Wanhang Longcheer has won back the Beneteau 40.7 trophy at the 12th China Cup, after losing out to Yiihua-Pocket Emirates Team New Zealand a year ago.
Steve McConaghy suffered a stressful few hours in the morning wondering if he was going to have to defend a slender two-point lead from fellow Australian Ray Roberts. But the wind never materialised and final-day racing was cancelled for the 108-boat fleet.
Although one of the favourites in the eyes of his rivals, McConaghy professed to be surprised at winning the 25-boat Beneteau division, even if he’s won this regatta many times before. “We came into the regatta not expecting to win because we had a brand new team. We were three Aussies and only one of our seven Chinese crewed sailed with us before. We’re absolutely over the moon to have won.”
McConaghy put his win down to a key moment on the run to the finish of the long distance race on Sunday. “We were neck and neck with Ray Roberts and the Kiwis, but then we got into slightly better current, and hooked into a 15 degree shift. That enabled us to gybe with a good angle into the finish and we just beat them. That moment was probably the difference.
“We’ve been battling it out all week against Ray and the other solid teams, from Spain and South Africa, and of course the Kiwis are always a challenge. The showdown was all set for today against my old boss Ray.”
His old boss Ray was disappointed not to have had a crack at the trophy on the final day. “In sailboat racing you need wind and we didn’t get it today,” said the skipper of BoomEgg – JoyOurs Team and veteran of 30 Rolex Sydney Hobart Races. “That was a bitter feeling for us as we were close to first place, and we felt we had the speed and ability to take on the eventual winner. We like to think we gave him a tough challenge but they were a strong competitor.
“Steve is a friend of mine and we sailed together as boat owner and tactician for 15 years and we won just about every regatta in Asia, and we won the first ever China Cup. Steve’s a great sailor but in this regatta he was my enemy. Friendship fades away and we tried to beat him. Nearly, but not quite.” Finishing in third place was Jono Rankine’s Cheung Kong Sailing Club Team, with the South African PerDormire Team in fourth and last year’s winners Yiihua-Pocket Emirates Team New Zealand in fifth place.
In IRC A, Standard Insurance Centennial Sailing Team from the Philippines beat Shawn Kang’s Lighthorse Alpha+ on tiebreak. It was another tiebreak in IRC A2, where the Soto40 Seamo Racing skippered by Guo Ji Lan lost out to Tiffany Koo’s Hero Racing. Koo, a many-time winner at the China Cup, was not sad about the lack of sailing today. “I’m relieved not to race today because our boat doesn’t do well in wind under 5 knots,” said the Malaysian skipper, who was happy to have held off the strong challenge from Seamo Racing. “We had two long distance and one island courses and my boat doesn’t like to do reaches, it prefers up and down racing. So we’re happy to have held on to the win.”
Ocean Link – Dalian Maritime University Sailing Team, a Comet 51S skippered by Mu Shijia, dominated IRC B from start to finishing, winning all but one race. Nick Southward’s J/109 Whiskey Jack displayed a similar level of consistency to dominate IRC C. Respective winners of HKPN Divisions A and B were Yan Yongheng’s Grand Soleil 40 Madison Group XT, and Gary Leung’s Bavaria 42 Marmalade. Tao Chong’s Team Yunxinghui won the Bavaria 37 class and a string of perfect bullets delivered easy victory in the ASAF Keel Boat class for Emerson Villena and his Philippine Sailing Association-Standard Insurance Team.
This evening the victors will be celebrated at the Closing Ceremony at the Marriott Hotel. Many of this year’s competitors will be back this time next year for the 13th edition of the China Cup International Cup.
by Andy Rice, SailingIntelligence.com