China’s Sailing Capital Qingdao builds on Olympic success

Qingdao, China, the host of the 2008 Olympic Sailing regatta is actively seeking to take advantage of its location, infrastructure and community and continues to expand its sailing events.

The former German colonial port staged the first recorded sailing event in China in 1903. Now a city of more than eight million, Qingdao was a stopover for the Clipper Round the World Race in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

Qingdao also hosted the 2008 Olympic sailing regatta and the Volvo Ocean Race in January 2009.

Two years after the Olympics, Qingdao has cemented this strong and successful sailing connection by welcoming the ISAF World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) signing a five year, US$25 million deal.

Earlier this year the Vice Mayor of Qingdao Municipal Government, Wang Xiulin, who is also the President of the Qingdao Yachting Association and Peter Gilmour, President of the WMRT signed a five year agreement through to 2014, to host an annual stage of the ISAF World Match Racing Tour. The first Qingdao Match Cup will take place between 19th-25th October 2010.

Wang Xiulin said at the time to host the World Match Racing Tour event was an important step for Qingdao. ‘The World Match Racing Tour is a top class global series amongst international sailing events. It is important to China to have a world class event here. Once the Qingdao Match Cup is established, more people will get an opportunity to learn more about match racing.’

Qingdao International Sailing Week is being held again from August 21st to 29th in Qingdao Olympic Sailing Centre and is an important platform to build Qingdao into the Sailing Capital not just of China, but of Asia.

On the water this week the second annual Mayor’s Cup International Sailing Regatta (Dalian-Qingdao), the Lushang Cup Qingdao International Regatta 2010 and International Junior Optimist Class Sailing Camp and Regatta have been completed.

The centre piece of this week’s activity is the International Sailing City Mayors and International Summit with participants from Governments, Cities, Sailing groups and industry from around the world.

ISAF Vice President Mr. David Kellett, who oversaw the Qingdao Olympic Regatta for the International Olympic Committee, is back in Qingdao for the International Sailing Summit.

Last night Mr. Kellett said ‘We first looked at Qingdao as a potential Olympic sailing venue back in 2001. At that time China had the long term goal of leading Asia in the sport of sailing..

‘When China bid for the Olympics, Qingdao was chosen because of its ability to invest in the very significant infrastructure and in the overall development of sailing in China.

‘What has been achieved in Qingdao is a credit to the Chinese Yachting Association and the Qingdao government. They have seen what has been needed and they put a great deal of effort into it.

‘The development of sailing in Qingdao is being done in just the right way, with absolute grass root growth. By 2008 there were 200 Optimists and 100 Lasers in Qingdao being used in the youth sailing development programs and there are now 1000 Optimists.

‘Progress continues with recognition that while one off sailing events have been good, regular annual events will be a major factor in ongoing branding.

‘That is why the five year commitment to bring the ISAF World Match Racing Tour to Qingdao is very significant for sailing in Qingdao, China and Asia.

‘Developing countries like China can see that the creation of sailing academies like those in Perth, Australia and in Malaysia as part of the World Match Racing Tour package brings rapid results and that will obviously happen here in China.

‘The three World Match Racing Events, the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia, the Korea Match Cup and now the Qingdao Match Cup, are lifting the profile of sailing across all of Asia.

‘The sailing audience numbers are growing with every event and that will translate into greater participation in the sport across the whole of Asia’ he concluded.
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