One week after celebrating one of his biggest international successes, Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag skipper David Witt said he was keen to take on another round-the-world Ocean Race and win it.
Witt, at the helm of a 100-foot super maxi version of Scallywag, took line honours in the prestigious Transatlantic 2019 earlier in July, beating out 12 other boats who made the 2,960 nautical mile journey from Newport, in the United States, to Cowes, England.
The Hong Kong-based Australian " who is also planning an assault on this year's Sydney to Hobart race " said talks were under way about a potential Scallywag boat to make the start line in Alicante, Spain, for the 2021-22 multi-stage Ocean Race. He stressed he would only take on the challenge with proper preparation.
"It's something we are seriously looking into at the moment," Witt said. "It's on the radar for sure. We just want to make sure that if we do the Ocean Race again, we are going to do it with enough preparation and proper budget so that we have a chance to win the race rather than just compete."
Scallywag was a relatively late entry to the 2017-18 edition of the Ocean Race, its participation having only been announced five months before the boats set sail from Alicante in late October, 2017.
Despite lack of preparation, Witt and his crew steered Scallywag to a dramatic victory in leg four from Melbourne to its home port of Hong Kong and a second place from Hong Kong to Auckland.
The crew suffered a tragedy on the leg from Auckland to Itajai in Brazil when veteran sailor John Fisher fell overboard and was lost at sea.
The incident practically ended Scallywag's chances as they abandoned the leg. Although they returned to the race, the grieving crew were unable to maintain their competitiveness.
Still, Witt maintains that their performances in the Hong Kong and Auckland legs proved they were capable of competing against and beating the best crews in the world.
"We were only beaten by a minute and 40 seconds, or something like that, to Auckland, and that was one of my proudest moments, as proud as when we won in Hong Kong," said Witt.
"We had very limited preparation and were running third overall when we reached Auckland, which was halfway around the world in the competition.
"It gave us some insight that if we had enough training and practice and have the right people in place we would be capable of finishing at the right end of the fleet."
Witt, however, said he would only in interested in sailing the new Imoca 60 boats. The next Ocean Race will feature two classes of boats " the single-design VO65 used during the previous race and the Imoca 60s, which are at the cutting edge of technology and allow for flexibility in design.
He also said any Hong Kong entry would need to start the process by the end of the year if they were to be competitive.
"I don't want to do it again on those 65 boats," said Witt. "I've been pretty vocal about it. If we are going to do it, it would be on the Imoca 60.
"In my opinion, we need a designer engaged by the end of the year. That is the timeline we are looking at," said Witt.,
Witt said the previous Ocean Race helped to raise the profile of Scallywag in Hong Kong and in turn is fuelling the growth of sailing among Hong Kong youngsters, which is a priority for the boat's dedicated owner, Lee Seng Huang.
"We've launched a foundation here and we have underprivileged kids out there sailing and (Lee) is really trying to build Scallywag as a sailing brand globally.
"Whatever can come along to help promote the brand and put a bit of money back into sailing, especially at grass roots is what we are quite keen about. And that might lead us to another Ocean Race.
"You never say never. Never give up and we are looking at it for sure."
China-owned Dongfeng Race Team won the 2017-18 Ocean Race in a tight finish ahead of Mapfre, Team Brunel, Team AkzoNobel, Vestas 11th Hour Racing, Turn the Tide on Plastic and Scallywag.
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