China Team member says sailing 'more complex than basketball'

China Team digs in - AC World Series - Plymouth 2011 - Training Day 4
China Team, the official challenger for the 34th America’s Cup, has exceeded all expectations in the races on Sunday in Plymouth. The new crew has reached fifth position over the two days of sailing, and third in the time trials on Sunday. The weather conditions on Sunday were extremely windy and gusty and at the upper limit for racing; the conditions were extreme and the race saw a number of capsizes and boats damaged. China Team did an excellent job in controlling the AC45 and, while there were a number of close calls, the crew was able to handle the boat to not reach the tipping point.

For the speed trial, China Team was powered by two Chinese sailors among the crew of five, and reached third position.

[We believe that a 500m ‘time trial’ is just a show-off for the non-sailing crowd. It is entirely meaningless in racing terms – you get a good gust, or you don’t. Ed]

It was the first sailing experience for Ma Jian, the famous Chinese basketball player who has joined China Team training to be one of the Chinese sailors to be part of the crew on the AC72 for the America’s Cup final in San Francisco in summer 2013. China Team on target to reach its pledge to be a true Chinese challenger, powered by mainly Chinese sailors on a China-build boat. Ma Jian’s reaction when he got off the boat was one of amazement and surprise. 'I never realised how different this would be to basketball. I thought that being a strong athlete would be enough, but now I relies that this sport is a lot more complex than basketball, as the nature elements (wind, water…) are all very unpredictable and play a big role in the strategy of sailing. Also balance, I realise that you need a lot more balance to be a great sailor. I have a lot of work in front of me to become a top sailor. This sport requires more than discipline, it requires skills that most professional athletes do not have. I need to work so hard, but I can do it. But I believe that there are many young adults in China who would have the skills to do this, and train and become one of the best sailors. I have a better understanding now and I want to encourage people who believe they can join the team to train.'