BY RHKYC on 11 Apr 2023

History is made as Standard Insurance Centennial 5 becomes the first Philippine yacht to claim Line Honours in the Rolex China Sea Race and Whiskey Jack claims IRC Overall win

With 16 boats finishing the 2023 Rolex China Sea Race, provisional results (as of April 10, 2023) show Nick Southward’s Whiskey Jack lifting the China Sea Trophy for corrected time on IRC handicap, with Philippe and Cosmas Grelon’s Simpson Marine posting a second overall and Andew Pidden’s Juice in third.

Whiskey Jack, a J-109, takes overall win in 2023 Rolex China Sea Race

As many of the boats started to make their final approach to Subic Bay, they enjoyed up to 30kts of breeze. But as they converged on the finish, the Subic Bay hole appeared, and they were trapped briefly before they could cross the finish line. Many, including experienced offshore sailors, described 2023 edition as the most tactical race they’ve seen.

Whiskey Jack crew and owner Nick Southward celebrate at the finish

Throughout the race, there was a very interesting tussle between Whiskey Jack and Juice on the IRC leaderboard, with Whiskey Jack not going higher than second and third place for a long time. It was only on Sunday when Whiskey Jack hit the dock in Subic Bay that they found themselves as IRC Overall winner, after just over four days of racing.

Owner/skipper Nick Southward was greeted with applause at the dock. “It feels absolutely amazing, seriously I can’t believe it. I mean we’ve won this race!” Southward said. “We’ve been right at the back of the fleet. We had a wild last 24 hours, it was just wild. We could not have pushed it harder. But we stayed in one piece, everyone’s here and it just feels amazing to be here.”

Andrew Pidden’s J-99 Juice finished early Sunday evening after 103 hours of racing, earning 3rd IRC Overall as well as 2nd in IRC 1.

This is my first Rolex China Sea Race, and it was a wild ride – from no wind at all to loads of wind. So it was quite crazy, but it was a lot of fun – Andrew Pidden

“This is my first Rolex China Sea Race, and it was a wild ride – from no wind at all to loads of wind. So it was quite crazy, but it was a lot of fun and great to do it with my two sons and my regular crew as well,” said Pidden, who sailed with sons Matt and Tom. “I was pretty nervous because their mother was telling me we had three fifths of her entire family on one boat and if I sank it, she was going to be very angry but they are great sailors and it’s always good to be out with them.”

Philippe and Cosmas Grelon, winners of the double-handed division and second IRC Overall, at the finish

The father and son double-handed team of Philippe and Cosmas Grelon on the Beneteau Figaro 3 Simpson Marine finished sailing in 94h 47m 10s, taking double-handed 1st place and IRC Overall 2nd place. They described the journey as exhausting, thanks in part to the loss of their autopilot, which was “man overboard at the Pratas” according to Cosmas. Philippe added: “It’s very difficult because when you leave the tiller, the boat is like a dinghy, so you can’t do anything. You have always to have a guy on the tiller. That was very, very hard.”

Standard Insurance Centennial 5, skippered by Ernesto Echauz, became the first Philippine yacht to claim Line Honours in the history of the race

Standard Insurance Centennial 5 crew at the dock in Subic Bay

In IRC 0, after Standard Insurance Centennial 5 took Line Honours, all eyes were on the intensely close racing that went on between three TP52s.

Read: A showdown of TP52s at the Rolex China Sea Race 2023

Finally on Friday night Rampage 88 managed to pull ahead but on Saturday things got even more interesting. Happy Go took a course south of the rhumb line while Rampage 88 sailed along it until lunchtime when she headed east towards the Philippine coast.

In the end it was Happy Go that finished 1h 37m 43s ahead of Rampage 88, taking IRC 0 3rd place. Another boat in the Centennial team, Standard Insurance Centennial 3, took IRC 0 2nd place.
Tiger Mok, Happy Go’s navigator, said that the Rolex China Sea Race is the longest offshore he’s ever done, adding “it’s one of the most challenging offshore races you can ever get. I loved it and hopefully we can come back and do another one next time!”

In IRC Premier, the sole Chinese entry, Yung Yao’s Dufour 500’s Tong Ran took 1st place with Thomas Wiesinger’s Sun Odyssey 42ds Pacific Sunrise taking 2nd place followed by Shenton Drew’s Swan 53 Athena in 3rd place.