6 Western Cape Optimist sailors arrived in China on Monday to participate in the Qingdao International Optimist Training Camp & Regatta. This amazing opportunity has been made possible by the Western Cape Government Department of Cultural Affairs & Sport (DCAS).
Nations competing: New Zealand, Russia, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Australia, South Africa and 10 teams from China. Total of 202 sailors participating.
Team Western Cape:
Rivaldo Arendse (Milnerton Aquatic Club)
Eurios Horne (George Lakes Yacht Club)
Ross MacKinnon (Milnerton Aquatic Club)
Damita Olsson (Milnerton Aquatic Club)
Hamilton Slater (Zeekoe Vlei Yacht Club)
Jared Tyler (Milnerton Aquatic Club)
Bev le Sueur (Vogelvlei Yacht Club) – manager
André Wollheim (Milnerton Aquatic Club) – coach
The events and sailing schedule:
Tuesday 2 August
Here is a quick report on our trip so far.
We left in very high spirits from Cape Town and had a very pleasant flight to Dubai on a Boeing 777. The sailors all watched dozens of movies and played games on the on board entertainment system. A few had never flown before so the take off and landing were priceless to watch their faces. We landed at Dubai late evening and didn’t have time to explore before we took off again for Shanghai, this time on an Airbus A380. Most of us slept during the flight and as we traveled through the time zones and lost 6 hours we were woken up with lunch. We landed in Shanghai and the heat and humidity were very obvious however we were whisked into the air conditioned airport. We collected our bags and then went to find our sails.
This is where the troubles began as the language barrier was an issue. English is now compulsory in schools in China now but most of the adults don’t understand a word. Bev went off to the baggage enquiries while we waited by the oversized baggage and the kids played a variety of soccer and rugby for about two hours. Finally they gave us a form and said they would send the sails to Qingdao when found. We went through and found a Chinese restaurant and had a wonderful authentic Chinese meal. We then went to the gate for our next flight only to find it delayed. They could not give us a reason for the delay or a time that it would take off and other flights for Qingdao were taking off. After a discussion with our contact in Qingdao we were reassured that this was perfectly normal for China. After a 5 hour delay we boarded a small airbus and it appears the Captain put on the Turbo as our 1 hour 40 minute flight became 45 minutes.
We were met at the airport in the early hours of the morning by a delegation of Chinese led by Meng (pronounced Mung) and had a 40 minute drive to the hotel where we were checked in. The rooms are first class and the air conditioning a welcome relief. Qingdao is a huge city and makes Cape Town look tiny. Massive apartment blocks everywhere with beautiful gardens in between. Our hotel is in the “new” district of Qingdao built around 20 to 30 years ago as part of a planned expansion. Bev and Damita decided to go explore while myself and the boys had a shower and hit the bed around 6am.
We all woke up at 12 and headed down for a lunch of KFC burgers and chips. We were assigned two 17 year old local high school boys as our guides and they showed us the way down to the Olympic Sailing Center. They were both quite knowledgeable about the Olympic Village and gave us a brief history. We were then shown the sailing area where we would sail from and the Optimists we would be using. The sea was very flat and calm with a mild ten knot easterly blowing across the bay. The boys were full of questions about the local sailing here. As we were walking back we passed around 20 local young children dressed in sailing gear heading for a sailing lesson. We headed back to the hotel for another shower and some relaxing time. We will be going to a local Chinese restaurant later for some local cuisine.
André Wollheim – Team Coach