giggles abound

China Club Challenge Match Youth Division

The inaugural China Club Challenge Match Youth Division supported by China Sports Industry Group (CSIG) and all local agencies was sailed on the waters off Shenzhen Bay Marina and Shekou, Shenzhen over the weekend of 21/22 November. 

With just over 20 Topper dinghies and 8 J-70 the two fleets had 3 races apiece on day 1 with the breeze up enough to see a number of capsizes in the Topper fleet and a couple of the younger lighter teams – some crew members being as young as 12 years old – facing challenges with the spinnaker leading to judges becoming helpers at times. No one was hurt – not even close – and nothing got broken but smiles and giggles abounded amongst the young competitors.

Day two dawned with much les wind, sitting to leeward weather rather than hard hiking but although racing was in doubt for a while Mother Nature played ball enough for the Toppers to get in two races in the morning. The wind shut down completely around lunchtime but the growing sea breeze overcame the gradient breeze resulting in a 180 degree change in the race course and some healthy but not overpowering breeze for the j-70s in the afternoon with the final podium places not decided until the final race which as the series had no discards mattered just as much as any other.

The China Club Challenge Match has, for the past 15 editions been a combination of fleet racing followed by match racing and as it was considered unfair to throw the youngsters in at the deep end but the youngsters should at least have a taste of this other form of racing.

Fortunately two of the on the water judges were top match racers in the region so Jim (USA) and Max (SNG) jumped on boats with the youngsters as crew while Al (GBR) umpired while the ither teams lined the periphery of the course to watch. Max handed Jim a penalty in the pre-start but jim managed to get ahead narrowly avoiding a second penalty at the top mark. Sadly Jim’s crew didn’t get the spinnaker down quickly enough in the penalty and Max sailed through to a narrow win.

I wouldn’t risk putting money on teams NOT practicing their match racing before next year’s event when the match racing will become an integral part of the event. After all it wouldn’t be a proper China Club Challenge Match without it.

Other than the judges – which being international kept things neutral – this was an entirely home grown event and is a true measure of the growth in numbers and depth in both experience and ages of how sailing is growing in China.

If how the adult event has grown from 2 beat up J-24s to the largest one design keelboat event in Asia is anything to go by the future of this event looks to be an exciting prospect.

CSIG and the various agencies of Shekou District of the City of Shenzhen should be congratulated for their vision in their support of this event in what is normally a busy commercial part of the waters off the city.



  1. Meisha Ocean Explorer (11) 2. VMA Ocean Explorer (13) 3. Guangbei Team (18)

Topper 5.3

  1. Shuyi WU (6) 2. Xinjian XIETING (14) 3. Ruiqi SHI (17)

Topper 4.2

  1. Xiaochong MA (10) 2. YuXuan XIAO (12) 3. Yicheng PENG (17)