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Full steam ahead as Asia's top yachting venue

By Xie Chuanjiao in Qingdao | China Daily | Updated: 2012-08-15 10:56

Full steam ahead as Asia's top yachting venue

Qingdao has gained a global reputation for its international sailing events.

Now known by the world from its glory days as sailing host of the 2008 Olympics, Qingdao boasts a spectacular oceanfront playground for all kinds of water sports along its 863 kilometers of shoreline.

Starting in 2009, Qingdao International Sailing Week has been held from the third Saturday in August and lasts 16 days.

This year's event will begin on Aug 18 and conclude on Sept 2 at the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center.

Lin Zhiwei, head of the Qingdao Sports Federation and executive secretary of the committee for major sailing competitions and festivities in Qingdao, said this year's sailing week themed "Sailing capital to boost the blue transformation" has more than 40 activities.

Divided into eight components, they include international sailing competitions, Olympic cultural exchanges, promotion of sailing knowledge and culture, sailing industry events and experience exchanges among youth sailors.

"At the forefront of China's opening up policy and the bridgehead of the Shandong peninsula blue economic zone, Qingdao will leverage its sailing week to promote communication with the international sailing community to develop the city's high-end sailing equipment manufacturing and related industries," said Lin.

The event's Helmsman Series of exchanges include a Sailing Celebrity Dialogue, Sailing Star Challenge and an awards ceremony for the world's top players in the sport to share their sailing experiences and present the latest industry developments.

Qu Chun, member of the race management committee of the International Sailing Federation and vice-secretary general of the Chinese Yachting Association, said the sailing week will also include activities to popularize sailing sports in schools and local communities.

"We will hold sailboat and sailing experiences at the main site and three sub-venues to promote sailing to the youth, local citizens and tourists. This sport will develop into a promising industry, driving the city's sports and leisure economy."

As the cradle of sport sailing in China, Qingdao has hosted international events ranging from the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Competitions to the Clipper Round the World race, the Volvo Ocean Race and the Extreme Sailing Series.

More recently it was announced that Qingdao will host the Asia leg of the International Sailing Federation's ISAF Sailing World Cup in 2013 and 2014, according to ISAF.

The concentration of sailing competitions has put Qingdao on course to lead as the top sailing destination in Asia. At the same time, the local government is providing coaching to young sailors so they can carry on its Olympic legacy, expecting all-round prosperity by greater participation.

Equipped with 1,050 sailboats and 200,000 sailing manuals, 138 sailing institutions ranging from public schools to yacht clubs had been founded by 2011.

There are more than 10,000 young sailors in the city and 300 teachers who have passed national exams to be certified as sailing instructors.

The Qingdao Olympic Sailing City Promotion Committee was founded in 2010 and the city joined the World Union of Olympic Cities at the same year.

Since 2009, the Qingdao Sailing Association has sent delegates to various sailing events across the globe, forging links with sailing associations in more than 20 countries and regions and the noted maritime cities of Inchon, South Korea, Kiel, Germany and Brest, France.

Following the 2008 Olympics, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge remarked that great changes had taken place since his previous visit to Qingdao in 2005. The city has become one of the world's top sailing venues with an excellent working team, he added.

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