Team Western Cape – Qingdao Day 5
Ok so its 10pm and I have flu and feel like death, so excuse the typing errors.
Today we had a sail past where all the sailors sailed their Optimists past a big ship full of signatories. They are working really hard in Qingdao to make it the sailing mecca of the world and I think its working. What an amazing country and city. Communism? Sign me up now! This city could be any city in France or Italy, actually better.
The rain poured down this morning as we made our way to the regatta center and after an hour it subsided and we rigged up. There was a complete lack of communication, so we just followed everyone out into the bay and did what they did. It was quite a good sail and the sailors got some more experience of the conditions. We then returned, derigged and went for lunch. Surprise surprise we had spoons for once instead of chopsticks. Someone must have complained and we think it was the Ozzies.
After lunch we had a fantastic session with an ISAF judge from Malaysia who was on the water for the practice race and he took photos and video and pointed out many things that would be penalized in an actual race. He went through each rule that affected those transgression so even a baby could understand. I even learnt a few new things.
After the rules session we visited the Tall Ship “ Pallada” which was quite surreal. We were guided around by 12 year old who was very definitely in charge of us and rattled off the history and dimensions of the ship. Apparently that have kids as young as 7 starting on board.
Then off to dinner with the Kiwis and Ozzies. The Restaurant is called “Lennon” and is owned by a Chinese Clipper sailor who has now retired. What a fantastic place in the heart of Qingdao. The sailors all bonding together was really heart warming. This morning on the drive down to the regatta center Damita befriended the little Russian girl called Dasha and you could see Dasha was in her element having another girl to talk to.
Back to the hotel and everyone in bed by 9pm. Trust me, they need it. Serious racing starts tomorrow at 10h30 local time.
Team Western Cape – Qingdao Day 4
Today was a good day, log and hot, but enjoyable. We set off at 08h20 to the Marina and the sailors quickly set up their boats while I fetched the RIB. When I got back I tweaked each sail and checked all knots as the ropes given to us are prone to slipping and fraying. We set off at 10am for the start of the practice race with the Russian and the Chinese Coach also asked to join us. The Russians aren’t a very well oiled machine and I ended up coaching some of their sailors in order to get them to the start on time.
The start was postponed three times as the wind came and went. There was a very strong current running directly through the start line towards mark one so many of the novices were struggling to keep behind the start line and this resulted in 2 recalls. The black flag came out and off they went. Jared had a great start as did most of the South African Team. At mark one Jared and Ross were neck and neck all the way down to mark three and four where they got tangled up in a huge mess of boats trying to round the mark and forgetting about the current and getting pushed onto each other. Rivaldo scored out of the mess and sailed around everyone. Jared finished 20th, Ross 21st, Rivaldo 22nd and Eurios 41 out of 63. Damita finished 17 out of 32 as she thought she was OCS but wasn’t. We all returned to shore and changed out clothes and headed off for a quick lunch and then a visit to the aquarium. However due to the lateness we missed the dolphin show, but it was still quite and experience.
After an early dinner we were bussed to the Marina where an incredible stage had been set up. The sailors were marched onto stage as a practice and then seated again as the dignitaries arrived. Once the proceedings started Eurios and Damita went up to represent South Africa. Later we were asked if the 4 other members of our team would go up as well, an honour that only our team was given. Then back to the hotel for a well deserved sleep.
Tomorrow we are taking the Optimists out on the water for a parade and drone video footage and then back in for lunch, whereafter we will be addressed but some celebrities and then get a chance to visit the yacht Pallada. http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/998647.shtml
Team Western Cape – Qingdao Day 3
Today was a tough one, I certainly have high respect for any coach travelling to these types of regattas with 5 or more sailors.
The day started out well with a nice breakfast and an air conditioned ride down to the Olympic Sailing Center. Once there we went to collect our boats, but there was some confusion about which boats we would receive, however Bev persisted and we were given 6 boats. However we were give training masts and booms with no ropes on them and a packet of ropes and blocks of various sizes. The blocks too were training blocks and no ratchets. I guess the light winds here means they don’t need them. With no manual included I had to “wing” it and finally managed to work out where each rope went. The Sprit system is a very basic system. We soon had a production line going and sorted out all 6 boats chop chop.
The heat was intense today, just 40 degrees with incredible humidity. Dripping with sweat we walked down to the Regatta Center for lunch in an airconditioned room thank goodness. There were only chopsticks available, no spoons or forks, so the sailors had great fun in trying to eat rice and stew with them.
At 1pm I collected the RIB and met the sailors at the slip and we headed out to sea. A few local Chinese sailors joined us on board to go and see their team mates practising. The Russians who were supposed to share a coach boat with us had arrived two hours late as they had overslept and had only entered restaurant as we were leaving, so we departed without them. We headed out to the racing area and did some drills in very light airs, probably around 3 to 5 knots which kept coming and going. After 2 hours we headed back in as we were told to return the RIB no later than 15h30 so it could be refueled.
The sailing is going to be challenging in these conditions as the wind is very light and comes and goes and the boat often bob around with the sails flapping going nowhere. It takes a lot of effort to concentrate and keep the sail set correctly and the boat moving forward. We practiced this today and will do more practicing tomorrow.
We were greeted back at the Marina buy a very grumpy Russian Coach, but we said “Hey, you were late” and they said ok ok. All good, but tomorrow on the RIB may be awkward.
We returned to the hotel for an early dinner and now the sailors are practicing for their show that they have to present at the opening ceremony tomorrow evening.
The schedule for tomorrow is a practice race at 10h30 and then at 13h30 and I believe possible also a visit to the aquarium. Thereafter Bev is attending an opening dinner with the dignitaries and then we all go to the opening ceremony at 19h30.
I think the sailors will sleep well tonight, I know I will!
Team Western Cape – Qingdao Day 2
Last night we went to a local tiny Chinese restaurant where all the locals go. Language was an issue again with the older folk, but we managed to communicate with the young girl and got what we wanted. Menu’s are a no no in these restaurant, let alone a wine list. The food however was simple yet full of flavor and 5 hungry sailors wolfed down massive bowls of noodles and beef in a broth. After a quick walk back to the hotel everyone went to their rooms. The team from Taiwan joined our team in their rooms and all ended up having arm wrestling competitions on the bed. Lights out at 9pm and there were no complaints about that.
We slept in late and had the strangest breakfast of my life. Very hard to describe what I was eating most of the times, but I did managed to find toast what was incredibly sweet and a fried egg. Lots of fish and vegetable dishes are the order of the day here. During breakfast we met the New Zealand and Australian team. The New Zealand Coach said the Lions are playing in the final this weekend, good to know, you can see I am not a rugby supporter.
We had a 1 hour video training session in my room with videos of the tracker from the 2012 worlds. I have been trying to teach the sailors what is will be like to start in a fleet of 50 plus boats. I think it sunk home but we will see come race day.
We arranged taxis and along with our interpreters Eric and Albert we headed off to the Buddhist Temple. Traffic was a nightmare as they are working on the underground forcing people to make use of their cars and bus system.
At the temple we saw the first beggars we have seen since arriving which was quite strange. Eric, although a non Buddhist was quite knowledgeable on the religion and told us that around half the country worship Buddha and the other half are basically Atheists. All over the place people were burning long incense sticks and praying, then when finished they would throw the sticks into the fire, so the entire place was full of this scented smoke. We were only allowed into one of the prayer rooms which I assume was reserved for foreigners. They were quite strict about where we could take photos and removing our headgear. I have to admit for a communist state there is very little evidence of this.
Lunch was served at the hotel which consisted of a very basic grilled chicken with rice and some sort of green bean with hash browns. Very tasty.
Bev bravely offered to take the sailors off to the beach in the afternoon to let them experience the waters here, I await her return while I have a power nap.
Bev has returned the and the trip to the beach was diverted to the Marina due to heavy traffic. They all visited the launching area and checked out the boats they will be using and got ice creams. All the sailors are in one room some calling him using whatsapp and some having fun from the sounds of the thumps coming from the room.
We had a Team Leaders meeting at 6pm and met the Russian team leaders Konstantin who is a very pleasant guy, actually thought he was South African at first, and the Coach Svetlana who looks like a bulldog and told me in no uncertain terms that she is driving the boat! I have attached tomorrows schedule to the email.
Dinner was another interesting one, most dishes were unrecognizable, so the kids went straight for the prawns. I tried a lovely tomato and egg soup then some dumplings and spicy pork in cabbage.
The sailors are running around exchanging caps with the other teams. Bev cleverly brought along a bunch of spare caps to swap. At 8pm we will have another briefing in my room on what to expect tomorrow and what to take down to the water. We will be issued boats, rig them up and then have a light lunch and then go onto the water for free practice with the Russians.