Marine officials scupper regatta

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 October, 2010, 12:00am

There was a false start in the China Cup International Regatta yesterday when the Marine Department refused to let the race begin in Hong Kong waters because some entrants did not have a necessary document.

The regatta's first leg was supposed to be a passage race from Hong Kong to Shenzhen.

Now the yachts will sail to Daya Bay in Shenzhen for the start of racing.

As well as having an international regulation licence, competing yachts must have a Hong Kong pleasure vessel operator's certificate of competency if they are to sail competitively from the special administrative region.

The marine department made this clear to organisers before the regatta began. Some of the yachts competing did not fulfil these requirements so it was decided to scrap the leg from Hong Kong.

'All the teams had an international licence but not everyone had the Hong Kong licence,' regatta spokesman Leon Chou said.

'The Hong Kong Marine Department made this clear to us if the race was to start in Hong Kong waters.

'It's unfortunate but we will have an extra leg in Shenzhen to make up for the loss of the race from Hong Kong.'

The race was supposed to start southeast of Hong Kong in Cheung Chau waters.

A Marine Department spokesman said: 'We made it clear to the [Royal] Hong Kong Yacht Club that those participating had to have a valid operating licence for the vessel and also a valid local pleasure operator on board if the race was to take place.

'After we made this clear to them they decided to cancel this leg of the regatta.'

The China Cup International Regatta is in its fourth year of competition and has developed into one of the definitive sailing regattas in Asia.

In all, 80 teams from around the world are competing this year, including participants from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Britain, France, Israel, Turkey, China, Thailand, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong.

One of the highlights is the Sailing Spirit Award given to an individual for his or her outstanding contribution to sailing and marine culture development in China.

In addition to the action on the water, the regatta, which will end on Monday, will also feature a line-up of arts and cultural events in Shenzhen over the weekend.