Charlie Ogletree and John Lovell US representatives in the Tornado at the 2008 Sailing Olympics report from Qingdao:
Greetings from the 2008 Olympic sailing venue. Well, from Qingdao at least. The site doesn’t officially open until July 30, so until then we are joining all the other teams that are working from nearby facilities and staying in neighboring hotels.
We’re about half way through our two-week training session here and it has been very productive. We’ve managed approximately ten hours of sail training and testing in six days which is pretty darned good, given that we missed a couple of days because there was no wind at all.
Conditions here continue to be challenging. Our hosts seem to be getting on top of their weed problem but they haven’t figured a way yet to get rid of the fog. It makes for some pretty wild training.
We raced in a peasouper the other day when the weather leg took only one minute. The starting line was longer than the weather leg and the fog was holding down visibility to around 10 meters. You couldn’t see the other end of the line or the weather mark. This is where a hand-held GPS comes into its own, for racing and for finding your way home.
There is a giant golden statue of Mazu, traditional godmother of Chinese fishermen, that marks the outer limit of the Olympic harbour. These days Mazu serves another purpose. She’s a guide to fog density. Sailors stay ashore if they can’t see Mazu from the nearby shoreline.
Statue of Mazu is our guide to fog levels
Once you’re on the water and in the fog, the hundreds of sampans scooping up algae are another hairy problem. There have been as many as 2,000 boats working on the weed, from sampans to small coastal freighters.
You can hear their old gasoline engines chugging and listen to the voices and the yelling but it’s all in Chinese and we can’t understand a word.
If that’s not enough, we sail close to the shipping lanes and the occasional blast from a big ship’s foghorn adds to the surreal experience.
The most wind we have seen during training was ten knots and more typically it has been four to six knots so we’ve been getting in some good light air training when we are on the water. Ashore we’ve been productive during our down time, getting all our boat work finished and our spare parts prepared for the games.
We hit the gym twice a day and we’re continuing to lose weight. Johnny is down to 75 kilos while I am at 66 kilos. We’ve both lighter than we were in Athens when we won our Silver Medals, so our efforts are clearly paying off.
We have been training with the German team of Johannes Polgar and Florian Spalteholz, as well as teams from Canada and Belgium.
Sampans loaded with seaweed wait to unload
On the 15th we’ll be joined by our Dutch training partners Mitch Booth and Pim Nieuwenhuis for more training before we head home on the 20th.
After a short break we’ll head to Los Angeles for team processing where we’ll get our uniforms and credentials. We come back here for the final push on July 30th.
We want to acknowledge all the support of our sponsor, Advanced Equities. Be sure to visit our T-Squared Racing website
Charlie Ogletree - Team Advanced Equities I
Temporary training base at the Yinhai Yacht Club