Dongfeng Race Team is putting in a dominant performance at the China Cup International Regatta, with scores of 1,1,1,2 so far in IRC Division B, with last year’s winner Whiskey Jack in 2nd. The Jeanneau Sunfast 3600 is skippered by the boat’s designer, Frenchman Daniel Andrieu. However the bigger interest is in the Chinese sailors on board the 36-footer, some of whom are part of Dongfeng’s Volvo Ocean Race crew. They will be joining the team’s Volvo Ocean 65 for future legs of the Volvo Ocean Race.
So why are these round-the-world adventurers competing in short-course, windward-leeward racing such as took place today in Daya Bay? Team coach Bruno Dubois explained: “The aim is to put the sailors in a competitive environment whenever we get the opportunity, and the China Cup is the biggest regatta in the country and one of the biggest in Asia, with the quality going up every year.”
The team excelled in the 10-14 knot breezes today, and Dubois is deservedly proud of the progress that his Chinese apprentices have made in the past year. “I was at the China Cup a year ago looking for talent,” he said, “and there were certain qualities we were looking for such as strength and fitness. But the main thing is spirit, and that is what these sailors have. Spirit is the most important quality.”
After two years out of competitive sailing, round-the-world veteran Nick Moloney is on board Dongfeng as a mentor to the crew and also as tactician for Andrieu’s boat. “It’s great to be back racing again,” said the Australian professional now living in Hong Kong. “I’ve got my appetite back and it was good racing today, although there were a couple of boats that missed a mark of the course so we’ve got some protests in, to make sure they do the right thing and retire.”
Moloney confessed that he looked enviously over at the close one-design racing going on in the Beneteau 40.7 fleet, where there is a real scrap going on for the top spot. If yesterday’s Simpson Marine Passage Race suggested that the regatta would be a match race between Vanke Longcheer and Vatti Sailing (winners of the past two China Cups), the 2011 winners, Beijing Sailing Center, threw down the gauntlet with a 1,2,3 in today’s races. This was matched by Vatti’s 2,3,1 which, combined with yesterday’s victory in the long race, puts Jono Rankine’s team two points ahead of Rick Pointon’s Beijing gang.
Vanke scored a 1,2 in the last two races of the day, but a slow start in the morning race which saw them finish 7th, places the defending champions in 3rd overall, 3 points back from Beijing. Vatti helmsman Simon Cooke commented: “We were a bit slow sorting out our approach to the starts, forgetting that the 40.7 is a heavy boat that needs a bit of time to build speed. But we’re getting better at it, and I think this week is going to be won and lost on how you manage to get off the start line.”
There were some dominant performances in other fleets today, notably by Malaysia’s Tiffany Koo who is showing the boys how it’s done in the SOTO 27 one-design class with three victories for CMGE/ KRT, putting her 4 points in front of Haihang Sailing Team. Hua’an Cutting Edge also won all three races in HKPN Division A to take a good lead ahead of yesterday’s passage race winner, Tiger Zeng’s TT.
On Sunday two races are scheduled for the 103-boat fleet, including a Round the Island Race.
– China Cup Media