A little bit of luck will be needed to win one of the 'most challenging' offshore races in the world, says defending champion Neil Pryde, whose boat HiFi will once again be among the favourites in the biennial Rolex China Sea Race, which starts today.
Pryde (pictured), who first took part in this race in 1968, six years after it began, won line honours in 2008 and 2010 as well as overall honours two years ago. He says one has to be in the right place at the right time for the dash from Hong Kong to Subic Bay in the Philippines.
'Firstly, it is one of the most challenging events in the world. Competitors leave Hong Kong in relatively strong winds but as you get near the coast of the Philippines, winds lighten and become variable and the real challenge is getting to the finish in the best possible shape, and part of this is luck because you need to arrive at the right time of the day,' Pryde said.
'The weather will be our biggest challenge. We really need to be on top of this, both in reading the wind strengths and directions as well as the timing of weather changes.
'It is always a great ocean race when you start in a cooler climate and end up in a place like the Philippines that is warm and sunny and extremely hospitable.'
A total of 26 boats, including three challengers from Australia, Singapore and the Philippines, will take part in the 565-nautical mile blue-water classic which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Pryde, who has competed in so many editions he has lost count, is keen to win in this golden anniversary year.
'Fifty years is quite a record and I would like to win. We won it in 2010 as well as taking line honours and I would like to repeat this. We will certainly be trying,' he said.
The entries include the classes of IRC Racing, Premier Cruising, Cruising and HKPN. The IRC Racing class has been divided into three divisions while the biggest division is Cruising with eight entries.