Strong winds send Stormvogel towards historic win
By BRUCE MACDONALD
SOUTH African-built ketch Stormvogel was last night powering to a China Sea Race record in a 14-knot north, northeasterly breeze which has held since the start of the race off Lamma Island on Thursday.
At last night's position report Stormvogel had averaged an amazing 8.8 knots which, if she maintained that rate, would see her finish this afternoon - as much as nine hours under American maxi Nirvana's race record of 79 hours, 23 minutes and 13 seconds, set in the 1984 edition of the bluewater classic.
Stormvogel remains firmly on course for a unique double - the 73-foot ketch first took line honours in the China Sea Race back in 1966 when owned and skippered by legendary Dutchman, Cornelius Bruynzeel.
Shadowing Stormvogel across the South China Sea to the Philippine capital of Manila, is Frank Pong's new Whitbread 40, Millennium, which last night lay 23 miles astern.
Millennium lost 10 miles to Stormvogel during the previous 24 hours.
Philippine entry, the Beneteau 51, Vida, was continuing her outstanding progress to stand third on the water and first on corrected time under CHS.
She trailed Millennium by about 20 miles according to yesterday's position report in a group including Bimblegumbie and J-Hawk.
Fears that Tropical Depression Owen which is lying off the east coast of the Philippines could play havoc with the 44-strong fleet are remote, according to race organisers.
''We have been in constant contact with the weather bureau and at this stage Owen is having no influence on the race. If there are any developments all the competitors will be notified immediately,'' a race official stressed last night.
HMS Plover which has been shadowing the race since the start, steamed from the tail to the front of the fleet yesterday to monitor progress.
Race official Mike Sinfield reported that all competitors were making good headway under kite and Stormvogel was doing as much as 10 knots.
While Stormvogel, Millennium and Vida could theoretically finish under the race record cut-off time of 11 pm, the notoriously fickle Philippine coastal winds may slow their progress.
The race has been outstanding for the five-strong contingent of Manila-based boats with Vida leading the way.
Second to Vida on corrected time in CHS is another Filipino entry, the Macintosh 47, Kalayaan II, followed by a gaggle of Hong Kong yachts headed by the Banner 41, Intrigue, the J-44, J-Hawk, and the IMX38, Wizard.
Dr Y. K. Szeto's Warr 46, Tipsy Too, which features an all-Chinese crew continues to dominate the PYS Division.
Tipsy Too leads from the Concept 44, Tomoe 5 and the Tatana 52, Tehani.
The front-runners should close the Philippine coast south of San Fernando on the island of Luzon overnight.
and be well positioned to pick up the early-morning breeze for the run down the coast to Manila Bay and the finish line off the Manila Yacht Club.