The China Cup International Regatta began on Friday in Daya Bay, Shenzhen.
One hundred teams from 35 countries and regions will compete over the following four days.
Forums and lectures on marine culture will be held in tandem with the event.
First held in 2007, the regatta has become a key date in the global calendar.
"Teams from Spain, Sweden, Nigeria and Dubai will have their first taste of the China Cup this year and two ships from Russia will join us in Shenzhen," said Zhong Yong, deputy secretary-general of organizing committee.
"We have seen the China Cup rise in global significance over the last six years.."
This year's event will see three-time World Champion Nathan Wilmot, and Achim Griese, a silver medalist at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. Jo Qesem Ayela Aleh and Olivia Powrie from New Zealand, Olympic gold medallists in the two-woman dinghy, will pose a stiff challenge for other competitors.
Xu Lijia, the Olympic champion in Laser Radial category at the London Olympics, and a Shenzhen resident, will be a hometown favorite.
The China Cup attracts major sponsors, such as BMW and Vatti, a Chinese electric oven manufacturer.