The stage is officially set for the Sun Hung Kai & Co. Hong Kong Race Week 2024, incorporating the 2024 29er Asian Championship. Racing for the 8th edition of the event begins tomorrow with young sailors from Asia and beyond.
A cracking opening ceremony today was officiated by Hong Kong Race Week Regatta Chairman Peter Davies, Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club Commodore Lucy Sutro, Sailing Federation of Hong Kong, China Vice President David Fan, Hong Kong Sports Institute Chief Executive Tony Choi, Leisure and Cultural Services Department Senior Leisure Manager Alice Ho, Sailing Federation of Hong Kong, China Honorary President Karl Kwok, Chinese Yachting Association Vice-chairman Zhang Ji Wen and Sun Hung Kai & Co Ltd. Deputy CEO Tony Edwards.
Peter Davies said "Hong Kong Race Week started with a vision to host high quality International regatta with quite a few objectives to do that partly to showcase Hong Kong, partly to inspire young sailors in Hong Kong to progress sail and also to prepare sailors for overseas competition. This is now extended this year with a large entry coming from Mainland China. For many of them, I think this might be their first experience of a large international regatta. “
271 sailors are competing in what is already shaping up to be a fantastic event that runs from 31 January to 4 February. 10 countries and regions will be represented including Australia, Canada, Hong Kong (China), Ireland, Japan, Macau (China), Mainland China, Singapore, Thailand and the USA. A great week of fierce competition is expected from this talented group of sailors.
Half of the entries came from host city Hong Kong, China, while the second largest participating group comes from the Mainland of China where more than one third of the total participants have travelled from different provinces and cities including Shenzhen, Hainan, Shanghai, Fujian and Qingdao. 91 sailors come from 13 sailing clubs; among them are some competitive national sailors including nine boys and four girls who are the top Chinese young sailors of 2023. Chen Jin Hao Horace, a World class Chinese sailor who set up his own Sailing Club three years ago, described how Hong Kong plays a crucial role in the Greater Bay Area for young sailors to get exposed to an international racing environment. Chen said “Hong Kong has an international sailing culture and so sailors who have been training in China and being used reading sailing instructions and documents written in Chinese, can get international experience and compete against international sailors right on their doorstep. With Hong Kong being on the global stage in sailing, it’s a good training and learning opportunity for the sailors to become international players.
Macau (China) is represented by a group of nine sailors competing in three single handed classes (Optimist green, intermediate and ILCA 4). Thailand and Singapore have formed a star-studded team of three sailors, including Optimist sailor Adison Ein who was crowned 1st Overall in the HKODA Open and National Championships 2023 and who also earned 7th Place in Phuket King’s Cup Regatta 2023. All eyes will be on Singaporean sailor Isaac Goh, who clinched the silver medal in the Boys ILCA 4 Single Handed event at the Asian Games; racing against Hong Kong local star sailors Stephanie Norton and Nancy Highfield in ILCA 6.
The most senior sailor of the race is travelling from Ireland, Roy Van Maanen who has longed to join Hong Kong Race Week but his aspirations had been disrupted by Covid. This ILCA 6 enthusiastic sailor has always wanted to race against the best ILCA sailors from Asia.
Ten classes are competing on four racetracks and will sail up to 16 races over the Race Week. The classes include 29er, 2.4mR, ILCA 4, ILCA 6, Optimist Main Fleet, Optimist Intermediate Fleet, RS Feva along with development fleets of Optimist Green Fleet, Fusion Green Fleet and Pico Green Fleet.