Crew members aboard Chinese boat Ark, which made its Sydney to Hobart debut last year.
Crew members aboard Chinese boat Ark, which made its Sydney to Hobart debut last year. CYCA

Korean crew keen to impress compatriots in debut

THEY'RE culturally "afraid of the sea”, but that won't stop a team of Koreans competing in the one of the world's toughest ocean adventures: the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

And the first Korean team to contest the race believes others will soon follow in their wake if they manage to complete the arduous task.

The crew of 12 are predominantly from Seoul and Busan, with their entry the fruition of eight years of work and planning to get their 52-footer Sonic race ready.

"There is a lot of pressure because every Korean is looking at us,” said skipper Andrew Rho, who contested his first Sydney to Hobart on another yacht last year.

Rho and crewmate Han Kin said the Australian race was well known in Korea.

"People know the race and it is in the media,” said Kin, who works to increase the number of offshore sailors in his country. "The government is really trying to expand our marine industry and one of our goals is to train more people.”

But the visiting sailors said there was an unusual issue they faced - exacerbated by the Korean ferry disaster in 2014, which claimed the lives of more than 300 people.

"Culturally Koreans can be a little afraid of the sea,” Kin said. "We have education systems in place to try and improve that so more people become involved.”

Last year the Sydney to Hobart had its first ever entrant from mainland China - Ark. That boat is returning this year after damage at the start prematurely ended its maiden campaign.

Sonic and Ark are part of a 10-strong international armada that includes the Hong Kong supermaxi Scallywag, Swedish boat Matador, German yacht Varuna, US entry Triple Lindy, Japan's KLC Bengal7, Welsh entry Samskara and New Zealand pair Giacomo and Beau Geste.