Published: Monday, 12 December 2016

The San Fernando Race will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2017. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYC) issued the Notice of Race and online registration for the race is open. The biennially-held 480nm Category 1 Offshore race, under the auspices of RORC, will start on Apr 12 in Hong Kong and head to the Philippines. 

Registrations Opens For San Fernando Race

(Photos: Guy Nowell / RHKYC - San Fernando Race 2015) 

It attracts many competitors from Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Around 35 boats will compete under IRC (or performance handicaps), with the fleet pushing to smash the 2001 monohull record of 49h 55m 12s set by Sam Chan’s 71ft ULBD Sled FreeFire

The race starts from the ‘Club Line’ off the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s Kellett Island headquarters in Victoria Harbour. The fleet is then taken past Waglan Island and towards the northern Philippines. The 2017 edition of the San Fernando race may have the competitors face seasonal northeasterly winds as they leave Hong Kong. 

Registrations Opens For San Fernando Race 3

The first San Fernando Race came about when a group of sailors decided it was a shame to spend time and money preparing a yacht for the China Sea Race and then have to wait two years before sailing to the Philippines again.

“I remember asking why we didn’t race to the Philippines every year and being told that the wives wouldn’t like it,” recalled the late Vic Locke, who took part in the first Luzon Race in his S&S 34 Doonaree. “Some of us, however, did not have such restrictions and liked going to the Philippines, but not necessarily Manila. San Fernando offered a very good anchorage, and customs and immigration facilities. It was also totally different in atmosphere from Manila.”

Six yachts sailed the rough passage to the Philippines in the 1977 race and raced from San Fernando to Hong Kong. Berry Byrne on board Drogheda claimed the title in that edition.

Registrations Opens For San Fernando Race 2

Sir Robin Knox-Johnson, the first man to perform a single-handed non-stop circumnavigation of the globe in 1969 and also the oldest yachtsman at age 67 to complete an around the world solo voyage in 2006, sailed in the San Fernando Race in 1989, 1995 and returned to fire the start gun for the 1999 edition. His fleet of eight Clipper boats also took part in the 2001 race as one of their legs in their around the world yacht race.

Lawrie Smith’s Maxi Rothmans, which was built for the 1989/90 Whitbread Around the World Race took part in 1991 taking line honours in 2d 2h 2m.

Fundraising events including a dinner and charity auction for the San Fernando Foundation, which provides support to a local children’s home, will also be held in the lead up to the race.