Hong Kong sailor Tiger Mok named in Scallywag crew for Volvo Ocean Race debut

Skipper David Witt confirms nine-man group ahead of epic 46,000-nautical mile adventure, which officially begins in Spain in October

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 August, 2017, 12:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 04 August, 2017, 10:10pm

Skipper David Witt hailed the inclusion of local sailor Tiger Mok in the Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag crew for their Volvo Ocean Race debut, with the group containing a mix of rookies and veterans as well as a former winner.

Australian Luke Parkinson won the trophy as a rookie with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing during the last edition in 2014–15 and joins veteran navigator Steve Hayles on the crew, which is backed by Sun Hung Kai & Co executive chairman Lee Seng-huang.

Also named in Witt’s squad are New Zealand’s Mark Fullerton, who raced with Brunel in 2005-06, Briton John Fisher and Australian trio David Mann, Alex Gough and Ben Piggott.

“Tiger is Hong Kong born and bred, and he’s a great sailor,” Witt said on the Volvo Ocean Race website, with crews required to contain two members who are aged under 30 at the end of the race in July 2018.

“He will race some legs – and he’s also the back-up navigator, so will do a lot of onshore navigation and work closely with Steve.

“Having him on board will help to build the profile of the sport in the region, and encourage kids in Hong Kong to see that there’s a real future in offshore sailing.”

The Scallywag crew had their first taste of competitive Volvo Ocean 65 action in the opening stage of Leg Zero during the Cowes Week Round Isle of Wight Race on Wednesday and now prepare to tackle the Rolex Fastnet Race, which departs on Sunday.

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The Volvo Ocean Race starts from Alicante in Spain on 22 October, with the fleet capped at eight Ocean 65 yachts.

Teams will cover a total of 46,000 nautical miles stopping at 12 host cities – including Hong Kong in early 2018 – and finishing in The Hague in the Netherlands at the end of June 2018.

“I’m delighted to have a crew of guys I’ve known for a long time. They’re all great sailors, and we’ve done a lot of miles together over the years,” said Witt.

“We want to create a team ethos where everyone can reach their potential in whatever their role is – and to do that, you’ve got to trust and respect each other 100 per cent.

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“We’re all a team and want to succeed in a team, but we recognise that part of our role is to promote and let everyone be as good as they can in an individual role in the team without ego or conflict.”

Navigator Hayles returns to the event after almost a decade, having made his debut as a 20-year-old on board Reebok/Dolphin & Youth in 1993-94 – and still holds the title as the youngest ever navigator to compete in the event.

Hayles went on to compete in five consecutive races over 15 years, on-board Silk Cut in 1997-98, Team Tyco in 2001-02, Ericsson in 2005-06 and Green Dragon in 2008-09.

“We’ve finished with our squad selection for now, but the only thing that’s up in the air with us is whether we need to take more crew on the boat or not,” said Witt, who will be restricted to a crew of seven if the team remains all-male.

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“Right now, we’re playing catch up a little bit with all of the idiosyncrasies of the boat. We still think we’re on the right track going with minimal crew – but we’re still open, and that could change as the race draws nearer.”

Rules introduced last year reduced the size of an all-male crew from eight to seven, although one or two women can be added.

A crew can also contain seven women and one or two men, or five men and five women, or 11 women.

Watch: Scallywag skipper David Witt