Chinese yachtsmen race for sailing's future

Updated: 2012-10-03 11:08

By Chen Jia in San Francisco (China Daily)

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Chinese yachtsmen race for sailing's future

Wang Chaoyong, says the spirit of the America's Cup - team-work, entrepreneurship and innovation - is what China needs today. Beck Diefenbach / Reuters

China Team is gearing up for the second America's Cup World Series this week with the future of sailing in China in their hands and in the wind.

"I want to help resurrect the sailing culture that has been lost (in China) since about 150 years ago," Wang Chao-yong, president and CEO of China Equity Group, who sponsors the team, said in San Francisco.

"I think the spirit of the America's Cup is what China needs today as a society. The concept of teamwork, entrepreneurship, innovation, that's what China needs right now."

The second America's Cup series begins on Wednesday with qualifying races for the match racing championship, which begins on Thursday. There are seven fleet races scheduled before the event concludes on Sunday.

"We have had our America's Cup team, as well as the Olympic sailing in Qingdao, the China Cup, the Volvo Ocean Race stopover, and all of these have helped to raise the profile of sailing in China," said Wang.

The team is also supported by the State General Administration of Sport and the Chinese Yachting Association.

"All of this has meant more public interest in sailing," he added. "People are now looking at sailing as a leisure activity, a lifestyle choice, and this is something new and growing very quickly.

"We have decided to take a longer-term view. Instead of working with international talent just to get better results now, we are looking to incubate our homegrown talent, and the Red Bull Youth America's Cup fits into that strategy very well."

The Red Bull Youth America's Cup is a stepping stone for young sailors toward competing for the oldest trophy in international sports, and sailing's prestigious prize, the America's Cup.

The event lures not only the top sailors and yacht designers from around the world, but also wealthy entrepreneurs and sponsors. It is a high-profile international race not only of sailing skills, but also of fund-raising and management ones.

At a launch ceremony on the weekend, China Team celebrated with a colorful dragon dance in San Francisco - a traditional performance believed to bring good luck.

"The city has a long history of close ties with China and one of the largest overseas Chinese populations. We've received a very warm welcome and strong support from the local Chinese community," Wang said.

All 11 teams that competed in the first America's Cup series in San Francisco in August return, including the teams from United States, Sweden, Italy, Britain, New Zealand, France and South Korea.