Moonblue 2

SAIL # CAY 8888


Peter Churchouse (Owner), Inge Strompf-Jepsen (Radio), John Binks (NAV), Benedicto Napenas (C), Judy Roberts (C), Mark Salvador (C), Monica Browning (C), Mike Griffths (C), Alan Tillyer (C), Geoff Hill (C), Yiu Wai Kwok (C), Douglas Flynn (C)


Peter Churchouse (OWNER), Inge Strompf-Jepsen (NAV/RADIO), John Binks (NAV), Gregory Conley (C), Benny Napenas (C), Judy Roberts (C), Mark Salvador (C), Monica Browning (C), Patrick Stevens (C), Michael Griffiths (C)


Peter Churchouse (PIC), Inge Strompf-Jepsen (NAV/RADIO), David Baker (C), Benedicto Napenas (C), Gregory Conley (C), Judith Roberts (C), Mark Salvador (C), Douglas Flynn (C), Colin Dawson (C), Brian Wade (C), Ian Dubin (C), Liam Jeory (C)


Peter Churchouse (OWNER/PIC), Benedicto Austria Napenas (C), Edward Geoffrey Freeman (C), Gregory James Conley (C), Inge Strompf-Jepsen (C), John Douglas Brinks (C), Vic Locke (C), Judith Roberts (C), Mark Lester Salvador (C), Simon Pickering (C), Anthony Paul Kiehn (C)



Peter Churchouse’s  Moonblue 2 (a custom design 64 foot sloop designed by Warwick Yacht Designs and launched in 2000) will have a cosmopolitan crew of three women and eight men on board for the Rolex China Sea Race.  Whilst most live in Hong Kong, with one flying in from France, the crew hail from New Zealand, England, Australia, the Philippines and the USA.

Peter has competed in “about 12 to 14” China Sea Races and he’s looking forward to the 2016 edition:  “For the race down to Philippines at this time of year probably the sailing highlight for me is night sailing.  Specifically a couple of days out of Hong Kong, when the sea is a bit more settled, weather getting warmer.  The wind is still on the beam or slightly aft, and the full moon comes up at about 9 pm or so on the port bow.  The reflections on a settled sea are beguiling.  As the night wears on the moon passes overhead and settles on the starboard aft quarter.  And about half an hour before the sun comes up, the fishing lines are set, ready for a hopefully hungry Dorado or Wahoo looking for an easy breakfast, when in fact we are looking for him to be OUR easy breakfast!”

It’s all about the time of arrival in Subic says Peter “The entry to Subic Bay is typically the worst part of the race for a boat like ours.  Typically we arrive at the mouth of the Bay around 5pm or so, and immediately the wind dies as the wind transitions from a day sea breeze to an evening land breeze.  But it can take several hours for that transition to take place.  We sit, going virtually nowhere for what seem like an eternity.   Meanwhile, our smaller and slower competition is still out at sea, in that offshore breeze.  A boat of Moonblue 2's speed may be 30 miles ahead of our competition, but we are parked at the entrance to the Bay as they are still steaming full tilt down the coast with full breeze.  Eventually, they enter the Bay about a mile or so from where we have been sitting for four hours, going nowhere as the inshore evening breeze has not yet kicked in.  Typically it does so just as the slower boats get to the mouth of the Bay.  They tend to hook right into it by having been slower in getting to the bay and we are all pretty much neck and neck on the water again.”

So what’s the secret of this Race? “Be in a very fast boat that gets to Subic Bay well before the evening, so that you can steam up the Bay in a good day breeze. OR race a slower boat that gets you to the mouth of the Bay later in the evening, just as the evening land breeze cranks up.  Little to no down time.  Moonblue 2 is kind of in the middle, and suffers as a result.”

Whilst Peter is looking forward to the return journey that offers fabulous fishing, on the way there he says they’re “looking for a podium position, we are competitive, but keep a fun perspective on our sailing.  But after all Moonblue 2 is a full blown cruising boat - not a racing boat.  Five fridges/freezers, five aircon units, three heads, fully equipped galley, wine cellar, a substantial array of fishing gear and other toys ensure that the boat is very much a cruising adventure than a totally extreme racing venture.”


Owner/Skipper Peter Churchouse has had Moonblue 2, a Custom Warwick 64 ft since new in 2000.  His crew of two women and ten men are from New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, the United Kingdom, the Philippines and France.  The crew that are flying in for the Race are Doug Flynn (Australia), Brian Wade (New Zealand), David Baker (Australia) and Greg Conley (France).  Moonblue 2 has done every Rolex China Sea Race since 2002 (save for 2010 when she was being repainted) and personally, Peter has at least 12 under his belt.

Timing is everything it seems.  Pete is hoping to avoid  “the bloody awful holes at the mouth of Subic Bay which kill the boats that get there between 1600 and 1700hrs as the inshore wind dies.  Outside boats carry the wind for 30 miles and we all end up at the same place, having been miles ahead.  You sit at the mouth of the bay as the sea breeze dies inshore, and the land breeze does not kick in until about 2200hrs - so that’s five to six hours of sitting there going nowhere while the slower boats are still enjoying the breeze up the coast all the way to the mouth of the bay, just in time to pick up the evening land breeze!  If you are a super fast racing boat, you get to the mouth of the bay during the day, when there is plenty of wind, but for the ‘faster’ cruising boats like Moonblue 2, we get there just as the wind dies.  It’s a fact of life that we have to live with going to that destination. 

Pete says that “possibly the best parts of this Race are the evenings after Day 1, when the typical configuration is spinnaker up, modest winds, flattish seas and a beautiful full moon that comes up at about 2100hrs on the port bow, and goes down behind the stern over the course of the night - and huge ‘Pixie’ pies baked beans, pots of coffee and lashings of Branston Pickle and brown sauce.  The teapot and sundown is also keenly awaited!”

Apart from looking forward to some great fishing, Pete is planning on doing well in the Race and enjoying the tactical challenges that come with it.  “With all the ‘racing’ boats masquerading as ‘cruising’ boats, it is difficult for genuine ‘furniture’ boats to do well under IRC.  In fact it is almost a waste of time thinking that you can do well in Premier Cruising Division in such genuine cruising boats given the increasingly racing configuration of some of the boats that slip into this division these days - or older racing boats that decide they are now cruising boats.” says Peter, adding that “everyone that is a racing boat in sheep’s clothing is Moonblue 2’s greatest competition, I like to race against genuine similar ‘furniture’ boats - unfortunately that is increasingly not the case”. 

Pete continues to join offshore races despite what he describes as a “yachting bureaucracy making these events more difficult to do” by “adding increasing levels of regulatory and administrative encumbrances to the sport.”  He’s dreading the the possibility of “a new raft of rules that need to be complied with next time, adding further additional layers of reasons not to participate.”  Let’s hope so too Pete, we would love to see you on the start line every time!

Back to the Race that Pete is taking part in - Pete says “there are all these folks that think the Hobart Race is the ‘biggie’ for sailors and yes it is a classic hard race for sure.  But this Rolex China Sea Race takes sailors much further offshore and well out of range of airborne help in the event of a disaster.  Hence a need to be well-prepared.  I have had guys on board who have done literally double-digit Hobart races and get as sick as a dog on this Race given a very uncomfortable quartering sea on the first day out typically.  It is not quite the benign tropical paradise that some people might imagine.”