BY APB Staff on 7 May 2020

RHKYC Commodore John Woo says the club is hopeful to extend its partnership with Rolex, as restrictions slowly lift

Yacht clubs and regatta organisers around the world have faced restrictions meant to contain the spread of the Covid-19 disease, resulting in disruptions to racing calendars. Yet, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYC), Asia’s biggest regatta organiser, continues to chart a course for the coming 2020-2021 racing season and the years beyond.

“We have finished discussing our (regatta) calendar. Now the calendar from September 2020 to end of May 2021 has been set in stone,” says RHKYC Commodore John Woo in a recent interview with Asia-Pacific Boating. “We just expect business as normal.” Woo acknowledged that changes could still take place as the situation evolves, but says he is confident that racing will proceed.

The club is in discussions with Rolex to continue sponsorship of the Rolex China Sea Race beyond 2022. “They still want to keep the energy on the sailing side,” Woo says. “It’s quite promising; I think they really want to continue the partnership.”

Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club Looks To 2020 21 Season

Woo said the club is hopeful to extend its partnership with Rolex to the club’s other major races, such as the Hong Kong to Vietnam Race or the Around the Island Race.

The next Hong Kong to Vienam Race is scheduled for October 2021, and features a 673 nautical mile passage to Nha Trang, Vietnam. It will be the tenth edition of the race, which is currently the longest category 1 offshore race in Asia. 

The Around the Island Race takes place in late November, and though just a single day event on a 26-nautical mile course, it usually features more than 200 boats on the water. 

The club had to cancel races in the 2019-2020 season, and the Rolex China Sea Race, a 565-nautical mile, category 1 race from Hong Kong to Subic Bay, Philippines, was deferred to March 31, 2021, followed by the 2022 edition. The race from Hong Kong to Puerto Galera, Philippines, will be deferred to 2023. The last race staged by the club before the Hong Kong government instructed all clubs to be closed for sport and recreation was the regular Harbour Race on March 21. 

Woo says that the club has restarted on-water sail training courses so that members can build up their boating hours, though restrictions on groupings prevent coursework.

Woo also says the club wants to link itself more closely with clubs in China, particularly in the Greater Bay Area. An Inter-club Optimist Challenge for young sailors was to launch in 2019-2020, linking LongCheer Yacht Club and Seven Star Yacht Clubs in Shenzhen. This event was postponed due to the social unrest of 2019 and later the Covid-19 pandemic, but Woo remains optimistic it will go ahead.

The club has been reorienting itself more towards sailing and youth outreach in recent years. Woo says that the club has prioritised sailboats over motor yachts when allocating moorings and has enhanced ways for young people to get involved with sailing.

Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club Looks To 2020 21 Season 2
Photo courtesy: Rolex/Daniel Forster