Day three of the China Cup International Regatta on Sunday 27 October 2013, in Shenzhen, saw a clear leader emerge in the competitive 35-boat Beneteau 40.7 fleet, as Zeng Haitao’s Vanke Longcheer won both races in light winds on a very lumpy and bumpy sea. Top Aussie match racing professional Jordan Reece is steering the boat. 'In the first race we were over early on the start line but we battled back,' he said. 'We’ve had good speed all week, the communications on board is good, and it was great to win that race. The next one we took an early lead and held it from there.'
Reece hasn’t sailed the Beneteau 40.7 before, but sails with four other team members on a Farr 40 back in Sydney. 'Pretty happy with the training we’ve done here, and we’re looking forward to seeing if we can get the win tomorrow.'
Last year’s winners of the Beneteau 40.7 division, Vatti Sailing skippered by Jono Rankine, certainly have a lot to do if they’re to catch Zeng Haitao’s runaway boat. With Vanke on 6 points and Vatti on 15, the Kiwis really need the Aussies to slip up tomorrow. For 470 Olympic Champion Jo Aleh, the China Cup is her first foray into competitive keelboat racing. 'We’re happy with how we sailed today, with two clean races. It was easy to get wrong, so we’re happy to get two keepers.'
As to whether they can defend their title? 'It's going to be game on, it’s never over till its over in sailing. We’ve got a bit of battle with a lot of boats close behind and one a fair few points ahead.' Of those biting at Vatti’s heels, closest is Yo! in third place with another 470 Olympic Champion, Nathan Wilmot, calling tactics. 'We’re not quite as fast downwind as some of the other boats but we’ll see what we can do,' said Wilmot.
While there is a clear leader in the Beneteau 40.7s, the other divisions see a number of head-to-head battles developing among the top boats, with just a point here or there between them. In IRC B there is some good friendly banter between the two frontrunners, Tonny Chun’s Talkinghead sitting a point in front of Whiskey Jack skippered by Nick Southward.
Whiskey Jack crewman Guy Nowell said: 'Each of us got a 1 and a 2 today. Tomorrow we’ll take it seriously when we have to, but whatever happens we always have to have a couple of Whiskey Jacks when we hit the dock.' Tonny Chun looked forward to the battle but more than anything was enjoying the camaraderie of the China Cup. 'The racing is efficient, we are having a good time, we have a chance of winning and we have made a lot of friends here this week.'
HuaAn Sailing Team, a McConaghy 38 co-skippered by Li Qing and Dominic Law, continues to lead IRC A, although only by a point from Denis Logutenko’s Russky Team, with Yan Yuye’s Sea Wolf and Frank Pong’s Jelik still within striking distance. HuaAn’s helmsman, former 49er sailor from Sweden Peter Backe, said the big rolling swell with light winds did not suit their broad-beamed powerful hull shape. 'Starting after the Beneteau 40.7s, you were faced with a wall of bad air to break through,' he said, 'and it was hard to find a lane. But we managed to tack our way out and had a pretty good day considering the difficult conditions.'
In the Soto 27 one-design fleet, one of China’s most accomplished female Olympic sailors, Song Xiaqun has justified the faith put in her appointment to the helm of Team Alpha Pirates, by leading the division. 'We didn’t have a great first day, but today was much better and it is good to be leading. I think we have a really good team spirit,' she said.
Tonight the teams attend another lavish banquet and prizegiving ceremony at the Sheraton Hotel Dameisha. On Monday the China Cup concludes with a two-race day, including a round-the-island medium distance race.
by Andy Rice
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8:56 PM Sun 27 Oct 2013GMT
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