Standard Insurance Centennial 5in historic China Sea Race victory

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ERNESTO “JUDE” ECHAUZ captained Standard Insurance Centennial 5 to line honors in historic fashion as the Rolex China Sea Race returned after a five-year absence.

A total of 18 international boats took off from Hong Kong last Wednesday with Centennial V immediately taking the pace and got to the finish at the Subic Freeport Saturday.

Echauz’s boat clocked 12 hours, 45 minutes and 47 seconds to become the first Philippine boat to win line honors in the 61-year-old race.

“It’s very historic! It’s the first time that a Philippine boat has won line honors at the Rolex China Sea Race,” Echauz said. “It’s such a prestigious race for us.”

Centennial 5 crossed the start line first to lead the fleet out of Hong Kong’s iconic skyline at Victoria Harbour and maintained a comfortable lead throughout the The Rolex China which Race is organized by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club in cooperation with the Manila Yacht Club and with the finish hosted this year by the Subic Bay Yacht Club.

The event—the oldest blue water race in Asia—took the boats over 565-nautical miles (1,046 kilometers) across the South China Sea to Subic Bay, considered a real test of sailing skill, energy, persistence and team spirit.

Echauz’s Rachel Pugh 75 Standard Insurance Centennial 5 is no stranger to flagship offshore races having participated in nine editions of the race and having his name engraved twice on the China Sea Race Trophy in 1998 and 2008.

Echauz captained an all-Filipino crew composed of current and former members of the national sailing team most of whom are from the Philippine Navy.

Two of the crew are women—laser sailors Alaisa Belmonte and Paula Bombeo.

The competitors navigated traditional and modern sea traffic before facing South China Sea’s demanding conditions.

The final approach to the Philippines, Echauz said, was characterized by lighter winds and the infamous “Luzon hole,” which often compresses any fleet that passes through.

The next to arrive in Subic was new participant Happy Go of Hong Kong, which was loaded with talented and experienced offshore sailors, including Tiger Mok, the only Hong Kong Volvo Ocean Race sailor, along with 2014 Incheon Asian Games Hong Kong Team sailors Owen Wong and Dominic Law.

Happy Go, skippered by New Zealand’s Jono Rankine and coached by Wong and Law, clocked 13 hours, 50 minutes and 12 seconds, almost one and a half hours behind Standard Insurance Centennial 5.

Another Hong Kong entry, Noel Chan’s Rampage 88—with a mixed crew of local, professional expats and relatively novice sailors—came in third.

Rampage 88—a Judel and Vrolijk designed TP52 and formerly called Zerocloud from Italy—clocked 14 hours, 42 minutes and 3 seconds.

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