach, rather than being close hauled which made life onboard slightly more comfortable, although the wave height increased. Throughout Saturday night and Sunday, the wind backed more to the NE but became stronger at force 6-7, freeing up the fleet in order to make better progress towards the rhumb line and finish.

By Sunday evening the wind was on the beam allowing for faster sailing, allowing Orient Express to take line honours in Kaohsiung - with additional crew member on board, a pigeon that had landed on the yacht some nine hours earlier.

Orient Express crew member Gaston Chan described their race as “very exciting” and has never experienced an offshore race like that before.  “We congratulate Iris [Iris Yang, RHKYC Assistant Sailing Manager] on winning her first attempt at an offshore race.” he added.

Meanwhile the 11 crew rescued from Tipsy Frenz are en route to Manila on the Hong Kong flagged cargo ship “Easy Success” which picked them up about an hour and a half after the crew abandoned ship when their yacht, Tipsy Frenz, suddenly began to take in water in the early hours of Sunday.

Speaking from Easy Success earlier today, Tipsy Frenz skipper Leon Chan described the events that led to their rescue: “at around 0230/0240hrs on Sunday we were still racing and everything was fine.  We were on a heading of 80-90 degrees to Kaohsiung, Taiwan.  We had a northeasterly wind of 25 knots and waves of 2-3 metres.   All of a sudden one of the crew members reported that there a lot of water on the floor board.  I went down to inspect the situation and within one or two minutes the water was up to my knees as it was coming in so fast.  We got the crew on deck and slowed the boat down, lowering the sails etc.  We set off the EPIRB and contacted the RHKYC Sailing Office.  Two life rafts were deployed; and the entire crew was calm as we practically walked onto the life rafts.  We cut the lines connecting us to Tipsy Frenz and within a few minutes she was gone.  We drifted for about an hour and a half before being picked up by Easy Success who was in the vicinity having diverted course due to a potential typhoon.  We are all well and happy on board and are being treated well.  There were no injuries.  Throughout the ordeal everyone was calm and although we are all amateur sailors, we all acted like professionals.  We have benefitted from many years of survival at sea training.”

The crew of Tipsy Frenz are expected in Manila on Tuesday morning and back in Hong Kong on Tuesday night.

The event is sailed under ISAF (International Sailing Federation) Category 1 Offshore regulations which require at least 30% of the crew to have completed a sea survival course and first aid training.  In the case of Tipsy Frenz, six of the eleven crew have had sea survival training and in addition several of the crew are medical professionals.

The Taiwan Strait Race 2012 is organised and conducted by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYC) with assistance and support from Kaohsiung Sailing Association (KSA) and the Chinese Taipei Sailing Association (CTSA).