Over the past 10 years, leisure boat ownership in China has dramatically increased and the pleasure yacht industry rapidly followed by building marina facilities and resorts at popular tourist destinations. During the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race, Sanya the Capital City of Hainan Island hosted the Stopover, In-port races and launched their own multi million US$ boat campaign by the same name during the race. They have also just been awarded the VOR Stopover again for the 2014-15 race .
Hainan is already famous for its splendid cuisine and unmatched service industry that has transformed itself into a world class international tourism destination. The General Administration of Sports in China, Hainan Municipal Governments and the Chinese Yachting Association (CYA) formed the Hainan Ocean Race Co Ltd to organise the 470 nautical mile offshore sailing race that goes clockwise round the island in two stages.
The start and finish is from Sanya, which is the southernmost city, renown for its warm weather making it the Tourism Capital of China. Now Sanya Serenity Coast Marina is fast turning Sanya into one of the most popular sailing cities in the country.
All classes will first participate in 3 days of inshore racing at Sanya, including one PRO-AM day to introduce the local media to yacht racing. Then the IRC 1 Racers head off clockwise around the island in two stages via Haikou in the North, while the IRC 2 Racers compete in a series of short island races up and down the coast, from Sanya to Dongluo Island (1day), Sanya to Wanning (1 day) and Wanning to Sanya (1 day). The Soto 27 One-Design Fleet will be competing on a 3-day inshore series of races in Sanya before the big yachts head off on the island courses.
Most the 39 competing yachts are privately owned production boats (Beneteau, Jeanneau, Bavaria, Hunter, Farnova and Archambault models) imported from overseas and some are chartered by foreign teams invited to compete. The biggest boat in the fleet is Wang Lei's majestic Swan 82 You Bao, which competed successfully as Chao Ren Plus One at the 2011 Phuket King's Cup. Looking at the form guide Adam Ng’s Judel Vrolijk 52 Team Shenzhen Apat is the only fully optimised IRC yacht in the fleet and must start out as favourite. At the China Cup in Shenzhen last year, Yan Yuye’s Archambault 40 Sea Wolf devoured the IRC 3 division with a perfect scoreline and the winner in the 30 strong Beneteau First 40.7 class, Kiwi Jonno Rankine is back on the reigns of Team Vatti and elected to battle it out with Zhao Guangyun's sistership 500 Wan and the big boats in IRC 1 on the Round Hainan Race.
Both the IRC Classes have been further subdivided based on the number, size, IRC rating bands and hull factors. There are six popular Beneteau Oceanis 40's named after the cities and sponsored by Provincial Governments on Hainan and six Beneteau First 40.7's from the China Cup, that are either under charter or representing other Chinese sailing organisations and have acquired the services of top ranked foreign skippers and crew to guide them through the paces.
Three Dutch teams led by Marjolein Margot Brandt on Team Gaastra Women (Aloha), Martin Hingst on Team Gaastra Men (Lingshui) and Hendrikus Schaik's Team Redan (Haikou) will be mixing it up on the six Beneteau Oceanis 40's with Malaysia's Vincent Chan Siew Onn's Team Abdullah Chan (Sanya), Gerardus Sonnemans Team Hong Kong (Wanning) from Germany and Russia's Andrei Nichiporenko on Team Volga (Danzhou) are shaping up for the battle of the nations. They have their own One – Design class (IRC 1-B) and contesting the Round Hainan Race.
The IRC 2 Class is racing on local courses, up and down the coast from Sanya, and further subdivided into three divisions. Gui Hongjun's Beneteau Oceanis 58 ATC tops the scales in the IRC 2-A (Over 47ft) class with Fan Guangming's Jeanneau 57 Tai Qi close behind. They will have to be on the pace as Zhong Huibo's Jeanneau 53 Shen Ma, Yang Zhong's Farnova 52 You Fan, Wu Liang's Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 50DS Easyway Team Whitewave and Kiwi Mark Fullerton's Farnova 48 Farnova Team Thinkpad are being primed to strike from the first starting signal.
A battle of the production boats with Hull Factors less than 8 are lining up in the IRC 2–B Class. Yu Qianpeng leads the charge with his Beneteau Oceanis 45 Wan Zhu and two Beneteau Oceanis 43's skippered by He Jinhao Haimanyou and Wan Xiangjun from the Hongzhou Yacht Club are reinforcing the Beneteau line. First they have to overcome stiff challenges from Douglas Ross Sparks Hunter 45DS Onie, Xing Zengle's Bavaria 42 SLX Bauhinia and Li Xiaohuan's Bavaria 40 from the New Port Yacht Club before taking the trophy home.
The remaining four Beneteau First 40.7's make up the bulk of the IRC 2-C Class with IRC Hull Factors greater then 8. Zeng Hu's TT, Wang Shaojun's Hainan Luke and He Cheng's Vanke Longcheer are up against the formidable Tiffany Koo and the Sail Training (Shenzhen) Center that she has coached for the past year. Joining them is Pan Weihua's Beneteau Sense 43 Shang He and Lin Yuzhong's Ten 33 Yomovo, that are capable of springing some surprises.
Ten teams are coming together in the Soto 27 One-Design class and as the boat is built in China. this is the largest gathering of the class so far. They will be competing on their own 3-day inshore series of races in Sanya before the big yachts head off on the island courses. Standing out on the entry list, James Maclaren Johnstone from the USA representing the LiuZhou Riviera Yacht Club, Zhang Jun on Qingdao Yachting Association, Liu Zhen's Beijing Slam and Pablo Tseng's Gelun Yacht from Taiwan. If the breeze is up, these flying machines will produce an exciting sailing spectacle not seen in Sanya since the Volvo Race.
SOURCE: bymnews.com
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