BY RHKYC on 29 Mar 2023

A highly competitive 2023 Rolex China Sea Race is shaping up, with former champions joining the fleet

A strong fleet boasting multiple international and previous winners is preparing to take on the 2023 Rolex China Sea Race.

Four entrants are travelling to Hong Kong, with three from the Philippines (Standard Insurance Centennial 3, Standard Insurance Centennial 5 and Hurricane Hunter) and one from Mainland China (Tong Ran).

Read: Rolex China Sea Race returns after a five-year absence

Ernesto Echauz’s Rachel Pugh 75 Standard Insurance Centennial 5 – photo courtesy RHKYC/Nikki Claringbold

Ernesto Echauz’s Rachel Pugh 75 Standard Insurance Centennial 5, will be taking part in the boat’s first Rolex China Sea Race. Echauz is no stranger to the Rolex China Sea Race, having participated in nine editions and his name twice engraved on the China Sea Race Trophy (1998 and 2008). This all-Filipino team consists of current and former Philippines National Sailing Team athletes, as well as sailors from the Philippine Navy, including women laser sailors Alaisa Belmonte and Paula Bombeo.

Ernesto Echauz is the founder of Centennial Sailing Team and claims a second entry under his team in TP52 Standard Insurance Centennial 3, helmed by Emerson Villena, who is returning for his fifth edition of the race. Villena looks to improve upon his team’s best previous result of 3rd IRC Overall in 2018.

TP52 Standard Insurance Centennial 3 during the 2018 Rolex China Sea Race – photo courtesy RHKYC / Daniel Forster

Albert Altura, also from the Philippines, will take part in his second Rolex China Sea Race. His first time was as a 19-year-old in 1986 racing on Sunset Strip, which placed 4th in the IOR division. Even as a young man, he set a personal goal to return to the event as owner/skipper. Albert Altura’s Beneteau First 40 CR Hurricane Hunter competed in the 50th Anniversary of the Rolex Middle Sea Race in 2018 before Covid hit. Once sailing resumed in the Philippines, he competed in the 135nm race Nasugbu to Busuanga Race in March 2022.

Tong Ran in competition at the 2018 Rolex China Sea Race – photo courtesy RHKYC / Daniel Forster

The Dufour 500 Tong Ran from Guangzhou Nansha Sailing Club is returning for their second Rolex China Sea Race. Despite their racing schedule having been disrupted by Covid, Tong Ran has been participating in long-distance races, taking IRC 1st overall in the 2020 China Super Yacht Race, the only World Sailing Cat 1 Offshore Race organised in Mainland China, with several crew members also having participated in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and Clipper Round the World Race. Jiaqi Wu, owner of Tong Ran said: “Finally, no more quarantine in China. We feel great to come to Hong Kong and enjoy the world’s premier offshore sailing race.”

SHK Scallywag Fuku Orma 60 Trimaran – photo courtesy RHKYC / Guy Nowell

Also joining the impressive line of yachts partaking in this year’s event will be Meitatsu Fukumoto and Seng Huang Lee’s SHK Scallywag Fuku. Sailing under the Hong Kong flag, she is set to join her first edition of the Rolex China Sea Race.

Read: Hong Kong’s Team Scallywag to reveal foiling trimaran

The ORMA 60 trimaran broke the multihull record in their first attempt of the 2019 edition of the Club’s offshore race from Hong Kong to Vietnam, and the team will attempt to challenge the Rolex China Sea Race multihull record, which was set by Karl Kwok on his MOD Beau Geste with an elapsed time of 38h 30m 07s in 2018.

The 2023 Rolex China Sea Race starts April 5.