Six sailors and coach Aaron Hume-Merry (with manager Kimberly Rees) were recently on a twelve day trip in China where they attended the ‘Double Star Cup’ 2012 Qingdao International Optimist Training Camp & Regatta.
Sailors are Charlotte Porter, Chelsea Rees, (coach Aaron Hume-Merry) Kate Stewart, Oscar Gunn, Daniel Wilks, and Emma French.
The Optimist Regatta was just a small part of China’s annual International Sailing Week held in Qingdao to promote the advancement of sailing in the country and was held at China’s National Sailing Centre (which was specifically built for hosting the sailing events in the last Olympics in 2008).
From the time they stepped off the plane our kiwi sailors were treated as ‘international sailing stars’ as the film cameras were there and the kids were often being photographed / interviewed throughout the various events.
After travelling and settling in for two days, the first four days were a ‘camp’ for the local sailors but the kiwis and Americans took every opportunity to get some on-water practice and training (usually against each other) when time allowed in between the scheduled group cultural activities that took place – such as ceremonies, city tours, guest speaker talks, boat parades, etc.
Regatta racing was over three days, boys and girls sailed separately. The first day’s racing was delayed until the afternoon due to lack of wind –very hot and humid but two races eventually were held in light shifty wind. Second racing day was very different weather as it was raining in the morning with much cooler 18-20 knot breeze that died down in the afternoon over the three races. The third day’s weather was absolutely perfect (clear, smog-free sky) with a consistent 12-15 knot breeze but only one race was held due to the overall programme schedule for the closing ceremony to be held that evening.
Great regatta results for our kiwi sailors – in the girls Chelsea came 1st place, Kate 5th, Emma 7th, Charlotte 13th and in the boys Daniel came 12th and Oscar 16th. The kids did New Zealand proud and lived up to their ‘international sailing star’ status (which they were labelled with even before they started racing!).
The closing ceremony for the regatta was also another place that the kiwi kids shined as they did an absolutely awesome waiata & haka on a big stage, with fancy lighting in front of hundreds of people which represented New Zealand perfectly and they got rave reviews afterwards – check it out on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNaCewa5cgg&feature=em-share_video_user.
At the end of the trip the team had a couple of free days in Qingdao which was spent sightseeing and market shopping with new local friend Lv Xiang who stayed with the team even though his volunteer duties for the sailing week were over. On the last day he brought the team to his parent’s home for a luscious authentic Chinese smorgasbord lunch especially prepared by his mum.
Participating in the China’s International Sailing Week / Optimist Regatta along with all the associated activities was full of fun, everyone got along so well, made some great friends and had an amazing sailing and cultural experience that will last a lifetime.
General photos of the trip have been put on 2012 New Zealand Qingdao Optimist Team.