While some sailors might not like the route that takes them out of the Southern Ocean and into a Chinese port, the fact is that if sailing wants to grow and sailors want multi-million dollar campaigns funded, then cities like Sanya and Qingdao are going to be part of the landscape.
By all accounts, the Volvo Ocean Race in Sanya was a catalyst for an untapped desire by Chinese business people to be part of competitive sailing at the highest levels. Not only do investors in China want to take part, some of them also have the cash to make it happen.
For event organisers, the waking dragon provides enormous opportunities. Already the cities of Qingdao and Sanya have made their intentions known and there will be other Chinese cities who want to be part of the action.
After hosting a successful Volvo Ocean Race stopover, Sanya have scored another coup – the Serenity Marina will become the home-base of the Chinese America’s Cup challenger – China Team.
“Serenity Marina is the first world class marina in China and has all the requirements that China Team needs to be able to train both the international sailors as well as the Chinese sailors whom we are in the process of recruiting. China Team has already received the 2 Ventilo M2 boats that will be used to train the crew before the next America’s Cup World Series in Naples. Sanya is the ideal location for China Team training needs, with its tropical weather and idea sailing conditions all year round”.
Mr Gerard Houa, Managing Director of Sanya Serenity Marina explains:
“Serenity Marina, with its world-class facilities, is the perfect marina to welcome and host China Team, the Chinese challenger for the America’s Cup. Sanya is the yachting destination of China, and Serenity Marina is uniquely positioned to become the Marina for yachting in Sanya. Serenity Marina is completely equipped to handle all yachting needs, and with our 100-ton capacity travel lift, we will also be able to accommodate the larger training boats that China Team will be using for training the Chinese athletes”.
Whether or not the Chinese team make it all the way to the challenger series is yet to be seen, but Theirry Barot is still aiming to be there. He told Scuttlebutt last week:
As you can imagine all the team is very busy working at fund raising, sport preparation and other area to prepare the future. A full presentation of our future program will be announced in early March.”
Just as China is important to the Volvo Ocean Race, a Chinese presence in the America’s Cup has great strategic importance for ACEA and its partners. Of course China is a huge market for the America’s Cup only real sponsor – Louis Vuitton and a few news bulletins mean that a few zeros can be added to the end of the media numbers.
The participation of a Chinese team also has importance to the host city of the next America’s Cup – San Francisco. In a letter to the team, Mayor Lee outlined some of the reasons why the challenge should continue including:
- 1/3 San Francisco residents are from Asian descent, with 1/5 having Chinese roots.
- San Francisco enjoys a sister-city relationship with Shanghai
- 1/3 of California’s imports are from China, but the state also exports a lot of goods the other way.
- More than 60 Chinese companies invest in the bay area accounting for nearly 600 jobs.