Newspaper article International New York Times

Evolving into a Global Affair ; Australia's Greatest Race Has Record 28 Boats from Other Countries This Year

Newspaper article International New York Times

Evolving into a Global Affair ; Australia's Greatest Race Has Record 28 Boats from Other Countries This Year

Article excerpt

Of the 109 entries ready to set sail Saturday in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, a record 28 are from outside the country.

Before sailing in Australia's great race from Sydney to Hobart starting Saturday, the competitors and their yachts first had to get to Sydney.

Increasingly, that is quite a journey in itself. The Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, once largely an Australian concern, is becoming more global.

Of the 109 entries this year, a record 28 are from outside the country, which is four more than the previous record.

"I keep saying to the people around at our club here that we are not just a race between Sydney and Hobart; we are an international event," said John Cameron, commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, or C.Y.C.A., which organizes the annual race from Sydney Harbor across the Bass Strait to Hobart on the island of Tasmania.

"I think we're seeing a resurgence in yachting and interest in yachting worldwide, and what we're seeing are people who are prepared to invest a lot of time and effort into getting their boats to come a long way to come out to Australia to be part of our event," he said.

Two of those who came the farthest are also two of the fastest boats in the fleet: Comanche and Rambler 88, which made it to Sydney by container ship from the United States.

But two of the international boats that could have the longest impact on the race sailed to Sydney with their own wind power: Ark 323 and Shuguang Haiyang, the first two yachts from mainland China to take part in the race.

Major professional sailing events have tried to connect with the Chinese market for the last decade. A team representing China challenged for the 2007 America's Cup in Valencia, Spain. And boats representing China have taken part in the Volvo Ocean Race, with Dongfeng Racing finishing third in the 2014-15 edition.

But those campaigns came after considerable outreach, and while the boats sailed under the Chinese flag, many of the crews were non- Chinese (and often French). What is intriguing about the two entrants for the Sydney-Hobart race is that both boats will compete with all-Chinese crews. There are also four Chinese sailors on the Australian entry China Easyway. …

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