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GJW Direct 2020

Chinese-funded team racing against world's best sailors

by ChinaOne Ningbo 5 Jul 2019 04:08 BST
ChinaOne Ningbo with Global Brand Ambassador Hu Bing © Drew Malcolm

Spot the Chinese flag, flying at 30 knots (56 kph) over the Atlantic Ocean in Lagos, Portugal! It’s the first time participation of the fully Chinese-owned sailing team ChinaOne Ningbo in one of the fastest sailing races in the world, the GC32 Racing Tour World Championship, which has thrilled audiences locally and around the globe, and turned the famous actor and fashion icon Hu Bing into a huge fan and supporter for Chinese sailing.

The GC32 is a foiling catamaran with a length of 32 ft (9.75 m). This really is “sailing at the extreme”. Compared to the catamarans used in the last Americas Cup, and relative to the size of the boat, the foils on a GC32 are substantially larger, making the boats more controllable and easier to steer. Nonetheless, the “fast and furious” experience attracts some of the best current and recent America’s Cup sailors to the GC32 circuit, which comprises five events every year.

As the only Asia-flagged team competing in the series, ChinaOne Ningbo finished the final race day on Sunday in very a respectable 8th position. ChinaOne Ningbo sailing team, representing the city of Ningbo, won the M32 World Championships in 2017 and 2018. The team is led by former New Zealand Americas Cup winner CEO Craig Monk, and skippered by Phil Robertson (NZL). In the GC32 World Championships, ChinaOne Ningbo was competing against the best of the best, including recent Americas Cup sailirs from the UK, Switzerland and New Zealand.

At the GC32 Event in Lagos, ChinaOne Ningbo announced the team’s new Global Brand Ambassador, Hu Bing, is a famous Chinese actor and fashion model. Hu Bing was once a was a competitive rower for Team China (ranked 7th in the world), and remains a sports and sailing enthusiast having retired from his own professional sporting career.

In 2007, Hu Bing was in Valencia for AC32 and to help launch “Team China”. The new Brand Ambassador is quite bowled over by the sport of sailing, saying “this is completely different to what I expected. The GC32 World Championship is an enormously challenging and exciting event, and I am thrilled to see a Chinese-flagged sailing team competing in world-class highspeed racing. Being a part of this team has made me feel both honoured and very proud.”

For the GC32 World Championship 2019 in Lagos, ChinaOne Ningbo teamed up with sailors of Team China from SailGP, an international racing circuit recently launched by tech billionaire and passionate sailor Larry Ellison. This is not the first time for them to have a joint crew: the combination is meant to offer more opportunities for Chinese professional sailors. Along with a line-up of Olympians, Volvo Ocean Race champions and some of the sailing world’s most celebrated professionals, ChinaOne Ningbo has been successfully raising the profile of Chinese sailing on the international stage.

Hu Bing said, “This was my first time on a GC32, and I absolutely loved it. It’s an amazing machine. I love to see the team working with so much intensity and precision. Like a performance of ballet dancing.“

Hu Bing was very excited by the “fast and furious” adrenaline rush experience. He added, “China has such an extensive coastline - you see busy trading ports at every turn but few places for sailing. I really hope people will start to learn the joy of sailing and watersports. It’s great that ChinaOne has the support of Ningbo government. I do hope more corporations and brands come forward to support this.”

Philip Sohmen, Co-Chairman of ChinaOne Sailing says, “ChinaOne Ningbo's vision is to create a team that is competitive at the highest levels internationally, to promote sailing in Ningbo and China, develop sailing talent, and put the dynamic port city of Ningbo firmly on the map as an international sailing destination. We are proud to be the only Chinese-flagged team competing in the GC32 Racing Tour.”

Alex Sun, co-founder of ChinaOne Ningbo said, ”We are so thrilled to have Hu Bing as our Global Brand Ambassador. Sailing has a long way to go to becoming a mass-participation sport in China. We hope his involvement will inspire more people to take an interest in sailing.”

About ChinaOne Ningbo

ChinaOne is a professional sailing team bringing together some top international sailors, sponsored by the city of Ningbo, to develop and cultivate Chinese talent and further enhance China’s position on the international stage of world yacht racing.

The vision of ChinaOne Ningbo is: • To compete and succeed in the top levels of international sailing regattas. • To promote water sports development in Ningbo and China through sailing regattas, sailing culture cultivation and exchange. • To enhance corporate brand exposure throughout the world. • Enhance the learning and exchange domestic sailing athletes and international top-level crew. • Actively promote sailing culture and training throughout the Chinese younger generation.

In 2017 and 2018, ChinaOne Ningbo won the M32 World Championship Finals, and was first in total scores in the World Match Racing Tour 2017. In 2018 ChinaOne Ningbo was nominated by China Cup International Regatta as the Best China Sailing Team, along with Clipper Race Sanya Team and Volvo Ocean Race Dongfeng Team.

ChinaOne Ningbo team is skippered by current World Champion Phil Robertson, and the crew brings together top international and Chinese sailors to train and compete together in a spirit of international collaboration.

ChinaOne CEO Craig Monk, two times Americas Cup winner and Olympic medallist for New Zealand, leads skipper Phil Robertson and Chinese Olympic gold medalist Xu Li Jia to cultivate future and current teams. Ningbo and Auckland are sister cities, and the collaborative relationship between the two will surely deliver the next generation of new sailing talent and produce high performing teams on global platforms.

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