Is this bitter nit-picking or a legitimate complaint?

The China Cup International Regatta was run over the weekend of 25th – 28th October on the waters off Shenzhen, China. In places it was so Mickey mouse one could almost imagine the Sailing Instructions were authored by Walt Disney.

The tone was set at the first day press conference where a representative of China Cup was asked the difference between The America’s Cup and China Cup and which was better.
The response was hilarious ‘Well the America’s Cup only has 2 boats and China Cup has 94 so obviously China Cup is better.’ Apparently the rest of the world disagrees with less than 6,000 total views on Youtube of the (largely 2 minute videos) from China Cup 2012 while the 2 hour offering of the last race of the AC has hit nearly ¾ of a million.

The headline class was the 35 strong Beneteau 40.7 fleet. This is a charter class, supposedly one design, but the boats were hardly equal. Most teams sailed with the supplied sails, paneled Kevlar from Hong Kong Sailmaker, UK Sails but the eventual winners Longcheer Yacht Club bought a set of locally produced paneled laminate sails with a scrim pattern suspiciously like a 3DL copy. They also had a ‘droopy boom’ suggesting a little bit of oversizing going on too!

Final addition was a total lack of Longcheer Yacht Club members on the boat, instead it was peppered with antipodean hot shots with a fair collection of world championships and medals between them. Strange that a yacht club can’t crew a boat with its own yachties. In second place was Vatti Team, the event sponsors, also full of hot shots – but at least they aren’t a yacht club and pros on board can be expected from a commercial team (they used the paneled sails and found it impossible to match Longcheer’s pace with the better sails). 3rd place Yo! protested the sails on the eventual winner and were effectively told to go away – ie their protest was thrown out by the 5 man international jury. As one Yo! crewmember Jamie Wilmot said “If you have a fleet of charter boats, they should all have the same sails.” It was a bit like racing a Porsche with a Volkswagen really.

Local 40.7 Team Tiger also had laminate sails, genuine North Sails this time, but at least they had the decency NOT to compete in the one design class. Only question there is why not IRC for which they have a certificate, instead choosing to dominate HKPN A with a score of 5 bullets throwing away a 2nd place but at least their win was unquestionable.

The Race management also left a bit to be desired with on Day 2 knowing the wind was light (they too were there after all) and knowing there were 3 races scheduled, set a course that took 3 hours to complete (by about half of some fleets – the rest DNF’d) and then crammed two 40 minute sprints in so they could ‘stay on schedule’. Then on the final day with the SI’s stating there could be no starts after 2pm and windward/leeward and an Island Race to complete (the published order) decided to run the latter first meaning that teams were off the water and on the dock by 3pm even though there was plenty time for the windward leeward. There would have been plenty time to run both if the published order had been maintained.

Racing was tight in some of the classes however with RHKYC entry, Nick Southward’s J-109 Whiskey Jack, going into the final day one point down only to turn it around with 2 bullets to take the top spot in IRC B on countback. They have ‘podiumed’ before in China Cup but this was their first overall victory. IRC A was won by the locally built (Zhuhai) and Hong Kong owned MC38, HuaAn Sailing Team driven for most of the week by Hong Kong match racer Peter Backe while the second HuaAn team won HKPN Division 2

Proof that you can fool some of the people all of the time, one owner commented “the organization has got better and better” and sure many sailors had an enjoyable few days sailing on new waters but “better than the America’s Cup?

I don’t think so! – Fan Chuan