Some of the world’s most famous and accomplished sailors are getting ready for the start of the 8th edition of the China Cup International Regatta. The four-day regatta starts with a passage race on 24 October 2014, and concludes on 27 October after three days of short-course racing.
With 105 boats representing more than 30 different regions and nations, entered across five racing divisions, 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. Last year the 470 Olympic Champion helmsman from Beijing 2008, Australia’s Nathan Wilmot, came to do battle in this hot, one-design fleet. This year his former 470 team mate, double Olympic Champion Malcolm Page is sailing on the crew of Vatti Sailing, a perennial high performer at this regatta, with an all-star crew skippered by Jono Rankine.
Last year’s winning boat, Vanke Longcheer, will be among the frontrunners in the 40.7s, along with Beijing Sailing Center skippered by Great Britain’s Rick Pointon, who won this division in 2011. Other big names include Corentin Horeau who at 23-years-old is recognised as one of France’s up and coming offshore talents, and Mikhail Ermakov, vice president of the Russian Sailing Federation.
Dongfeng Race Team is one of the teams competing in the Volvo Ocean Race that departed Spain a few days ago. Dongfeng is also represented at the China Cup, with yacht designer Daniel Andrieu skippering his crew in a Jeanneau Sun Fast 3600. The crew will consist of reserve team members from the Volvo Ocean Race crew, and taking part in the China Cup will help keep them match fit for when they are called up to compete on legs of the round-the-world race. Also on the Dongfeng crew is Australian round-the-world veteran Nick Moloney.
For the local crews, racing against such top-notch international competition offers a great opportunity to advance their own skills as the sport of sailing continues to grow meteorically 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.
Aside from the Beneteau 40.7 division, two other hotly-contested one-design fleets are the SOTO 27 and a new addition – the Fareast 28R. The two handicap divisions are IRC and HKPN. Last year HKPN Division 1 was dominated by Tiger Zeng’s TT with a string of race victories, and he’s back to see if he can repeat that performance this year. The biggest boat in the IRC fleet is the Swan 82S Team Ubox skippered by Wang Lei, although the team will face tough competition from the highly optimised Reichel-Pugh 75, Jelik III, skippered by famous Hong Kong sailor Frank Pong. On 24th October, these two Maxis will be expected to be among the front runners in the opening Simpson Passage Race from Hong Kong to Shenzhen, where the regatta will be based for the remaining three days of inshore racing in the spectacular Shenzhen Daya Bay.
* The China Cup International Regatta 2014 takes place on 24th to 27th October 2014 in the waters of Shenzhen and Hong Kong. As of 16 October, there are 105 entries representing more than 30 countries and regions including: Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, USA. China Cup International Regatta is approved by the General Administration of Sport of China, and co-sponsored by Water Sports Administration Center of the General Administration of Sport of China, as well as the Shenzhen Municipal Bureau of Culture, Sport and Tourism. It is the largest China-initiated international sailing regatta, and the biggest First 40.7 regatta in the Asian-Pacific region. China Cup International Regatta was awarded 'Asian Regatta of the year 2012' at Asian Marine and Boating Awards, and by brand value is recognised as one of the top 10 sporting events in China.