Rolex China Sea Race 2024 off to a powerful start

The morning started with a 10 to 12 knots north easterly breeze that signals an exciting start to the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s Rolex China Sea Race 2024. With 21 boats at the starting line at Victoria Harbour, this year’s competition is off to an exciting start

Start of race. Rolex / Andrea Francolini

All 21 boats got off to a clean start yesterday at 11:20 am in the stunning Hong Kong Victoria Harbour. A lion dance spectacle commenced the day before the start at RHKYC’s Kellet Island Clubhouse to wish competitors a safe journey across the ever-challenging South China Sea.

Dockside race start Lion dance at East Pontoon. Rolex / Andrea Francolini

Three of the top contenders in IRC Racer 0 Class, R/P 75 Standard Insurance Centennial V, along with two TP52s; Happy Go and Standard Insurance Centennial III were in a close tussle at the start line but it was Nie Hua’s Happy Go which hit the line first at full pace at the sound of the horn.  She led the fleet up to Kai Tak from where larger rival Standard Insurance Centennial V overtook her.

First through the Lei Yue Mun Gap (the narrowest part between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon) was R/P 75 Standard Insurance Centennial V, helmed by two-time China Sea Race Overall winner Ernesto Echauz. They were followed shortly after by TP52s Happy Go and Standard Insurance Centennial III.

Hong Kong’s Zoe. Rolex / Andrea Francolini

After the fleet passed the sheltered harbour, they were greeted by big swells of up to 2.5m.  Soon Zoe was the first retirement of the Race.

Of the six international entries, two Filipino boats are in the leading pack.  Mainland of China entries, Seawolf and Tong Ran, are looking good in the early stages and the same goes for the first-ever Chinese Taipei entry, Mondher Latiri’s Gutsy and the first-ever Korean entry, Hojun Song’s Random().

Random() from South Korea. Rolex / Andrea Francolini

As of 1600hrs, Happy Go is at the front of the fleet travelling along at around 8.6kts, followed by the two Standard Insurance team boats, Centennial V and Centennial III.

As the competitors make their 565nm journey across the South China Sea to Subic Bay, they will enjoy the first night reaching down towards the Philippines.  A southerly airstream is forecast to fill in by Thursday so the fleet will be beating upwind towards the Philippines.

Start of race Fleet. Rolex / Andrea Francolini

2024 marks the 62nd anniversary of this world-renowned blue water classic.  This flagship event is organised by the cosmopolitan Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, one of the oldest and most prestigious clubs in Hong Kong.  Rolex has been a partner of the Club since 2007 and Title Sponsor of its flagship Race since 2008.

There are two main prizes at the Rolex China Sea Race. The most coveted is the Rolex China Sea Race Trophy for the IRC Overall winner on corrected time (handicap). The first boat to cross the finish line in real time (Line Honours) receives the Sunday Telegraph Trophy. A Rolex timepiece will be awarded to the first boat under IRC Overall handicap and first Monohull Line Honours.

Also see: Taylor Fritz on partnering with Rolex and life on and off the court

In this Story: #watches & #jewellery