Calm after the storm for San Fernando race finishers
From BRUCE MACDONALD in San Fernando
THE ninth edition of the Dunhill San Fernando race ended yesterday in stark contrast to how it began in Hongkong last Wednesday, when 30-knot winds lashed the fleet dismasting two boats and forcing others to retire with gear failure and shredded sails.
The last of the stragglers crossed the line late last night in ghostly calm conditions with many competitors complaining of being becalmed for hours on end.
The big boats dominated all divisions on corrected time after taking full advantage of the strong winds during the first two days of the race.
Richard Strompf's 51-footer X-Rated, a Jeppesen-designed boat, took line honours in two days, 10 hours and seven minutes - eight hours outside the race record set in 1991 by Whitbread Round the World racer Rothmans.
Second across the line was Nigel Stevens' 68-footer Mandalay followed by Frank Pong's Castro-designed 40-footer Jelik.
X-Rated also took top honours in the IMS (International Measurement System) and CHS (Channel Handicap System) categories and was only denied by Mandalay and Jelik of also winning on corrected time in Portsmouth Yard Stick (PYS). The race took a heavy tollon gear and sails with most crews reporting long lists of damages.
Peter Goode and his crew aboard the tiny Hustler 30, Shogun II broke the domination of the big craft by finishing eighth overall on PYS, an outstanding performance in demanding conditions.
The two Filipino craft in the 46-strong fleet which completed the race also performed well.
Kalayan II, a McIntosh 47, and Tara, a Farr 36, finished second and fifth respectively in the performance IMS division. Kalayan II capped an outstanding showing by also finishing fourth in CHS and PYS on corrected times.
Doctor Ian Nicholson and his crew aboard the speedy Banner 41 Intrigue had a disappointing race by their own high standards, finishing third on IMS, sixth on CHS and 13th on PYS.
But they finished in stunning fashion and had race finish officer Brian Renwick distinctly worried.
Renwick says: ''When I saw Intrigue approach the line there wasn't a soul on deck or in the cockpit.
''I had no idea what was going on but after they had travelled 500 metres past the finish they all scrambled aboard deck and cheered. I thought we had a Marie Celeste on our hands.'' Stevens and the crew of Mandaly were on the receiving end of some good natured barbs when it was revealed why the boat's steering cable snapped on the second day out, forcing them to use an emergency tiller.
A stacked crate of beer rubbing against the steering cable was the cause of the breakage.
The crew of Fistral were forced to motor in the latter stages of the race when a female diabetic aboard became seriously ill. She was taken to hospital immediately after the race for observation.
The series winds up this afternoon with a prize presentation on the beach at the China Sea Resort.