Front runner due in tonight
The race to the finish is heating up for the 2012 Rolex China Sea Race. Current fleet leader, Geoff Hill’s Genuine Risk, is currently (1700 UTC +8) 106.9nm from the finish and is expected to arrive in Subic Bay around 0038 this evening. The team is sailing 14 knots, on track to take the Sunday Telegraph Trophy for Line Honours and a Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece.
Singapore entry Zanzibar made gains overnight and is currently (1700 hrs, UTC +8) sitting first overall on corrected time, although the lead is changing regularly between EFG Bank Mandrake, Red Kite II and Hi Fi. The final outcome will depend on the best tactics for approaching what are typically tricky conditions at the Filipino coast.
“Looking at the offshore weather for today, one can see that the predicted high pressure zone that normally sits over central China is re-establishing itself and that the pressure gradient is producing east-northeast wind,” said RHKYC Sailing Manager Alex Johnston, “which is going to be great for the race fleet as they head down the track towards Subic Bay. The wind will be on the beam, or just after the beam, which is a great point of sail, and so the boats, after a fairly frustrating day yesterday, will certainly be starting to accelerate. The back of the fleet will benefit first from the wind while the front of the fleet will unfortunately get it last. The advantage is that for the front of the fleet the wind will be further after the beam and therefore will hopefully produce slightly faster boat speed… although not necessarily much wind speed. The boats with asymmetric sails – Genuine Risk, the TP52s and the Hot 40s, like Ambush and Sell Side Dream – will be loving these conditions.”
Frederick Peter Churchouse on Moonblue 2 gave a rundown on current (1700 hrs, UTC +8) conditions: “We’ve got some wind at last for the first time during the race. It’s blowing about 12-13 knots with beautiful conditions; flat sea and the sun is shining. According to the radio scheds there are certainly a lot of boats within 10 or 15 miles of us, not quite within viewing distance, but we were close to Redeye this morning. Given that we had such bad winds the first 36-40 hours, and if this wind keeps up, at the very earliest we could arrive late on Saturday night or early Sunday morning, but there’s still a long way to go and the weather forecasts still show some patches of very light air.”