Ocean adventure for HK sailors

Sports | May 19, 2017
Hong Kong will be represented in the Volvo Ocean Race for the first time when Scallywag sets sail for the 2017-2018 edition of the prestigious event.

Scallywag, backed by Lee Seng- huang, executive chairman of Sun Hung Kai & Co Ltd, is the fifth entry in the race which for the first time in its 44-year history will also stop at Victoria Harbour in January.

The team will be skippered by veteran Australian sailor David Witt when it competes in the round-the-world race with seven others using identical One Design Volvo Ocean 65 yachts.

Competing in the famous race is the next step in Lee's vision of promoting yachting in Asia and building a lasting youth sailing legacy in the region. Lee owns the supermaxi Scallywag, previously known as Ragamuffin, which had sailed in the Sydney to Hobart race.

"This campaign will showcase world- class competitive offshore sailing ... with the first-time stopovers for the Volvo Ocean Race in Hong Kong and Guangzhou," Lee said. "I have every confidence that Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag will make Hong Kong proud."

Hong Kong-based Witt is returning to the Volvo Ocean Race following a 20-year absence. He competed in the 1997-98 race on board Innovation Kvaerner, the boat led by former race chief Knut Frostad.

A veteran of 20 Sydney to Hobart races, Witt is keen to test his mettle in the Southern Ocean when the fleet heads south later this year.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for the Scallywag team to represent Hong Kong on a truly global stage," said Witt. "With the race returning to a more traditional route and competing in One Design yachts, we feel that we are capable of achieving something that has been a life-long personal dream."

With more than five months to go before the start of the race, the starting grid is filling up.

The other confirmed entries so far are Team AkzoNobel (skippered by Simeon Tienpont, Holland), Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier, China), Team MAPFRE (Xabi Fernandez, Spain) and Vestas 11th Hour Racing (Charlie Enright, USA/ Denmark).

The race will start from Alicante, Spain on October 22, with the fleet capped at eight.

The teams will cover a total of 46,000 nautical miles in a race that features 12 host cities and finishes in The Hague at the end of June 2018.

"We are delighted that Hong Kong will be represented by a syndicate for the first time, especially as it comes during the first-ever Volvo Ocean Race to feature Hong Kong as a leg," said Richard Mason, chief operating officer of the race.

"With a fast yacht, skippered by an experienced captain and the support of Mr Lee, Scallywag promises to be competitive and we are confident that they will be well supported by the public during their historic stopover in Hong Kong."

The fleet is expected to arrive in Hong Kong from Melbourne on January 20. The fleet will also stop in Lisbon, Portugal, Cape Town in South Africa, Auckland, Itajai in Brazil, Newport in the US, Cardiff, Wales and Gothenburg, Sweden.

A series of races will be held in and around the SAR during the stopover. They include the competition race, a Victoria Harbour race and an Around the Island race.

During their stay, the boats will be moored at Kai Tak Runway Park, which will be the home of the Volvo Ocean Race Festival, a 15-day carnival that will be free to the public.

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