Picture postcard sailing conditions in Qingdao today with glorious sunshine, 10km visibility and a light south easter.
'It's not usually like this here...' How many times have you heard that at a regatta? And the next line is invariably '…you should have been here last week!' Well, after all the moaning and groaning about the choice of Qingdao as the Olympic sailing venue, right now it’s looking pretty darn good. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, visibility is good (and in any case a million times better than Hong Kong ‘normal’). Temperature is a balmy 26 degrees C and with humidity at a mere 44% certainly there’s not much to complain about.
There were a few glitches getting here and, where an event of this size and complexity is concerned, it’s a good idea to be here a day or two before kick-off, just to find your feet, find your way around, check out the rules, and the regulations and routines. For example – nobody told me I had to had a list of all my camera gear, complete with $$$ value and serial numbers, 'signed and approved by a Chinese Embassy in my home country' (and when I say I am from 'Hong Kong' I get a lot of quizzical looks!). That did get resolved at the airport, but it took ages. First time in 20 years I have ever been asked to supply a list of camera equipment on arrival in China – and the first time I have arrived wearing an Olympic media accreditation marked 'Photographer'. Hmmm…
But a mere Accreditation badge won’t get you into the Sailing Centre – first the Accreditation has to be Validated, which involves going to a Validation Centre and showing your passport (which I had very sensibly left in the hotel) because the Accreditation ticket has your passport number on it – it would have been useful if someone had told me… grrrr…
But what a difference a day makes. Today popped up sunny and bright, and the $3500 charge for internet access in the Media Centre was sidestepped by paying once and plugging the LAN cable into a hub that four of us can work off. Lunch was sort of sidestepped since we were 5 minutes late (there are fixed and entirely inflexible mealtimes in the Media Canteen) and getting only cold leftovers.
Sailors have been out on the water this afternoon, and we intercepted a few when they came off the water. Chan King Yin, Hong Kong’s windsurfing star, and coach Rene Appel reported themselves well happy with conditions and progress. I am just waiting to get started, and looking forward to it', said Chan. Appel added, 'If conditions stay like they are today, this is going to be a good regatta.'
Out on the course today the 49ers were enjoying their last hit out before tomorrow's regatta start. All in all, a perfect day.
Tonight is the Opening Ceremony in Beijing, and there will be a complementary Launching Ceremony here in Qingdao. Racing starts tomorrow with the Yngling and Finn classes – we’ll be out on the water.