Rolex China Sea Race, 50th Anniversary - Oh my Darling!

Rolex China Sea Race 2010. Dean Chisholm, Darling.
Darling, a Hanse 400, is named after Grace Darling, an English Victorian heroine who assisted her lighthouse-keeper father in saving 13 shipwrecked people in a rowing boat on the evening of 7 September 1838 off the Northumberland coast - when it was too rough for the local life boat to be launched.

Dean Chisholm, Darling’s owner, is hoping to channel Grace’s grit and determination when he and his crew set off on 4 April on the Golden Anniversary edition of the Rolex China Sea Race. Chisholm is no stranger to the Race, having participated six times previously. By the end of the Race, he will have completed his tenth crossing of the South China Sea. 2012 marks Darling’s second Rolex China Sea Race.

'I've always enjoyed the China Sea Races. They are never the same and on a slower boat that takes a little longer, it is a real test to manage the crew over three to five days.' says Dean.

Darling’s Hong Kong-based all-male crew are a mixed bag of nationalities - English, Scottish, Australian and Danish 'with no professionals or boat boys, so we will have to pitch in on all tasks' offers the owner, adding, 'there is a wide range of experience; with myself having the most experience to a couple of China Sea Race 'virgins' - although one virgin has a spot of prior Cat 1 experience on the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race'.

Chisholm and his crew are all set. 'Offshore racing is unique. There is a lot of preparation and hard work for Cat 1 racing. It's all worthwhile out at sea with no two races begin the same. Dolphins alongside at dusk are captivating. Steering at night under the stars on long ocean waves with the spinnaker up is magic!'

The crew’s biggest challenge is predicting the wind correctly. 'You talk about the wind before, during and after the race over many a beer' says the investment professional, who is hoping to pace Darling against the other 40 foot cruisers over the water.

Chisholm is particularly looking forward to the 2012 Race. 'For a race like this to have been raced over 50 years shows real enthusiasm and support of the members and staff who participate and organise. It's just something every big boat sailor wants to be part of. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and Rolex should feel a real sense of pride and honour.'

With only nine days to go until Race start, Dean is keen to thank the really important people however, namely 'the wives and families for putting up with us spending time away from them before, during and after the race to make it all happen.'

Rolex China Sea Race 2010. Gareth Williams, the Phantom Piper of the China Sea.