RCAF sailboat racer competes at prestigious Hong Kong event
By Ryan Melanson,
One of Formation Halifax’s top sport sailors is back from testing his racing skills overseas against some of the best in the world.
Capt Mike Evans, a Weapons Tactics Analyst at Trinity, led a 12-man crew in a Beneteau 40.7 sailboat through the China Cup International Regatta 2017, a massive four-day racing event in and around Hong Kong that saw more than 1,500 sailors from 40 different countries compete in a series of inshore races.
This year was the event’s 11th instalment, and the fourth year for Capt Evans, who sails representing Sail Canada and the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Club. The regatta has grown each year to the point where it now takes over a part of the city with a festival-like atmosphere, attracts sailing’s top professionals and brings in plenty of big-money sponsors.
“It’s truly a spectacle, and you pinch yourself that you get the chance to be there in the middle of it,” said Capt Evans, who assembled a civilian team of eight Canadians from various yacht clubs, along with other sailors from Germany, New Zealand and China, to take on the difficult races.
His team finished 17th in a field of 30 in the Beneteau 40.7 fleet category, in which each team competes in an identical sailboat to allow the sailors to race on equal terms. Finishing 17th was far from a disappointment for the crew, however. In a field packed with professionals, including the winners of this year’s America’s Cup race in Bermuda, the team finished ahead of all the other non-professional crews in the fleet, earning a trophy for top amateur performance.
With only two days of practice as a team before the races began, sailors still adjusting to the time change, and the challenges of working with an unfamiliar boat, the team started things off with the deck stacked against them.
“But you try to rise above all that and work as a team, and get on with the task at hand, and that’s the most rewarding part of it. It’s not unlike any operation we take on in the military,” Capt Evans said.
“My biggest advantage was probably the group of sailors I put together to do it. It’s very tough to get people to go halfway across the world and take time out of their lives to do this, and they did great.”
Capt Evans has also competed at a number of North American races, often with other CAF members, including a recent third overall finish with his own Bavaria .38 cruiser, Sea Smoke, at the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race this past summer. Those previous successes earn him the chance to compete at larger races, and he’s already earned his invite to represent Sail Canada once again at the China Cup Regatta in 2018.
“I”m going to work on mitigating mistakes, I’ll have another look at how to fine-tune the boat, and we’ll see if we can get an even better result next time,” he said.