Published: Thursday, 26 October 2017

Hong Kong joined the nautical world in celebration as the 13th edition of the Volvo Ocean Race set out from Alicante, Spain, launching the official countdown to Hong Kong’s first ever hosting of this historic race.

Countdown To Volvo Ocean Race Hong Kong 1

(Photo: Volvo Ocean Race - Scallywag)

The event marked 90 days to when the seven yacht Volvo Ocean Race fleet is expected to sail into Victoria Harbour.

The Volvo Ocean Race Hong Kong will be the fifth of 12 stages on this year’s 45,000 mile nautical adventure with the boats expected to arrive on January 20 as they complete legs in Alicante, Lisbon and Cape Town prior to making the 600-mile voyage from Melbourne to Hong Kong’s harbour.

It will be the biggest sailing yacht event in Hong Kong’s history and one which the Hong Kong Sailing Federation believes will inspire a new generation of sailors to take to the waters.

“The first ever Volvo Ocean Race Hong Kong is the culmination of significant efforts by the Hong Kong Sailing Federation and Home Affairs Bureau to attract this premier sailing yacht event to local waters. Hong Kong is proud to host a stopover of 2017/2018 Volvo Ocean Race,” said Charlie Manzoni, Vice President of the Hong Kong Sailing Federation.

“We join the entire city in celebrating another world-class event marking the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and are eagerly anticipating the Volvo Ocean Race Hong Kong’s impact in raising awareness city-wide of sailing and our thriving sailing community.”

The countdown event featured a live cross with Hong Kong’s first ever entry in the race (Team Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag) with skipper David Witt and Hong Kong-born sailor Tiger Mok as they prepared for the first leg of their journey which was to start just over five hours later in Spain.

“We are definitely ship-shape,” said Tiger Mok from the deck of Scallywag in Alicante hours ahead of the race start.

“We have been preparing very hard for the last few months and we’re very proud to be on the starting line this morning. It’s pretty emotional actually, for both the entire team and for Witty and I. It’s something we both have dreamed of for many, many years.

“It’s a very emotional day and we are looking forward to it, but we just have to treat it as a normal day of sailing, like we’ve been doing all of our lives. We are just going to give it our best shot,” Mok added.

“We look forward to sailing into Hong Kong harbour and seeing all of our families and friends from the sailing community and seeing everyone who is supporting us and following us in this race and are very keen to see everyone back in Hong Kong in January,” Mok added.

The press conference capped off a day-long celebration of the Volvo Ocean Race Hong Kong at Harbour City Ocean Terminal, which also featured giveaways, face tattoos, photo opportunities, drawing competitions for the kids and an appearance by Wisdom the Volvo Ocean Race Mascot.

Passers-by were also invited to write their messages of support on a special boat sail erected at the press conference venue.

Visitors had a first glimpse of the free Volvo Ocean Race Hong Kong Race Festival, which will inhabit Kai Tak Runway Park from January 17-31.

Hong Kong Port Director, Grant Calder confirmed the city was ready to welcome the Volvo Ocean Race.

“Hong Kong is going to be treated to a visual delight with the 10-storey high yachts expected to sail in to Victoria Harbour to a cheering crowd welcoming them to Kai Tak Runway Park which will act as their home base and an entertainment hub for the Volvo Ocean Race Hong Kong stopover,” said Calder. 

“With Hong Kong having its first ever team entry in the around-the-world sailing race, we are certain the people of Hong Kong will get out to Kai Tak Runway Park to support their home team and enjoy the free festivities.”