Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag skipper David Witt has slammed Ocean Race organisers for overlooking Hong Kong as a stopover for the 2021-22 edition, calling the decision “a disgrace” and “huge mistake”. Witt, who guided Scallywag to an emotional victory in Victoria Harbour in January 2018, said Hong Kong sailing had benefited from staging a stopover after leg four of the previous race. He also criticised the negotiating tactics of race organisers, saying it may jeopardise Hong Kong’s chances of gaining future government support for staging big sailing events. “A fantastic platform was set up after team SHK Scallywag, representing Hong Kong, won the leg into Hong Kong in the 2018 Volvo Ocean Race,” said Witt. The Ocean Race: Hong Kong lose out as organisers prefer Shenzhen for the only Asian stop of the 2021-22 event “This promoted competitive sailing in Hong Kong. The decision by the management of the current Ocean Race is a huge mistake. “Furthermore the way the Ocean Race delegate negotiated the possible stopover is a disgrace. They have now made it more difficult for anybody in the future to gain government support for sailing events in Hong Kong.” ️Five stops in China in last five editions ️A lasting Chinese legacy after @DongfengRacing win ️At least one Chinese entry expected for next edition @TheOceanRace will visit in Shenzhen, China in 2021-22 ️ https://t.co/ybAvdnGwYF pic.twitter.com/8S61M4eIEY — The Ocean Race (@theoceanrace) December 17, 2019 The Ocean Race announced last week that Shenzhen would be the only Asian stop of the 2021-22 race, dealing a blow to Hong Kong’s hopes of hosting a stopover for the second straight edition. The Hong Kong government and Hong Kong Sailing Federation (HKSF) were in talks with the Ocean Race for months. Witt would not elaborate on the nature of the negotiations, but HKSF president Tong Yui-shing said Shenzhen was willing to bow to any request made by Ocean Race organisers. The talk among Hong Kong sailing circles is that the value of Shenzhen’s offer was double that of Hong Kong’s. “It’s hard for small Hong Kong to go against China,” said Tong. “China’s offer is a lot more and every request is ‘can do’.” Tong, however, said he was determined to continue his quest to bring major sailing events to Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s Home Affairs Bureau, which was negotiating on behalf of the government, said in response to an SCMP query: “We note that the organiser of the Ocean Race has announced the host cities of the next edition of the race. We respect the decision of individual event organisers and will continue to support the hosting of other major sports events in Hong Kong.” Ocean Race organisers had also yet to respond to SCMP , Other host cities confirmed for 2021-22 are Alicante (Spain), Aarhus (Denmark), The Hague (Netherlands), Cabo Verde, Genoa (Italy), Itajai (Brazil), Cape Town (South Africa) and Auckland (New Zealand). The 2021-22 edition of the Ocean Race will feature two classes of boats – the innovative, foiling Imoca 60 class, along with the one-design VO65 boats that were featured in the last race. Hong Kong hosted the fleet after leg four of the 2017-18 Ocean Race, with Scallywag’s come-from-behind victory energising the sailing scene in the city. Witt is personally involved in helping to develop sailing in Hong Kong and dozens of youngsters are now undergoing training under specialised programmes to produce top-class local sailors. In the previous Ocean Race, China-owned boat Dongfeng became the first mainland entry to win overall honours, beating Spain’s Mapfre 73 points to 70. Team Brunel were third ahead of AkzoNobel, Vestas 11th Hour Racing, Turn the Tide on Plastic and Scallywag. Witt is in Australia preparing the 100-footer version of Scallywag for the prestigious Sydney to Hobart race, which starts on Thursday.