After nearly 3000 miles (5556km) in sailing record virgin territory, its nearly time for the B&Q trimaran to head south from the bustling metropolis of Hong Kong towards another country, and another culture – Malaysia. There are 5 ‘hops’ of the Asian Record Circuit to this next voyage, that kick off with an attempt on the Round Hong Kong Island record this Sunday [30.4.06], and finish with the leg in to Terengganu, on the east coast of Malaysia, with an estimated arrival of the 8th of May – subject of course to the variability of the winds through this area which include the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) – better known as the Doldrums.
Over 1300 miles [2407km] separates Hong Kong from Terengganu, (pronounced TRENG-GA-NOO), one of the longest overall spans at sea of the Asian Record Circuit. Once the Round Hong Kong Island record attempt is complete, the team will set off to the final Chinese waypoint in the Asian Record Circuit, the resort town of Sanya. Sanya is on the southernmost point of Hainan Island, and the southwest point of China itself, and therefore marks the end of an eventful and groundbreaking tour of China that started when <> arrived in the northeastern port of Dalian on 1st April. “We’ve seen some extraordinary things, and met some amazing people along the way, and now we are really looking forward to heading south and to experience the new cultures and adventures ahead of us,” said Ellen. “We hear Terengganu is a beautiful and restful place and we are looking forward to having a taste of Terengganu’s exotic culture, fabulous marine facilities and great cuisine!”
This time the team will not stop at Sanya since at present there are not sufficient berthing arrangements, but this growing Chinese resort town is set to welcome sailing vessels in the future, and has been included in the Asian Record Circuit with that in mind as the final Chinese checkpoint. From the Sanya waypoint, B&Q will head south to Vietnam, and the Nha Trang checkpoint, and then on to Tumpai, southern Thailand adding an eighth country to the Asian Record Circuit. From this final checkpoint, B&Q will race towards Terengganu to complete the 1300 nautical miles from Hong Kong.
A warm welcome in Terengganu is expected, where excitement about the visit of Ellen and the trimaran are already building in the Malaysian media. Terengganu hosted the Monsoon Cup match racing sailing event, with the first edition a great success in December last year. The new development at Pulau Duyong, where the trimaran B&Q will be berthed, is a new resort island at the mouth of a river. This is where the Heritage Bay Club is located. The club is the premier stopover point for international sailors, with comfortable first class accommodation. It is hoped that the overall journey from Hong Kong to Terengganu will be established as a regular event for Malaysia, with the possibility of Ellen returning in future years to repeat this passage. The Chief Minister of Terengganu Dato’ Seri Idris Jusoh enthused: “Dame Ellen is very welcome in Malaysia and we will show her how legendary our hospitality can be. Her visit to Kuala Terengganu demonstrates that we are becoming established on the world sailing map.”
The crew onboard B&Q for these five legs has a few changes, with top French sailor Thomas Coville joining as co-skipper for all five legs from Hong Kong to Terengganu. Elaine Chua, the only Asian sailor to compete and finish the solo Mini Transat race, joined the crew in Shanghai and will remain onboard to complete the entire tour. Elaine replaces Shaun Weng, the only Chinese sailor to sail solo around the world, he sailed with the crew from the start of the tour in Yokohama, Japan to Shanghai and has been a great crew member. The intention has always been to offer Asian sailors the chance to race onboard B&Q throughout this tour and Elaine is relishing the challenge as she progresses towards more ambitious solo projects. Remaining onboard will be regular crew Charles Darbyshire and Erwan Lemeilleur and, of course, long-serving Boat Captain Loik Gallon. Ellen will race in the first and final elements of the Hong Kong to Terengganu part of the Asian Record Circuit.
Ellen and Thomas Coville have followed some very similar paths in the solo sailing world. They both competed in the Mini Transat in 1997, Ellen’s first foray in to solo racing. Then Thomas won the Route du Rhum Open 60 Class in 1998, when Ellen won in the Open 50’s. They then both secured sponsorship to compete in the Vendée Globe 2000, Thomas with Sodebo and Ellen with Kingfisher. And last year, Thomas started attacking some of the Atlantic records solo onboard his 60-foot trimaran Sodebo.
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