Israel among 30-strong Beneteau 40.7 fleet to compete in China Cup regatta
Turning up at the start line was in itself a victory for Team Israel, one of 18 countries to face the starter's gun as the sixth China Cup got under way off Green Island yesterday.
The 30-strong Beneteau 40.7 fleet - which makes the event the largest one-design regatta in Asia - was among 91 boats that began the 34 nautical mile passage race from Hong Kong to Shenzhen.
"This is the only race in Asia where Team Israel is entered," said skipper Gil Blum. "It is our fifth year we are taking part in the China Cup. Last year we finished eighth and we have hopes of doing better this time, but just taking part in this race itself is a victory for us."
The China Cup comprises the passage race from Hong Kong to Shenzhen plus four more days of offshore racing in Daya Bay, Shenzhen. Apart from the Beneteau boats, other racing divisions competing are the Far East 26, the Soto 27, the HKPN Class and the IRC Division.
"Israel takes part in a lot of sailing events in Europe, but this is the only race in Asia we take part in and that is due to our close ties with China," Blum added.
Team Israel will have their work cut out winning the race as some of the world's most famous and celebrated sailors are racing in the Beneteau fleet.
Michel Desjoyeaux winner of two around-the-world Vendée Globes, is at the helm of Team Beneteau China and fellow-Frenchman Gery Trenteseaux skippers Courrier Team, returning to the China Cup for the third time. Defending champions the Beijing Sailing Centre are back with skipper Rick Pointon.