unlucky 13?

Last year’s challenge with the China Club Challenge Match, or Club Cup as it is affectionately known was that 48 hours prior to the event, the largest tropical storm of the year, (statistics later showed it was the most powerful storm anywhere in 2016) made a direct hit on Xiamen, the venue for the event.
4 of the boats due to be used in the boat were sunk or dismasted along with many others.
To this day I am still amazed that they managed to pull it off and every entrant had a race ready boat on the morning of the first day and that was for 30 teams.
Two days out from the event this year the exact opposite appears to be the case. The forecast for the whole event looks to be light and fluky. With the tides being close to the Equinox as a further test, sailors wind sniffing skills will be at a premium.
The event, in its 13th iteration – making it comfortably the oldest regatta of significance in China and as it is only for Chinese sailors and/or teams has a special significance (note the absence of the word “international” in the event name).
It started rather ingloriously as a challenge between Ironrock Sailing Club, Xiamen and Zhuhai Sailing Club in two beat up J24s and has grown over the years in size, stature and most certainly quality both off the water and of course that shown by the teams on the water. Many years at a de-briefing session, one of the umpires mentioned that a dial up had never been seen at the event and the mechanics were explained on the whiteboard – next morning there were 6. They learn fast in China!
Only two people have been involved in every event. One Wei Jing, known affectionately as ‘The Captain’ had an interesting experience many years ago. He took a photographer from the local newspaper out sailing to get some shots for the paper when the fog came down. Strong tides off Xiamen but also off Xiamen is an off-lying island that is part of Taiwan – just 1,500m off the Chinese coast and you guessed it, they ran aground on Jimen (Taiwan).
With the photographers fancy cameras the Taiwanese authorities were suspicious and The Captain spent (I am told) some 3 months in a Taiwanese prison as a spy until the matter could be cleared up. Even if it is just scuttlebutt it is a great story but I am assured it is 100% true. No such worries this weekend! Back to the event!
The quality of officials has also had to be raised to meet the sailors growing expectations. In the early days it was knowledgeable, experienced sailors who took to the water with the flags. These days there are two International Umpires on the water for the event with this year’s finals being umpired by 3 IUs and an NU – no place to hide.
Perhaps an unusual format with the first stint of racing being in a fleet with on the water judging using Addendum Q – the same rules as Olympic Medal Races – and with an entry list pushing 50 the umpires will need to keep their eyes out of the boat, that’s for sure.
The top eight teams from the fleet racing return 1 month later for the match racing element which starts off with a round robin. This event regularly puts in 20+ races a day during the match racing – long enough for the sailors but spare a thought for the umpires who are out there EVERY race.
Updates will follow as time allows. – Shanghai Sailor.