Published: Tuesday, 18 July 2017

ChinaOne Ningbo triumphed at the M32 World Championships, having won the GKSS Match Cup Sweden against Taylor Canfield and the US One Sailing Team as well as at the WMRT Perth.

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(Photos: Lloyd Images / ChinaOne Sailing, Anton Klock / M32 World - ChinaOne Ningbo)

The team, however, struggled through with only mediocre results, ending the first day of racing in fourth place.

Phil Robertson, the Kiwi skipper of the ChinaOne Ningbo team, has been battling with a fierce cold that has kept him off his best. “I’ve not been able to think and respond the way I do normally. I’m definitely not as sharp as I should be and Thursday really got the best of me. The rest of the team stepped up, but the day did not go according to plan. I went to bed early on Thursday night, got plenty of rest and went into Friday with a complete focus to turn those results around.

Chinaone Ningbo Wins M32 World Championships

“I still wasn’t at my best but we know that the key to success in fleet racing is to keep pulling steady results, so consistency is key. With this strategy the points weigh in your favour so we came out of day two back at the top of the pile, six points clear of second place.”

On day three with five races, ChinaOne Ningbo managed to extend their lead and have finished clear of Warrer Racing in second place by nine points.

“It was an up and down day. We started well and the first two races were strong, but starting is key in a big fleet like this and races 3 and 4 proved tough as we didn’t get off the mark as well as we’d hoped. It’s hard to fight back and so we only managed ninth and seventh. In the final race of the day the team dug deep and we managed another good result which was enough to pull ahead of the pack and stay in first place.”

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Event management cancelled the fourth and final day of racing due to weather conditions.

Meanwhile, Chinese sailor Xu Lijia was announced to be the ambassador and training partner of the new ChinaOne Ningbo sailing team as they race in the M32 World Championship.

At London 2012, Chinese sailor Xu Lijia took home China’s second-ever Olympic gold medal in sailing and won the hearts of a nation after battling partial-deafness, partial-blindness and cancer.

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Xu Lijia began sailing when she was 10 and has been racing dinghies internationally since she was 11.

"In China we have thousands of miles of coastline along which you will find busy trading ports and fishing fleets, but sailing is still in its infancy. When I was 10 years old I moved from swimming to sailing. I didn’t even know what sailing was. Winning gold and becoming the flagbearer at the 2012 Olympics helped to raise the profile of sailing back home but we have a long way to go for it to be enjoyed the way it is in places such as Sweden.” 

Xu Lijia has been racing single-handed, single-hulled dinghies for her entire career. 

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"Phil took me out on the ChinaOne Ningbo M32 catamaran today. This was my first time on an M32 and I absolutely loved it. Even when the winds were light, the boat carried so much speed. Sailing faster than the wind is an experience everyone should enjoy at some point in their life. I’m looking forward to benefiting from their skill and experience. I am dedicated to a life on the water and hope that in the future I will develop the skills necessary to lead my own M32 team, and win."

Xu Lijia’s appointment as ChinaOne Ningbo’s ambassador and training partner is part of the aim to promote sailing in China, and in particular the profile of Ningbo as a leading destination for world-class sailing.

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Philip Sohmen, Co-Chairman of ChinaOne Sailing said: “ChinaOne Ningbo's vision is to create a team that is competitive at the highest levels internationally in order to promote sailing in Ningbo and China, and develop new talent.  We are thrilled to have Lijia as ambassador for the team, bringing her together with some of the world’s best multihull sailors from New Zealand and Australia in the World Match Racing Championship and M32 Series. Lijia is an extraordinary single-hull sailing talent and we are looking forward to working closely with her."

Asked what she thinks of Marstrand, Lijia said: "This is certainly the best time of year to be here, with the long and sun-filled days. It's a beautiful town and the people are very welcoming. We will do our best to offer everyone here the same open arms when they visit Ningbo."