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Letter from Qingdao- Poor water, poor life?

by . on 16 Aug 2008
Carl Evans and Peter Burling (NZL) competing in the first races of 2008 Olympic Regatta, on Monday. © Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz

Greetings from Qingdao, on this the eighth day of the 2008 Sailing Olympics.

One of Sir Peter Blake's mantras on the environment was: 'Earth is a water planet on which the quality of water defines the quality of life. Good water, good life. Poor Water, poor life. No water, no life.'

Today, I saw the first sea bird that I have seen since arriving in Qingdao, eight days ago.

We were out on Course Bravo with the windsurfers, not too far from the algae boom. Barbara Kendall was sailing on her own towards what looked like a piece of debris, which suddenly sprouted wings and flew off.

Coming from a place where we pretty well take sealife for granted, the contrast here is quite staggering. There is not a seagull in sight. No dolphins moving along the coast in schools looking for fish. No schools of fish preying on baitfish as the food chain functions.

It is dead, dead, dead off Qingdao.

The message probably hit home a little harder today because it was a calm, light wind day, and quite hot - conditions which in the Hauraki Gulf and most other places would have bought a variety of sealife to the surface, but today there was (almost) none.

Another message that hit home came from NZ Finn sailor, Dan Slater, after he was eliminated from the competition in the Finn class, yesterday. He missed the Medal Race by two points:

'I feel so incredibly gutted and really empty to have spent so much time and energy to have it go to waste on such a crap shoot of a regatta. One only needs to look at all the classes and their results to see it’s not an easy venue but for me that isn’t a good enough excuse. This is my second Olympics I’ve competed in for sailing and in my total of 24 Olympic races I have sailed, there was just one beat of one race to windward in over 7 knots.'

Qingdao performed up to its reputation today. Light winds allowed just one race in some classes, two in the 470's, three in the 49er (but with a 160 degree windchange in one) and no racing in the Yngling, Finn and RS:X.

The first two were two were have staged their Medal Race off the seawall in Qingdao, the first to be ever held in the history of the Olympics. With a crowd gathered on the seawall, the event turned into a real fizzer as the breeze arrived, went and then came and went. After racing was finally abandoned for the day it was a mass boat race back to the marina, for more of the same again tomorrow.

Highlight of the day for New Zealand was undoubtedly the performance of the Mens 470 crew of Peter Burling and Carl Evans - winning the first race of the day and finishing seventh in the second - all on Carl Evans 18th birthday! They finished 11th overall in the 470 class - just missing the cut for the medal race by 2pts - and finishing in the same place as they did in the World Championships earlier this year.

A great result!

Good Sailing!

Richard Gladwell
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