Time for a world-class marina
Updated: 2015-07-29 06:58
A sailing boom in this region after the 2008 Olympic Games and investments in maritime recreational infrastructure from Qingdao to Singapore have highlighted Hong Kong's shortcomings in promoting water sports and recreational activities. The more than 260 islands which comprise Hong Kong's geographical make-up would make you think that Hong Kong people excel in sailing. But the city's only claim to such glory took place almost 20 years ago when Lee Lai-shan clinched the Olympic gold in windsurfing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
So the SAR should be supportive of a developer's revised plan to turn the north side of Tung O Wan on Lamma Island into a mixed hotel, residential and super yacht berthing marina. It will have the capacity to host international events and help establish Hong Kong as the "Yachting Capital of Asia".
Local sailing and water sport enthusiasts favor the development of a new marina as it would provide more berths and international-level training facilities. But the support should be tempered by the fact that the developer's original plan was rejected twice.
It has since claimed to have made drastic revisions to some of plan's main features, including a breakwater which has been modified to act as a coral reef. The revised plan also envisaged more corridors for endangered green sea turtles migrating to nearby nesting sites a few hundred meters from the proposed site.
The marina at the heart of the plan would host 500 yachts of various sizes up to 100 meters or more, with a sailing academy, waterfront plaza and promenade open to the public. It is surprising that despite Hong Kong's sailing tradition, facilities in the city, before now, in this respect have long been far from adequate. The current berthing fees are nearly double those of our competitors in the region. Perhaps the scale of the project will substantially reduce such fees and attract more usage.
If implemented with a built-in mandate to protect the ecology of the nearby nature reserve, the plan promises to dovetail with the Chief Executive's latest Policy Address which urges that Hong Kong's vast body of water be used for promoting water recreational and sports activities and a water-friendly culture. The address pledges that relevant bureaus and departments will continue to identify desirable locations to build new water sports centers. In view of this, the plan ought to receive the government's green light.
(HK Edition 07/29/2015 page9)