China To Make Sydney-Hobart Debut

For the first time, mainland China will be represented at the Sydney-Hobart race by a team of 12 national sailors.

Ark 323 training near China.

Mainland China will make its debut in the 71st edition of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, joining two other internationals and 14 Australians who were quick in signing up after entry opened last Friday.

Serena Cai, who is managing the Chinese yacht, Ark323, said the Chinese team could not wait to put their entry in, aware the race had attracted entries from Hong Kong in the past, but never from mainland China and never with a full Chinese crew.

Cai said today: "Ark323 is a purely Chinese entry; a Chinese owner, crew and administrators. The yacht is representing Noah Sailing Club in Shanghai, but we do have a coach from New Zealand. The boat is owned by Noah's Group, which is led by Wilson Lee and sponsored by E-commerce company"

Lee, a Chinese businessman who lived in Australia for a time, said, “We made a decision to enter the Rolex Sydney Hobart because of the nature of the prestigious event, the challenge it presents. It is also one of the ultimate platforms to showcase the Chinese team and the Club’s passion to increase a Chinese presence at international yachting events.”

The team consists of 12 male sailors, drawn from the best the country has to offer. They come from all points of China and have a wide range of sailing skills. Training together since March, Serena Cai says, “They are very excited to be the first crew from mainland China to enter the race.”

To be skippered by Robert Hielkema, Ark323 is a TP52, best known under her previous identities of 'Sled' and 'Warpath'. She will be sailed to Australia from Sanya, where Australian Genevieve White is currently helping prepare the boat's safety equipment and supervising marine safety training.