China have entered a yacht into the Sydney to Hobart bluewater classic for the first time, organisers said Wednesday.

Serena Cai, who is managing Ark323, said taking part in Australia’s top yacht race would be a milestone moment for Chinese sailing.

“Ark323 is a purely Chinese entry; a Chinese owner, crew and administrators,” said Cai, noting that while entries from Hong Kong had raced before, it was a first for the mainland.

The 12-man, all-Chinese crew have been training together since March for the annual race that leaves Sydney on Boxing Day.

“They come from all points of China and have a wide range of sailing skills. They are very excited to be the first crew from mainland China to enter the race,” added Cai in a statement issued through the race organisers.

The yacht, owned by the Noah Group, will represent Noah Sailing Club in Shanghai.

“We made a decision to enter the Rolex Sydney Hobart because of the nature of the prestigious event, the challenge it presents,” said Noah Group chief Wilson Lee.

“It is also one of the ultimate platforms to showcase the Chinese team and the club’s passion to increase a Chinese presence at international yachting events.”

Ark323 is a TP52 class of yacht, and will be sailed to Australia from Sanya in China.

Last year’s Sydney to Hobart, won by supermaxi Wild Oats XI, drew its biggest fleet in two decades with 117 yachts taking part.

The 628 nautical mile race starts in Sydney Harbour before running down the east coast then across the Bass Strait to Hobart.

Registration for this year’s race opened last week with yachts from Britain and Germany among other international entries. – Agence France-Presse

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