Please select your home edition
Edition
Southern Spars - North Technology

Letter from Qingdao- An Irish Perspective- 1 and 2

by Denis Kiely on 7 Sep 2008
Denis Kiely (IRL) reports on the build up to the 2008 Paralympics from an Irish perspective:

Sailing Stuff

What we're here for, so 1st things etc. Sonar on the water yesterday - very light wind, maybe 2-3 knots [3.5 to 5.5 Km/h]. Hot, and we baked! Very strong tides - maybe 3 Kts +.

The fear about Qingdao was/is that it would be so light that races would not be started [Min 4 kts are required to start a race]. But most days we have had good wind and today again there was a steady 8Kts on the water - so we keep our fingers crossed for next week when the racing begins. The Sonar was hauled today for measurement, weighing etc. - all the bits of string had to be undone and the mast taken out - and then put back in again - and all the bits of string tied up again.

Maria was out at 8,00am under the boat polishing the hull - and had the whole job done when we arrived down at 10 - 10.30. Someone passed the remark ' a woman's work ...' but being a reformed - well partially reformed - MCP I immediately stopped him and instead explained what had kept us busy and unable to arrive any earlier. That seemed to diffuse the situation??? We also promised to do better in future!

The Skud hit the water for the first time today. Amy and John were out with about 7/8 other boats. Conditions were idyllic and they had a very satisfactory first sail pacing and practising with the others. The usual teething problems - maybe a shorter bit of string here, longer there, etc., but nothing major. A great feeling to be on the water sailing after the initial trauma of discovering the badly damaged boat in the delivery container.

Three days left to competition time and things tightening up a bit - so we went out of the village last evening for a meal - and to restore our blood alcohol levels - moderately - really! Mac regaled us with tales from earlier days which included characters such as 'fightin Kiely' - definitely no relation, 'Luigi', 'mad jack', 'jerry the mouse', the 'Bandon car', and the 'hole in the wall gang', and lots of motorbikes!! - I swear.

Richard was sitting there pop-eyed wondering who the normally fairly serious guy in the back of the boat really was? Was all this possible from in and around a fairly small and obscure parish in south Cork. Rhino, who comes from a more sophisticated [nearer to 'town'] but nearby part of the country, and who may have met 'fightin Kiely' in his own travels, assured him that every word was Gospel!

It is a mark of the tolerance of the Chinese that we were not asked to leave their 5 star establishment as we nearly fell off our chairs and/or nearly choked laughing. I see I've strayed a little from the serious business.

Sonar goes back in the water tomorrow morning, tune the rig and put in a fairly serious amout of time on the water - always weather permitting - as it will be the last practice opportunity. Then the boat will probably be hauled again tomorrow evening or Saturday morning, washed and polished, back in the water for the practice race on Sunday and the action proper begins on Monday.
The plans for the Skud are not so clear, She hasn't had as much time on the water as the other boat so she will be sailing again tomorrow, perhaps Saturday, and how long she will be out of the water before the racing begins will be decided as we go.

Organisation Matters etc.

The event is 'owned' by a body called the International Paralympic Council [IPC]. It's Irish subset is the Paralympic Council of Ireland [PCI] Kind of parallell body and structure to IOC for main olympics. This body enters into some kind of contarct with the host country and - for the most part - their nationals run the event and head up all the operational units. We obviously use the facilities of the Olympics just finished so in the case of sailing we are based in the olympic sailing 'village' in Qingdao.

Medium sized Chinese city of 7-8 million people. I'd never heard of it before hearing that the sailing events would be held there. Not knowing, I assumed something like Crosshaven to Cork i.e. a small sailing village down the road from the capital city. When I saw the first pictures and heard the population figures it came as a real surprise - its high rise all the way here! When it was built I don't know - most of what I've seen is modern - but it is hard to imagine all of it being built since the 'capitalist roaders' under Deng Xiaoping came into the ascendant in 1978. My girls told me there were 6 ish universities by 30,000 students in Qingdao but I've seen a note saying 28 colleges and universities so we might be looking at a 3rd level student population in the greater Qingdao area of - wild guess - 500,000?

Just checked - probably right - Qingdao covers an area of 10,654sq km, is comprised of 7 districts, with a total population of approximately 8.2 million but with an urban population of 2.3 million. That makes it something like the size of Munster?? Mystery solved - its a province and a city - either way its big!

The 'village' is a 5 star Intercontinental hotel or it will be as soon as we have packed our bags and left. Modern palatial in style. Because it was designed/built for the main olympics - around 1000 - it has a slighlty empty feel to it at present - max 150. But you could get used to the luxury!

My Girls, Su and Viv - and Driver

Because of the language?? for reasons of organisational efficiency and for whatever other reason/s I don't know but there seems to be about 5 'volunteer' helpers for each accredited person [athletes and coaches etc]. Each team, Irish, French etc, has two liaison persons. These are all young girls, undergraduate or post grad mostly, with varing levels of English. There job is to see that we - team leaders - do our jobs. Our job is largely a communication role between the organisers [Chinese] and the athletes. Since we do not understand a word of Chinese hence the need for interpreters. We have two because they work in morning and afternoon shifts.

They are bright, neat, diligent, mild mannered, friendly - and relentless - never give up, 'Denees you missed the meeting - this is what you must do.' 'Denees do you have the list of names for me?' and out comes the notebook. Everything is noted down - from their own briefings and conversations - in their little notebooks.

Mostly in Chinese characters or in impeccable written English. When I have to write something for them I am ashamed at my illegible scrawl in comparison. But we get on - well. All the Chinese we meet are invariably polite. The bad natured boorishness and vulgarity that is a staple of the daily discourse at home appears to be totally absent.

I know this can't be the complete picture but I would say that it is a less aggressive, more polite society than Irish people can imagine. There are also lots of young men employed in the village but I'm not sure what they do - if they do anything at all? Generally women seem to have a position of complete equality - certainly in terms of the organisation of the event women seem to have at least as prominent a role as men - at least! No hint here of the middle-east or perhaps Japan - this may be one of the few/only positives from the communist inheritance/era. [maybe more later]

As I'm a team leader - middling boss - I rate a car and driver [Passat and good driver]. I know, this stuff could go to your head. So, I used the facility once - to go looking for wheelchair tyres around the city - couldn't find any - felt a bit embarrassed - big fat foreigner traipsing after small Chinese girl. But perhaps I'll take it out again on Saturday - and who knows I might get used to it!

Getting tired - two fingered stuff is so bloody slow! More later - hopefully.

Responses all positive - thank you - except one peremptory demand for my chinese mobile phone number. It will be something alon
Barz Optics - FloatersSchaefer 2016 Ratchet Block 660x82Bakewell-White Yacht Design

Related Articles

Qingdao might spell the Future of Sailing
’The explosion of sailing in Asia is both a joyous and a sad time for this European dominated sport.’ As Kjell Borking, the Vice President of EUROSAF, the peak European sailing body commented today at the 2010 International Sailing Forum in Qingdao ‘’The explosion of sailing in Asia is both a joyous and a sad time for this European dominated sport.’
Posted on 22 Aug 2010
Elliott 6 metre selected for 2012 Olympics
The ISAF Council followed its usual conservative approach today when it opted for the same classes The ISAF Council followed a conservative approach today when it opted for the same classes to contest the same events in the 2012 Olympic as they had done in the 2008 Olympics. The only addition is the introduction of the Elliott 6 metre in the Womens Match Racing event, which will make its debut at the 2012 Olympics.
Posted on 15 Nov 2008
Ainslie and Sensini win ISAF Rolex Sailor Awards
Ben Ainslie (GBR) and Alessandra Sensini (ITA) winners of the ISAF Rolex Sailor of the Year Awards Ben Ainslie (GBR) and Alessandra Sensini (ITA) have just been announced as the winners of the ISAF Rolex Sailor of the Year Awards at a dinner in Madrid, Spain
Posted on 12 Nov 2008
Not time to change Olympic windsurfer says Pryde
A proposal to switch windsurfing boards for 2012 Games from existing Neil Pryde RS:X to a new Formula board. At this weeks ISAF meeting amongst the agenda items is a proposal to switch windsurfing boards for the 2012 London Olympic Games from the existing Neil Pryde RS:X to a new Starboard built Formula board.
Posted on 3 Nov 2008
Tornado moots one design for 11th Olympic medal
discussions were underway within the IOC with regards to a submission submitted by Paul Henderson The structure of the Tornado class has gone through many changes over the past 11 months. The Tornado Class/Multihull community became to complacent believing that multihull was safe and would always be part of the Olympic program, this lead to a major shock to us all at the 2007 Annual ISAF meeting in November.
Posted on 21 Oct 2008
ISAF Working Party support NZ design for Olympics
ISAF working party supports Elliott 6m be chosen as the equipment for the 2012 Olympics in the new Womens Match Racing A Working Party from the International Sailing Federation has made a submission to the International Sailing Federation supporting the previous submission from Yachting New Zealand that the Elliott 6m be chosen as the equipment for the 2012 Olympics in the new Womens Match Racing Event.
Posted on 6 Oct 2008
Slingsby stumbled in Qingdao. What Happened?
Tom Slingsby was a gold medal favourite going into the Olympic regatta. Tom talks about what happened and the future. Australia's Laser sailor Tom Slingsby was the gold medal favourite going into the Olympic regatta. But he had a shocker, finishing 22nd overall. Now Tom talks about what happened and the road ahead.
Posted on 25 Sep 2008
Balboa Yacht Club welcomes Paralympic sailing hero
United Airlines delivered precious cargo to Orange County's John Wayne Airport this afternoon. United Airlines delivered precious cargo to Orange County's John Wayne Airport this afternoon. Over 100 Balboa Yacht Club members, friends and family welcomed home Paralympic Gold Medallist, Nick Scandone; his wife, Mary Kate; his loyal friend and coach, Mike Pinckney and his devoted brother, Vince (Rock).
Posted on 19 Sep 2008
If Everyone could have seen them dance .....
If everyone could have seen them dance like no one was watching Spending the last two weeks with the sailors, coaches, assistants, friends, families, care givers and International Association of Disabled Sailors (IFDS) officials during the 2008 Paralympics Sailing Regatta in Qingdao, China was the most rewarding experience of my career as a sailing journalist. These people are amazing!
Posted on 17 Sep 2008
An exciting finale to the 2008 Paralympic Sailing
An exciting finale to the 2008 Paralympic Sailing Competition in Qingdao An exciting finale to the 2008 Paralympic Sailing Competition in Qingdao ended with gold medals going to Canada's Paul Tingley in the 2.4 Metre, US pair Nick Scandone and Maureen Mckinnon-Tucker in the SKUD18 and German trio Jens Kroker, Robert Prem and Siegmund Mainka in the Sonar.
Posted on 15 Sep 2008