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22 January 2022

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GEFELICITEERD bonknhoot!!!

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A fitful breeze out of the South East greeted the 135 SOLers, who assembled on the line off Tianjin for the start of SOL's first race of this year's new Seven Seas of Asia series, to be immediately confronted with the first of a series of strategic dilemmas – whether to sail free and fast for more pressure in the Yellow Sea's northern Bay of Liaodong or to sail close-hauled and pick a fist shift early for a tack south and better VMC. Perhaps a dozen boats went for the long way round arcing deep into the northern bay to establish a handy lead on the rest of the fleet on clearing the Shandong Peninsula into the Yellow Sea proper. Quite the topography lesson this race!

But with a long long way to go, the topographical learning was far from over and neither was the race, with the next dilemma being whether to keep north or south of Jeju Island off the tip of Korea en route to Yakushima Island off the tip of Japan. This time the northerners ran out of wind more and bonknhoot who had opted for south early doors went into the lead, only to lose it again to Garagiste halfway down the next leg to Japan's remote most southerly Yaeyama island group and the rounding of Taketomi tucked in behind the group's main Ishigaki Island. Alas for Garagiste and many others, another choice presented itself here but only late in the day, and no more than half a dozen, including SKOVSER, bonknoot and Kipper1258 went for the right one – to leave Ishigaki to port before leaving Taketomi to starboard.

Another long leg, mostly upwind in strong winds across the open ocean, followed, and positions changed little. But as the wind fell away approaching Korea, it became clear that an archipelago dodge through the 2000 islands of the South Jeolla prefecture in light airs was going to provide a final challenge to the fleet. Fortunately for all, the wind was kinder on the outer edges of the island maze and most made it to the finish unscathed, which SOL's race designer for this one, bonknhoot, modestly crossed first himself. Next up: the South China Sea – don't miss it!

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