US Sailing hosts First Safety at Sea Seminar in China

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US Sailing hosted its first Safety at Sea Seminar in China on April 14. The event took place in Qingdao in front of 53 participants, including speakers Chuck Hawley and Bruce Brown, and organizer Doug Sparks.

This is especially significant to the growing recreational marine market in China. Qu Chun, Vice President of the Qingdao Yachting Association and Li Ruilin, Vice Chairman of the China Yachting Association were also involved in the event.

The seminar met ISAF requirements, including life rafts and life jacket sessions in the pool, flare demonstrations, and a written test.

The seminar classroom was located in a building that was used to house judges and umpires for the 2008 Beijing/Qingdao Summer Olympics, and now serves as headquarters for the Qingdao Marine Sports School.

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Each presentation was translated by Qu Chun immediately after the presenter made a point. About half of the slides were also translated, so students could see the bullet points and callouts in Chinese.

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The flare demonstration was held on the seawall of the harbor. We ignited two red hand flares and two red rocket flares. It turns out that the Chinese SOLAS rocket flares have a 5-second delay in ignition, which is exactly long enough to cause the person with the flare to look down the 'barrel' to see what’s wrong. It was potentially dangerous, but the signals were launched successfully. It’s a great reminder of how important it is to make sure that flare users assume that the flare is 'live' until absolutely proven that it is not.

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The pool session was held in the German section of town in a large indoor pool. We had two ISO 9650 rafts and about 30 life jackets. We believe that several of our students were non-swimmers, since swimming is not nearly as common a skill as in the US, so the life jackets were a good idea. Fortunately, the pool was also pretty shallow. Each student got an opportunity to board the life raft, capsize it, right it, and to practice the help and huddle positions.

The 38 question exam was available in English and Chinese, and everyone passed. Interestingly, the best scores came from three men and three of the six women.

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