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Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18

The first Chinese skipper at the Volvo Ocean Race? – Horace Chen prefers to focus on the next generation of mainland sailors

The 26-year-old has a great future ahead of him but, for the moment, wants to develop future stars at his Shenzhen sailing school

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 January, 2018, 5:31pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 January, 2018, 11:06pm

Horace Chen Jinhao has the potential to become the first Chinese skipper of a Volvo Ocean Race boat, but the humble yet tough 26-year-old from Shenzhen is, for the moment, more concerned about the next generation of mainland sailors.

Chen – whose rise as a world-class sailor was made possible by the Hong Kong owner of well-known local yacht Jelik, Frank Pong – set up a sailing school in Shenzhen soon after competing in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) for Chinese entrant Dongfeng Race Team.

And as Dongfeng heads towards Hong Kong at the end of the fourth leg of the 2017-18 race, Chen is keen to meet his family and students who made the trip to Kai Tak Terminal to greet him.

“I’m looking forward to arriving in Hong Kong, it is a second hometown for me. It is where my sailing dreams started,” said Chen.

“I am keen to educate the younger sailors,” he added in an interview with VOR website. “And that’s why I opened up the sailing school in Shenzhen.

“Sailing is not only about having fun, it is also about teaching the children to think in a logical way. I believe sailing is one of the ways to show children the value of the old saying ‘think twice before you take action’. I am sure sailing will be a lesson for life for them.”

Dongfeng was expected to be the third boat to come into Hong Kong on Saturday morning, although they were gaining on second-placed Vestas 11th Hour Racing on the final stretch.

Being close to Shenzhen and with Pong’s connection, Hong Kong is close to the heart of Chen. And his students will be on hand to support the Dongfeng team when they take part in in-port races in Hong Kong.

Bowman Chen is one of three Chinese sailors aboard Dongfeng, along with Black Liu Xue and Wolf Yang Jiru. In the previous VOR, Chen was selected for six of the nine legs – more than any other Chinese sailor as Dongfeng finished third overall behind Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Brunel.

Chen had strong sailing experience even before the previous VOR, having crewed on Pong’s Jelik and taking part in the America’s Cup World Series and Extreme Sailing Series.

Charles Caudrelier, skipper of Dongfeng for the past two VORs, said Chen was the best rookie at the 2014-15 race, adding: “His improvement, energy and motivation is huge. Horace could be the first Chinese skipper in the Volvo Ocean Race.”

Chen, though, is refusing to get ahead of himself, preferring to gain more experience in major races around the world.

“The last race was the first time that we had participated in the Volvo Ocean Race,” said Chen of the 2014-15 series. “I remember I was very curious and excited when we got to the race start three years ago. But this time I was much calmer because I knew what was coming. I always say to myself ‘I am still here to learn’ and I always try to keep calm and modest.”