(Spain, 14 December 2017) Four young women who met each other while attending college at Shantou University (STU) are about to enter the global stage, as athletes and competitors in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge (TWAC): the world’s toughest ocean rowing challenge. They are the youngest team ever, all women in their early 20’s who came from small villages in China. This is also the first team ever from China.
The team pays tribute to the local Chaoshan tea ceremony tradition and calls itself Kung Fu Cha-Cha: Cloris Chen Yuli, Amber Li Xiaobing, Tina Liang Mintian and Sarah Meng Yajie. For the past few years they’ve practised and trained together as part of a group of 20 students who participated in a historic eight-day row from Shantou to Hong Kong back in February. The team set off to cross the Atlantic from La Gomera and row to Antigua with only their boat, and whatever they’ve packed on it.
For the next 50 days, they will eat only the food they’ve carried on board, drink water treated with solar paneled desalinaters and have only each other for company taking turns every two hours with rowing and sleeping.
Sarah says, “We are very honoured to be able to make history for our country. We are the first team ever from China, and the youngest!”
As China’s first team in TWAC, the girls are grateful to Li Ka Shing Foundation (LKSF) for their full support in this 3,000 mile ocean crossing. Tina says, “Our education at Shantou University was just the foundation to this experience of a life time. It set the stage for us to pursue our dreams. This expedition is a symbol for our generation. That with hard work and dedication, we can unleash our potential.”
The Foundation is a key source of funding for STU since its inception 36 years ago and a pioneer for educational reforms in China. “Kung Fu Cha-Cha is an example of what young people can achieve if they dare to dream and it is also my aspiration for Shantou University. I have long believed in supporting China’s future by empowering the next generation to unleash their potential. We wish Kung Fu Cha-Cha every success in the Atlantic Challenge!” says LKSF Chairman Mr Li Ka-shing.
The team has been training with Charlie Pitcher, who set the record for the solo rowing across the Atlantic in 2013 and was instrumental in leading the first Shantou to Hong Kong row. He believes the girls have not only the physical ability to finish the race, but also their spirit as a team is what will set them apart. “I’ve worked with so many athletes in my time. These girls are the real deal,” says Charlie, “But more than that, they have an attitude and a lightness of spirit that will carry them through one of the toughest crossings in the world. I have no doubt they’ll make it and make China proud.”
About the Li Ka Shing Foundation
Established in 1980, the Li Ka Shing Foundation (LKSF) has invested over HK$20 billion to work on education, medical services and research initiatives globally. In 2006, Mr. Li described his philanthropic effort as akin to having another son in the family. He called for a paradigm shift in our Asian culture of giving, through apportioning more of our wealth and means towards social capital so that we could bring forth great hope and promises for the future.
The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is the premier event in ocean rowing – a challenge that takes its competitors more than 3,000 miles west from San Sebastian in La Gomera, Canary Islands to Nelson’s Dockyard English Harbour, Antigua and Barbuda. The annual race begins on 14 December 2017 with up to 25 teams participating from around the world. It is the “world’s toughest row.” For more details, please visit www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com