Published: Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Ragamuffin 90 has won line honours at the 2014 Rolex China Sea Race having led the entire 565-nm race from the start in Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong to the finish in Subic Bay, The Philippines. Syd Fischer’s 90-ft Maxi finished the race at 22:51.18 local time, completing the course in 57 hours, 31 minutes and 18 seconds.

The course record remains the 47 hours, 43 minutes and 7 seconds set by Karl Kwok and Beau Geste in 2000.

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The second major prize was decided in Subic Bay at 11.07am on Saturday, April 19, as Neil Pryde’s Hi Fi held Bryon Ehrhart’s TP52 Lucky to a two minute lead on the water, to ensure that Pryde’s Welbourne 52 collected the coveted IRC Overall title for the second time in four years.

Unaware of his triumph, as there were boats still racing which could have potentially beaten his handicap corrected time, Pryde was delighted with their race, saying that it was a “Fantastic race, probably the best we’ve ever had. We were in pressure most of the way apart from a couple of very light hours this morning, other than that, we kept moving all the time.”

Ehrhart was equally enthusiastic, claiming that this year’s Rolex China Sea Race was “The classic we were promised. It was great the whole way with great competition as expected. We don’t know how it all shakes out (regarding IRC) but we had a great race and lots of fun. There was very strong competition from the TP52’s and the Santa Cruz and the Welbourne 52, I don’t think we lost sight of them for the whole race.”

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Geoff Hill of Antipodes echoed those sentiments saying “ It was fantastic that you could start with four boats (in Hong Kong) and finish with those four boats within 1nm of each other – that’s champagne sailing!”

The IRC Racer 0 boats certainly made light of the pre-race forecast, with Ernesto Echauz, bringing home Standard Insurance Centennial mid-afternoon, commenting that his race highlight was that “In 20 years of CSR, this is the fastest we have done the race (including the record setting year of 2000), and even though we finished last on the water in [our] division, it was a very fast race – unbelievable that we only stopped for a short time near the finish boat.”

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As the rest of the fleet made it to the finish line; Talkinghead (00:15:58), Clove Hitch (00:16:46), Ex Libris (00:34:23), Darling (02:01:45) and Dearg Doom (06:02:28), it became that the last boat home would be Allegro, which was 22nm behind Wonderwall (08:45:40). Later that morning Allegro called in to say that she had retired.

Meanwhile, the crew of Wonderwall had become very attached to their ‘Hong Kong hitchhiker’, a bundle of rope and fishing net that caused them to stop and send a man over the side with a bread knife shortly after leaving Hong Kong, inviting it to join them all the way to the finish.

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