Qingdao shows the way in sailing savvy

Updated: 2014-03-23 08:10

By Xie Chuanjiao (China Daily)

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In its post-Olympic phase, Qingdao has developed its Games' sailing legacy in into a flourishing "grand sports" industry that integrates sports with culture, tourism, manufacturing, commerce and entertainment.

Over the past five years, the city has been a host port for many international sailing events, including the Clipper Round the World Race, Volvo Ocean Race, Extreme Sailing Series and ISAF Sailing World Cup. It has also organized its own events, such as the Mayor's Cup Yacht Race, Qingdao International Week and Qingdao International Sailing Camp and Competition. It is well on the way to becoming Asia's premier sailing center.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, founder and chairman of the Clipper Race, said the development of sailing events in Qingdao is as amazing as the city's accelerated growth.

"When the race first visited Qingdao in 2006, the Olympic sailing center was still under construction, and when we came back for a second time in 2008, a world-class sailing facility was presented to everyone, but there were not many boats in the port," said Knox-Johnson.

"Today, you can see how popular Qingdao's sailing is by the countless boats on the water."

Apart from hosting professional races, Qingdao is also promoting sailing among ordinary citizens. With its rising popularity, sailing-related tourism and boat manufacturing are also growing fast in the city.

Since 2006, Qingdao has opened sailing courses at more than 140 local schools and clubs. With 1,050 sailboats in town, the city has distributed 20,000 books about sailing to its youth. More than 10,000 locals have received professional training.

Guo Chuan, a Qingdao native, stunned the world by finishing his nonstop circumnavigation of the globe in 137 days and 20 hours and became the first man to accomplish the feat in a Class 40 boat.

This year, Song Kun is expected to become the first Chinese woman to circumnavigate the world.

With Qingdao's sailing events attracting increasing attention from tourists, the city has also linked sailing sports with its traditional festivities such as its beer and food festivals and shopping galas.

The city's shipbuilding industry is also thriving. The clippers used in this year's race were manufactured by Mazarin, a Sino-German joint venture located in Qingdao.

(China Daily 03/23/2014 page12)