Ffree Fire 52 skipper Sam Chan took advantage of a delay to the start of the San Fernando Race yesterday to effect some last-minute repairs before setting off with the rest of the fleet from Shek O to the Philippines.
The start was switched from Victoria Harbour to Shek O and delayed from noon to 1.45pm to take advantage of a 10-knot breeze southeast of Hong Kong Island.
Ffree Fire 52 appeared to be shipping water around the prop bearings and Chan's crew worked until the last possible moment to seal the leak before lowering the vessel into the water and heading for the start.
Spinnakers were a popular choice as the yachts set off on the 480 nautical mile race across the South China Sea.
The 30th biennial race had fewer competitors than in the past, but it raised a record HK$420,000 for an orphanage that many crew will be visiting once they cross the finish line in the Philippines.
There were 18 boats registered for this year's race, about 10 less than in 2005.
Many regular racers have been sold, such as Drumstick, Hocus Pocus 2 and Siren, while others are out for repairs.
Frank Pong is in Valencia, Spain, with ChinaTeam, Asia's first ever entry in the Louis Vuitton Cup, which leads up to the America's Cup.
However, Chan's new Ffree Fire 52 is expected to add some racing flair to the competition and the yacht Cordelia from Australia gives the fleet an international touch.