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Around Alone: Etchells ATI Solo

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia 5 Jul 08:15 BST 02 July 2020
Jamie McWilliam, Ap Lei Chau beacon. Hong Kong ATI Solo 2020. © Guy Nowell

A circumnavigation of Hong Kong is a shade over 23nm. There’s an Around the Island Race every year in Hong Kong, when something like 200 boats turn out, many of them for what is their only race of the year. This time it was eight Etchells, six of them single-handed, two sailing two-up.

Rather like the recent inaugural event of the Hong Kong Short Handed Sailing Association which involved 26 boats that just happened to be sailing in the same direction, this was not so much an event as a ‘happening’, involving no complicated organisation and precious little formality apart from a safety boat to play sheepdog for the day. Woof, woof!

Start: 11.30h in front of the RHKYC clubhouse in Causeway Bay. Mark Thornburrow led the fleet off the line, making the most of an outgoing tide to show everyone else the way out of the harbour at Lei Yue Mun, and then extended all the way to the finish. There were strong challenges from Jamie McWilliam and Fred Kinmonth at various stages of the course, although as Fred said later “a spinnaker does help downwind, doesn’t it?”

It was a beautiful day – sunshine and blue skies, minimal traffic in the Lamma Channel, and a lifting breeze all the way round the track. Thornburrow claimed that he gybed once in the entire race. The wind got pretty funky in the harbour, from Green Island to the finish, allowing some position shifts in the final stages of the race. 4 hrs 10 min of steady sailing gave the yet-to-be-awarded ATI Etchells Solo trophy to Mark Thornburrow, followed by Christoph and Anna Michalski a whole 25 mins later, sneaking in just ahead of Jamie McWilliam. James Dagge started the dock party early, crossing the line in style with a cold beverage in hand.

All in all, this was a great little event. Minimal hoo-hah, minimal organisation. If you stick to OD boats then there is no need for persnickety timing, and if you do it in July you can go all the way in a southerly! Let’s do it again! Dragons, Flying 15s, where are you?

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