The China Cup International Regatta 2012 concluded today with some dominant victories in some divisions and some close battles in others. Sea Wolf has devoured the IRC 3 division all regatta, and today's two race wins completed a perfect scoreline for Yan Yuye's Archambault 40.
In the most hard-fought fleet, the 30-strong Beneteau 40.7 division, the 15-point margin of Vatti Sailing's victory certainly looks impressive but doesn't tell the whole story. With an OCS disqualification hanging over Jono Rankine's crew since Race 2, their nearest rival's best chance of stealing victory was to take Vatti into a match race. So that's what Beijing Sailing Center did off the start line, according to Beijing's tactician Steve McConaghy. "Vatti and ourselves were pretty much both last off the line which was fine. That's where we wanted them. We both tacked on to port for some clear air, but they did a good job of getting free while we got a bit buried in the pack."
Vatti, who had already come second in the first heat, battled through to first by the finish, an impressive comeback - something that Rankine's crew have been able to do all regatta.
Simon Cooke, a former 470 World Champion, did a good job steering Vatti, but commented, "My job becomes easy when you're surrounded by a crew of this quality. You can trust them to get on with their jobs, knowing they'll do them really well." It was Cooke's wish to bring in 21-year-old Pete Burling to call tactics. "I've done a lot of racing against him over the years, and he's a text-book tactician, doesn't take risks unless he needs to. And of course now he's got the Olympic silver medal in the 49er, showing he's a great helmsman in his own right."
Beijing Sailing Center failed to defend their title from last year but Rick Pointon's crew took second place ahead of Robin Hawthorn's Vicsail crew from Australia. After a high-speed grounding yesterday, Gery Trentesaux's Team Courrier bounced back with a race win in the morning and finished 4th overall, a point ahead of fellow Frenchman Michel Desjoyeaux, who was sailing in China for the first time.
The ocean racing legend has enjoyed a different kind of challenge in Shenzhen this week. "Before arriving here that I knew nothing about this race,"
said Desjoyeaux, "except to be racing in a fleet of 30 boats. I had never been to China, Asia even. After four days of racing I can tell you the China Cup is a very nice place to race with beautiful islands, and sail with many different nations from all around the world. It's nice sailing in just shorts and t-shirt, 24 degrees water temperature, good for racing."
As for returning to the China Cup? "Perhaps next year, but if not then maybe the year after, and I look forward to seeing even more boats in future. This year almost 100, but in a few years' time, maybe 300 or 400?"
In the Far East 26 Division, a late charge by the Far East team with 2,1 score took them close to Constant Wind, but Stanley Chan's crew held on to their series lead and secured victory with scores of 1,3. In IRC 3, Shawn Kang has been sailing his Beneteau 50 Lighthouse to 1st or 2nd place all week and won comfortably ahead of the Swan 82S, Plus One, owned by Lu Jihong.
In IRC1 the mighty Jelik, owned by Frank Pong, was leading going into today, but Jamie McWilliam's Ker 40, Peninsula Signal 8, did what it needed to climb to the top spot with two bullets. It has been a close battle all week between the 40 footer and the 75 footer, but on this occasion David got the better of Goliath.
The past four days have brought every kind of wind, from the strong start and drifting finish of the Simpson Marine Passage Race on day one, to the high-speed excitement of day 3, when masts broke and Courrier ran aground. Although more than 130 boats wanted to enter this year's regatta, space restrictions in the marina kept entries to just 91. From a standing start five years ago, the China Cup International Regatta is really beginning to make its mark, not just in Asia but throughout the sailing community around the world. With affordable charter options making this a very attractive warm-weather regatta, the China Cup 2013 is expecting an even bigger entry next October.
* The China Cup International Regatta 2012 takes place on 26th to 29th October 2012 in the waters of Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Its consist of four days of racing organised by Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYC), Shenzhen Marine Sports Base and Shenzhen Vanke Longcheer Yacht Club (LYC). There are 91 entries representing 18 nations: Colombia, Australia, China, Hong Kong, China, Germany, France, Israel, Turkey, Singapore, Japan, Chinese Taipei, Mauritius, Argentina, Uruguay, Philippines, USA and the Netherlands.