MONSOON   1963-1967                    MANILA


Monsoon was a Hong Kong One Ton class sailboat built during the 1930’s in Hong Kong. 26 feet on deck, its five foot bowsprit and a four foot bumpkin allowed it to sport an oversized rig, making it quite fast on the water. In 1941, just before the arrival of the Japanese armies, it was taken up the Pearl River towards Canton and allowed to sit on the bottom during all of the occupation. After the war it was refloated, mast re-stepped and once again brought into its original condition. In the mid fifties it was shipped to the Philippines to become part of the Manila Yacht Club racing fleet.


           I bought Monsoon in 1963 and began to race it actively with a great crew made up of friends and my two sons. With its 35’ OA rig, she was fast, and being a racer at heart, I always pushed the canvas. She was ready to go for an around the buoys race in October, 1964. My eager crew were juiced up for a win, more so when we stole the start in a light northeast wind. 16 boats trailed us as we rounded the sea buoy off Sangley Pont Naval Air Station. Trident, a 45 foot steel ketch, was hard on our wake as the customary noon wind change to the southeast hit. I looked back at this powerful giant gaining on us, then up at the large genoa we had flying. It should not be flying in 20 knots but if I went for a sail change, Trident would zip right past us as we bobbed along without a headsail.

            Minutes passed. We held out own. I headed to windward to keep Trident in my lee. The wind increased to 25 knots. Trident was loving it. Heavy, it was beginning to move at hull speed. I needed to reduce sail, but to do so would take minutes. What to do was suddenly resolved for me.

            With a spectacular crash the bowsprit sprung loose, whipped towards the sky as the mast, sails and rigging went over the side. Monsoon came to a grinding stop. Nothing left to do but pop a cold San Miguel beer.

             Easy to sail with a sail inventory to fit any wind, as a family, Monsoon was out in Manila Bay every weekend. A great sailing boat, my eye was on a 39 foot Robert Clark Mystery Class sailboat at anchor, Mysterious. Poor Monsoon was soon to become history.  

 Bill Butler, 2006