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Chinese crew makes waves Down Under

China Daily | Updated: 2019-02-19 09:21
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China's SailGP team, skippered by New Zealander Phil Robertson, in action on day two of the international SailGP event in Sydney Harbour, Australia, on Feb 16, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

China is one of the new kids on the block when it comes to high performance competitive sailing - but that didn't stop the red boat going head to head with the dynamic host team on the final day of the SailGP in Australia.

Stage one of the SailGP closed on Saturday with Australia in front with 48 points, followed by Japan (45), Britain (35), China and France (tied with 33), and the United States (31).

Sydney Harbour staged the first two-day leg of the series, which throughout the year will take the teams to four other stages in three countries.

After a disappointing first race on day two, the Chinese team raced to the early lead from the second start and hounded the Aussies around the course to finish second.

"Obviously not the best start to the day, bringing up the rear, but we rallied pretty hard and managed to get a good start in the second race and lead downwind around the first mark," Chinese skipper Phil Robertson of New Zealand told Xinhua.

After a tight contest at the bottom mark, Australia managed to edge in front, displaying a mix of boat speed and smooth maneuvering which ultimately decided the outcome.

"Unfortunately it didn't really play into our hands, but we were mixing it with them (Australia) which is positive seeing as they won the event. Knowing that when we're on our game we can mix it with the best guys is a good sign," Robertson said.

The Chinese team also claimed bragging rights for the fastest speed during the regatta, a scorching 37.4 knots - almost 70 kilometers per hour.

Chinese crew member Liu Xue said that given his team's lack of experience, their performance was one they can be proud of.

"This regatta is our first sailing in the F50 catamarans so we are quite a new team compared to the others," Liu said.

"But it was a good result today, and we have a long time before San Francisco so we can train a bit more and I think we can do even better than here."

China is one of three nations still in the early stages of developing a team. The other two are Japan and the US. They are currently allowed foreign assistance with the aim of building towards full nationality over the next few years.

SailGP chief executive Russell Coutts said he sees China improving rapidly.

"They haven't yet built the experience level in high-performance boats, so it's almost fast-tracking a development path for these nations and I think that's great," Coutts said.

"The Chinese had a great last race in the fleet racing and that's what we want to see, we want to see competitive racing."

The event's next stage will be in San Francisco in May.

Xinhua in Sydney


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