At the opening ceremony of ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao, ISAF President Carlo Croce officially welcomed the 131 sailors from 24 nations.
ISAF President Carlo Croce
In an evening of celebration of the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao dignitaries, sailors, team personnel and officials were treated to a small sample of Qingdao's culture and maritime heritage.
Addressing the audience ISAF President Carlo Croce said, 'Qingdao is a wonderful city with a magnificent sailing culture. Every time I come to China I am overwhelmed by the Chinese hospitality with such friendliness. Qingdao has fantastic spirit, keep doing what you're doing and ISAF looks forward to continuing our wonderful relationship for many years.'
A host of talented sailors have made the journey to Qingdao but all eyes will be on home favourite Lijia Xu.
Xu won a dramatic Medal Race at London 2012 to claim China's first Olympic gold medal in a dinghy and was voted 2012 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year. Recalling the evening Carlo Croce gave special mention to the Chinese sailor, 'When I heard Lijia Xu's speech at the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards I had never heard such a young lady speak such wonderful English.
'I remember her sailing and winning gold at London 2012 and her speech at the Awards ceremony was very special. She is a role model for everybody sailing and a real ambassador for China.'
Speeches were heard by ISAF Vice-President Quanhai Li, Standing Member of the CPPCC Qingdao Committee Zhiwei Lin and the Mayor of Qingdao Zhang Xinqi before the inaugural regatta of the 2013-14 ISAF Sailing World Cup was declared open.