Building a legacy: America's Cup 2007.. then Volvo Ocean Race 2008!

China will compete in its first America’s Cup in Valencia this week, and, while no-one thinks that the CHN95 will get close to winning yachting’s most prestigious trophy, the syndicate hopes that the sport might enjoy increased popularity at home. Though China has 11,000 miles (18,000km) of coastline, sailing facilities are virtually non-existent, and drawing young talent into the sport is a challenge. ‘The Chinese people’s lack of interest and knowledge about yachting is really a big problem for the sport,’ said Liu Weidong, vice secretary of China’s Yachting Association in Beijing.

Team China syndicate head Wang Chaoyong, a wealthy venture capitalist who is syndicate head of the Chinese team, believes that China’s participation in sport’s oldest trophy will eventually put the Asian giant on the sailing map. ‘Technology, innovation, teamwork, entrepreneurship – these are the values of China’s society today,’ said Wang. ‘An emerging nation like China should have a team.’

Once the Cup is over, China will turn from racing round the cans to racing across the world’s oceans in the 2008-09 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. It was announced in Beijing today that China has been officially confirmed as a Volvo Ocean Race stopover. A number of Chinese coastal cities will now vie for the right to be selected as host port when the race visits Chinese waters in February 2009, at the time of the local spring festival. Volvo and the China Yachting Association (CYA) have also entered into a co-operation agreement to promote sailing in China. The deal will include a Chinese entry in the race

Race CEO Glenn Bourke said: ‘We believe the race will heighten the interest and participation in sailing in China and Asia.’ The agreement is the culmination of months of negotiations with the Chinese authorities to bring the race to Asia. Further talks are continuing with government and port representatives in India and the Middle East with further announcements expected in the coming months.

Picture: China Team/Remi Villard