by Ben Austin
Well the time is finally on us when all of our work and preparations for the last three years will be tested in our final exam. Yesterday our boat and gear passed through the measurement process, the last final hurdle before the olympic competition.
Ben Austin (left), Emmett Lazich (coach) and Nathan Outteridge - 49er
The boat is now dressed for the occasion with the country flag and letters across the mainsail and hull thanks to the expertise a few Chinese helpers. The boat has also been fitted out with a tripod (commonly known as the 'bbq plate') which will be the perch for our little friend 'R2-D2' (whose job it is to take video footage on the boat and send it back ashore via radio link) throughout the racing.
A GPS tracker has also been fitted to the boat, just in case we get lost in the fog (and so those of you at home can watch the races on the internet). We will take the boat out for one quick sail today just to double check everything is working fine, and then we have a day off to soak up some of the Olympic spirit.
As for Olympic spirit, there is plenty of that floating around now. The Chinese have been racing around covering every available surface in 'Beijing 2008' signage and at the same time, covering up every single manufacturer's label that has not been approved by the IOC (including the brand names on the TV remotes and toilet bowls!).
Qingdao looks quite amazing at night, with many of the large buildings being turned into massive projector screens for Olympic propaganda and laser beams constantly weaving patterns in the sky. From our elevator lobby, we have had a great view of the Qingdao opening ceremony rehersals which have been run every night for the last week - although we may just know how the big secret on how the flame is lit!
The Aussie teams mission to help the volunteers learn English is progressing well, with a couple even learning the basics of 'Aussie, Aussie, Aussie - Oi! Oi! Oi!' last night. Today the village is actually fairly empty as many of the athletes and support staff left early this morning to attend the opening ceremony in Beijing. For those that remain behind, plans are now in place for the Aussies to hold their own little ceremony in the Team Australia room which includes getting dressed up in the soon-to-be-reveled opening ceremony uniform.
For Nathan and I, excitement is also high back home, with our families making the final preparations for coming over to China. We have been extremely lucky to have the love and support of our families to help us get to where we are today and, although the phrase is often over used, we literally would not be here in Qingdao without their efforts, support and sacrifices. Regardless of our results in the next week, we am really looking forward to having our family around us to share in the end of this journey and give us a chance to say thank you for their efforts and support.
Finally, Telstra is running their hero message service again via their website (hero.telstra.com) email and text. We can access these messages from Qingdao, so please feel free to spread the word, as we love the support - just please put your name at the end of the message so we know who it is from.