Will the 2008 sailing Olympiad be a success?


 
From the Olympic test event, the Daily Telegraph's sailing correspondent appraises Qingdao
“Got on board a westbound 747 - de de da dah dah - cos it never rains in Southern California…” The 1970s American saccharine pop was playing on the Air China flight from Qingdao to Beijing. Then the thought struck home. In 12 days in China, not once was Chinese music heard in a public place. Sometimes it’s the trivial that strikes home when seeing a foreign place for the first time. This is certainly true of the host city to the Olympic sailing regatta. The 6 million strong city and China’s second largest port is an economic hot spot. The streets are paved with Audis and VWs. On one junction you’ll find a Carrefour supermarket with Häagen-Daz, Gucci and Starbucks directly opposite. Even if Qingdao is meant to be one of China’s most westernised cities, thanks to Kaiser Wilhelm’s annexation of it back in 1897, the sense of the influence by outside cultures appears a recent, not distant, phenomenon. So much for pre-conceptions. The same could be said about the sailing too. The sum of knowledge about sailing in Qingdao dates to the 2001 Optimist World Championship, a short time after the city was named as the 2008 host. For those who don’t recall it - only one race was managed in the first three days. On other days two thirds of the fleet were failing to meet the time limit. Still buried in the Optimist class website are comments such as: “We don’t have a crisis yet!” or “The Optimists are lucky enough to have Olympic race officer Michel Barbier here, but even he cannot invent wind.” Tellingly the class voted at its next AGM to try and select future venue for the Worlds with ‘guaranteed wind’. And yet the 2008 test regatta was completed on schedule. Surprisingly all 11 of the new format

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