Thursday, November 19, 2015

J/Teams Lovin' China Cup IX Regatta

J/80s sailing China Cup- Jim Johnstone(Daya Bay, Shenzen, China)- The 9th Edition of the China Cup International Regatta took place in Hong Kong and Shenzhen (Guangdong Province), China from October 30th to November 2nd, 2015, under the auspices of the Water Sports Administration Center of the General Administration of Sport of China and Shenzhen Municipal Administration of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

As the largest international big boat sailing event in China and three-time winner of “Best Asian Regatta of the Year”, about 100 yachts sail this South China Sea each each year including a new fleet of a dozen J/80s competing intensively in a one-design class, crewed by leading Asian sailors. The four-day event had eight different classes of competition and eight races: the Hong Kong to Shenzhen passage race, inshore races and round the island races, with around 1,000 sailors from more than 30 different countries and regions enjoying the intoxicating experience.

J/109 Whiskey Jack team sailing China Cup off Hong Kong and ShenzenThe event is distinctly oriented towards social festivities and provides simply extraordinary entertainment and parties in the evenings.  You do NOT want to be imprisoned in a protest room into the late evening while all your friends are cutting loose and having a fantastic time in the five-star resort!  Relaxation and fun are the theme and the daily prize-giving awards ceremony simply puts most others to shame.

Mr. David Zhong, Deputy Secretary-General of China Cup International Regatta Organizing Committee said, “We want to make the races as competitive as possible by attracting the world’s top sailors to participate in one of the world’s most enjoyable sailing events. Furthermore, we hope to strengthen our ties with the international sailing community.”  To say the least, they’ve got the formula right, and there’s no question several J/Teams took home their fair share of silverware.  Here is Jim Johnstone’s (J/Boats China) report:

J/80s sailing China Cup regatta off Hong Kong & Shenzen“J sailors had a nice showing in this years China Cup IX. With the J/109 WHISKEY JACK driven by Nick Southward and long time crew in IRC and a new J/80 fleet racing One-Design.  Teams came from China, Hong Kong, USA, United Kingdom and Holland to participate on the different J/'s sailing.  Thirteen J/80's registered with boats coming from Xiamen and Hong Kong as either private or charter boats.  SAILING IN performance sailing school also participated with two boats full of students- novice sailors lead by Martin Hingst and me.

As we all know, when you take out beginner racers it is much easier to sail when the breeze is light.  The China Cup this year was not particularly light, but not out of control either.  It was enough to challenge the novice sailors and help with their overall confidence.  We sailed most of the event in 15 to 20 knots of wind with moderate size waves.

J/80 crew on Sailing One 2 teamThis year, we decided that we needed to start enforcing the J/80 Class Rules a little more in China and we started this event with crew weigh-in's for the J/80 class only.  A notification was sent to all competitors before they arrived and teams still scrambled a little to figure out how to deal with being overweight!  Nothing new there, right!?  Being prepared includes checking what the crew weight is and making adjustments to get lighter crews- like this spinnaker trimmer.

We sailed 8 races over three days and there was a noticeable difference of experience between the top four J/80's and the rest of the fleet.  Henry Wong on the FOOTLOOSE team from Hong Kong, Liu Changlong from XIAMEN LIHAN Sailing Team and the two SAILING IN Teams were the boats everyone else had to beat.

The team that jumped out to an early lead was SAILING IN ONE lead by our team.  The noticeable difference in this team was that they played the shifts and tacked twice as much as the competitors in the class and were using very conservative spinnaker tactics on the sets and take downs- the stated goal was to minimize all errors!  Their tactics and strategy paid off for them, taking the overall victory with 7 firsts and 1 third.

Martin Hingst on SAILING IN TWO was sailing in the pack most of the time, but where Martin’s team excelled was in their ability as a crew to make large gains downwind.  They pulled off second place overall all 4 points ahead of 3rd.

J/80 China Cup team- 3rd place3rd place was Liu Changlong, a former Olympic Chinese Finn Sailor and coach in Xiamen, skippering the XIAMEN LIHAN Sailing Team.  Liu was a force that was very consistent in his overall sailing.  He was always there and always pushing.  The FOOTLOOSE team was 4th position, driven by Henry Wong. This team and the other Hong Kong Teams also did a Special J/80 Passage Race from Hong Kong to Shenzhen, which was not counted in the One-Design overall scores, but they enjoy frequent one-design racing in Hong Kong with the 26 local Hong Kong boats.

Red Dragon, builders of the J/80 in Xiamen, also sailed with their own RED DRAGON Team, finishing 5th place in the event.  They were also on hand providing two new charter boats and helping with any questions any of the J/80 sailors had during the event.  Overall, it was great to see the Chinese J/80 Class come together for this event.  In the past, it was always difficult since moving boats around china is not like it is in the US where you can simply tow them down the road. You need to ship them, which adds to the cost and reduces the participation.  We are currently working on a new fleet for the Shenzhen area, so we are looking forward to the potential of a much larger fleet next year. Congratulation to WHISKEY JACK for their dominating performance in the IRC Class.”

Captain Nick Southward of J/109 Whiskey Jack fameAccording to Nick Southward, owner/skipper of the J/109 WHISKEY JACK, “the crew of Whiskey Jack was happy to be returning to the prestigious China Cup International Regatta. With the competition heating up, the team was ready to face all challenges and was ready to fearlessly plow through the seas in the hope of bettering last year’s performance and regaining their title from 2013. In keeping with the team motto, “teamwork makes the dream work and whiskey never hurts”, the team had another enjoyable and exciting China Cup!”  Indeed, they did!  They started out by winning their first race and, despite a DNF in the second race, laid down an amazing string of races (a 1-3-2-1-1-2) for a total score of 11.0 net pts!  The masses of silverware were theirs!  Imagine that, they absolutely HAD to be at the Awards cocktail party each night since top three prizes were given out each night for each race in each fleet! Eight awards in all- but who’s counting anyways?  Good on ya Nick and gang!  For more International China Cup IX sailing information

And, a very brief report about the AUDI China Coast Regatta.  In IRC 2 Class, WHISKEY JACK was 5th place while fellow stablemate, the J/111 MOJITO sailed by Simon Blore took 3rd place and won some of their own silver along the way!  Congrats to both teams!   For more Royal Hong Kong YC China Coast sailing information