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2023 World Bay Area Regatta practice race

by Guy Nowell 13 Dec 2023 17:50 PST 14-17 December 2023
World Bay Area Regatta 2023 © Guy Nowell

The inaugural World Bay Area Regatta fired up today with a practice race.

The event is an adjunct to the World Match Racing Tour 2023 Finals being held in Bao'an, Shenzhen, and is an invitational event designed to "foster exchanges about sailing culture within the bay areas' sailing community and enhance the sailing skills of participants, and to strengthen connections among bay areas worldwide." There's some very skilled PR rationalisation there. Think: San Francisco Bay Area, Sydney Bay Area (presumably Sydney harbour), New York Bay Area, et al. There's a Philippines team in the entry list, so that would be Manila Bay Area.

Boats being sailed are 16-odd Beneteau 40.7s, ten FE28s, and ten J/80s. Teams are drawn from the local Greater Bay Area, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, Macau, France, Philippines, USA, Canada, and Shanghai. The allotted racing area is a very restricted space within an 'urban bay' on the west side of Shenzhen, carefully selected to show off the "picturesque coastline and marine ecosystem" of Bao'an. Today's practice race was intended to be a windward/leeward course, but the wind direction called for a windward mark less than a half-mile from the start, so PRO Simon James smartly converted to a good ole Olympic triangle-sausage-triangle. This was especially appropriate as organisers have ruled 'no spinnakers' for the Beneteau fleet for fear that the competitors are not sufficiently competent to handle them. That's what they said. Top class international sailors from Bay Areas, please take note.

Each class (Beneteau, FE28, J/80) got one start today. In fact, it was a practice day for more than the sailing - getting to the sailing venue (shuttle bus: 45mins on account of traffic, not distance), getting a ferry ride across to the WBA Regatta pontoon, prepping boats, and in my case finding the media boat and the media centre. It will al be smoother and easier tomorrow.

This evening's Opening Ceremony for the WMRT Finals and WBA Regatta was bigger than Ben Hur and Cleopatra combined, but without Elizabeth Taylor. Appropriate dignitaries made the appropriate speeches: Shenzhen, apparently, "aspires to become a globally recognised hub for sports, a global marine centre, and a key player in the global consumption arena."

And then it was time for dinner. See you on the shuttle bus tomorrow.

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