Francis Joyon’s IDEC has just been on a promotional visit to Shenzhen, China berthed where they initially told Chinese advisers that it was too shallow for their boat.

Purely a ‘hello, look a me and my sponsor’ type visit with no guest sailing (clearly didn’t speak with the right people) to help promote sailing in China although they ironically signed with China Cup an agreement to promote sailing in China. Let’s hope this is more successful than China Cup’s agreement with the old owners of the World Match Race Tour that really didn’t go anywhere.  As someone interested AND active in helping to advance our sport in China it will be interesting to see what form their initiatives take – it all helps. 

Of course a promotional visit to China always adds to sponsor’s value even if Shenzhen is just round the corner from Hong Kong with a total mileage of less than 60 miles (there and back) and as I have written before the most important piece of any such arrangement is keeping the sponsor happy which, given Joyon’s long association with IDEC, he has been able to do.

In that way he is up there with the likes of Thompson(Hugo Boss), Cammas (Groupama) and perhaps the top of the tree Philippe Poupon who had 9 or 10 boats called Fleury Michon.

The trimaran is now back to Hong Kong to prepare for an attempt to beat the Hong Kong to London record currently held by the MOD70, Maserati at 36 Days, 2 hours and 37 minutes rather grandly and perhaps strangely given the title “The Tea Route”.

I say strangely, as the truly epic Tea Clipper Races weren’t from Hong Kong at all. The closest of these was between Ariel and Taeping in 1866. Leaving from Fuzhou in Fujian (over 400 miles north of Hong Kong) – the two ships docked less than an hour apart with perhaps the most dramatic being between Cutty Sark and Thermopylae in 1872 from Shanghai (820 miles north of Hong Kong)  to London – Cutty Sark, having built a lead of over 400miles, lost her rudder. A new one was built AT SEA taking 6 days before she continued finally arriving in London a week after her rival. Not many racers of today could have managed the feat. Although considered one of the fastest of her generation, she never actually did win a season’s Tea Race.

As one of the current ‘fastest of her generation’ we would wish IDEC rather more success on her attempt on a record of similar distance. 

I have a stainless steel model of her predecessor on my shelf as she was in the hands of Guo Chuan, a Chinese sailing icon, a friend and a good man, when he was lost overboard just north of Hawaii while attempting the solo Trans-Pacific record so more than a little interest in watching this latest IDEC’s progress. – SS.