Ingvall seen as threat to Wharington record
Grant Wharington's seven-year-old record will be at risk when the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club's VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race gets under way today.
The Singapore-based raider, Audi Ultra, is expected to take line honours and smash Wharington's old time of 42 hours 45 minutes and 41 seconds under two-time world champion Ludde Ingvall.
The Finnish-born Australia resident is confident of setting a new time in the Super Maxi. But he has warned that he should not be expected to top the podium after IRC handicaps have been applied to the finish times unless he and his crew have an exceptional race.
'That will only happen if our crew work is good enough and we do not make any mistakes, especially as the smaller boats are a lot more agile and generally easier to sail,' said Ingvall.
His pre-race predictions seemed to hold water after the outcome of the China Coast Regatta last weekend, where top Hong Kong sailor Neil Pryde and Hi Fi, his modified Welbourne 52, grabbed the IRC Racing Division 0 honours with four first-placed finishes from seven races.
Another boat which will take part in the 656-nautical mile dash from Hong Kong to Nha Trang, is the EFG Bank Mandrake, owned jointly by Nick Burns and Fred Kinmonth, which won the IRC Racing Division 1 category with five top-place finishes.
Postponed from last year due to the proximity of Super Typhoon Megi, the Hong Kong to Vietnam Race will start just past noon today.
Nine boats - Audi Ultra, Freefire, Hi Fi, Zanzibar, Ambush, EFG Bank Mandrake, Sell Side Dream, Cutting Edge and El Oro - will take part in the event, which is also a qualifying race for the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race later this year.
Pryde is looking for another offshore win with his well-drilled crew, while Sam Chan is back again with his latest TP52, Freefire. From Singapore, Jonathan Mahoney on Humphreys 42 Zanzibar is participating for the first time.
Audi Ultra is hot favourite to take line honours, though multiple Sydney to Hobart winner Ingvall believes a bit of luck - perfect weather conditions - and a faultless race will be key factors if they are to break Wharington's 2004 record on Skandia Wild Thing.