Published: Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Some of the world’s most famous and accomplished sailors are getting ready for the start of the 10th edition of the China Cup International Regatta Oct 27-30.

China Cup Receives 138 Entries From 38 Regions

(Photos: China Cup - China Cup 2015)

Beginning with a Skippers’ briefing at the spectacularly located Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYC), the four-day regatta starts with a passage race and concludes after three days of short-course racing in Daya Bay near Shenzhen, China.

 With 138 entries representing 38 different regions and nations, the international fleet sees everyone from virtual beginners to Olympic Champions racing alongside each other. The Beneteau 40.7 fleet is always the most hotly contested. Yiihua&Pocket Team New Zealand is back for a second year, skippered by Guy Pilkington and helmed by one of the world’s top match racers – Chris Steele, with a very experienced crew that will be among the leading contenders for the title.

Based on past performances, the form boat in the 40.7s is the defending champion Team Wanhang Longcheer, skippered by Steve McConaghy, but with plenty of other international crews looking to make their mark, notably Cheung Kong Sailing Club skippered by Jono Rankine, always a solid performer in Shenzhen. There are other former champions looking muscle in on the action, notably Japanese team Koufu skippered by Kazuhiro Kahara and Myside Team from South Africa skippered by Ellian Perch. Many other nations have sent top sailors to compete in the 40.7 charter fleet, including Australia, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Sweden, Canada, USA and the UK.  

China Cup Receives 138 Entries From 38 Regions 1

The competition in the IRC fleets will also be tough, with a number of international sailors raising the overall standard. Among the crew of Anthony Root’s US entry on Black Baza, a custom Ker 42, is Jo Aleh, winner of a gold and silver medal at the last two Olympic Games in the Women’s 470 class. Another top-class female in the IRC fleet is Tiffany Koo, whose Malaysian entry Hero Racing, a Mills 40, won her fleet here last year. Nick Southward’s crew on J-109 Whiskey Jack like to play hard but race hard too, past winners looking to add another China Cup trophy in 2016. Among the competitors in the ASAF Keelboat Cup is a team from Oman Sail, with experienced offshore racer Fahad Al Hasani heading up the crew.

For the local crews, racing against such high-quality international competition offers a great opportunity to advance their own skills as the sport of sailing continues to grow in China. Many overseas teams have already raced at the China Cup multiple times, always attracted back by the warm weather in late October combined with good, close racing and affordable entry and charter fees. 

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Jan Stage, recently returned from the Olympics at Rio 2016, heads up the experienced international jury who will be out on the water to keep the racing clean, fair and friendly, and keep evenings in the protest room as short as possible. The evening parties at the Sheraton Hotel Dameisha are not to be missed, so the on-water judging helps make sure that everyone has a good chance of being there for the great food and entertainment.

In total there are 10 racing classes competing:

  • One Design Class Beneteau First 40.7
  • One Design Class Far East 28R
  • One Design Class J-80
  • One Design Class Bavaria Cruiser 37
  • ASAF Keelboat Cup
  • Class HKPN A, HKPN B 
  • Class IRC A, IRC B, IRC C 
China Cup Receives 138 Entries From 38 Regions 7

Fastest boat on the water is likely to be Jelik III, the Reichel-Pugh 75ft racing sled skippered by famous Hong Kong sailor Frank Pong. Jelik will be expected to be among the front-runners in the opening Hong Kong-Shenzhen Passage Race to Daya Bay, where the regatta will be based for the remaining three days of inshore racing. Pong has also been a long-time supporter of the event, and is proud of how far the China Cup has come in the past decade.

“I joined the first China Cup International Regatta in 2007, so this will be my tenth event. I’ve done all of them!” says Pong. “We’ve seen big changes and improvements in the management of the event in that time. You would not believe how many meetings the CEO David Zhong and China Cup Management Secretary General Jamie Xiong had been since the beginning of 2016, each attended by upwards of 30 official and unofficial departments.

China Cup Receives 138 Entries From 38 Regions 3

“As a result of all these meetings, onshore arrangements in clearing immigration formalities are smooth and quick; each evening's prize-giving functions is taken place at the Sheraton Hotels Grand Ballroom, where speeches are now few, short, and to the point.

“On-water management is well under the control of Simon James from the UK and his colleagues. Their experience makes it possible to handle the complexities of splitting the fleet into two courses in order to accommodate the increasing number of both international and local participants.

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“The International Judges, chaired by Jan Stage from Denmark, are kept busy each year, although I’m pleased to say they have not had to adjudicate on too many serious infringements.

“The skill of local crews has improved by huge amounts in just ten years. It has been great to see the China Cup make such significant strides and I’m looking forward to the tenth edition this year.”