Monday, January 11, 2016

2015 Hong Kong J/80 Class Championships

On November 29 and 30, 2015, the J/80 Fleet in Hong Kong hosted its Class Championship. 17 boats participated in the event, including 2 highly qualified overseas teams from China. The first day of the regatta saw the fleet compete in 17-20 knots of breeze and 1.5 to 2m seas. Barry Hayes, skippering UK Sailmakers made it pretty clear that he was coming for a win! After winning the first 2 races, he finished 2nd on the third race of the day.  Rory Godman, skippering Javelin, was coming back strong in the last 2 races of the day after struggling on the first 2 races. The rest of the fleet was battling hard to stay close to the leaders and at the end of the first day, a strong group of 10 boats were in a position to grab a spot on the podium.

The second day of the race saw the boats compete in a very different environment: 8-12 knots of breeze and a relatively flat sea. Barry and his very talented team comprising top Chinese sailors Horace Chen Jin Hao from the DongFeng VOR team,  Edmond Zhang Meng Yuan and Xing Wei Wei struggled at first to adapt to these moderate conditions and finished 9th on the first 2 races of Day 2. But they came in with two bullets on the final races of the day to win the Championship on countback, just ahead of Javelin (Rory Godman) who secured 2nd place on the podium.

After a very promising first day, an overseas team from China skippered by Samuel Shen and chartering Frank Pong's Jelik 6, had to retire on the second day due to a technical issue. Nonetheless, based on their strong performance on the first day, they promised to come back next year in the hunt for a podium spot.

The race for the owner/driver title was very open and the battle was hard fought by several contenders until the final race finished and the winner was determined.  Akira Sakai on Jailbreaker won the title, followed by Ben Bulmer on Jasmine and Andrew Moore on Tigrina. The presence of overseas teams was very welcome and the Hong Kong J80 fleet will continue to welcome international competitors to this annual event. The event is usually held in November which typically offers optimal sailing conditions with East-North Easterly breezes of between 12 and 18 knots, a light swell and clear blue skies.  Add in the local hospitality and the stunning location and facilities of the host yacht club (the event is organized by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, one of the oldest sailing clubs in Asia with a history dating back as far as 1890), it is no wonder this event is growing in popularity. The full results can be obtained here: