Qingdao's annual sailing week underway

Updated: 2012-08-20 18:29

By Wang Kaihao (chinadaily.com.cn)

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More than 700 sailing boats and sailboards took to the waters off Qingdao, Shandong province on Saturday morning, to celebrate the opening of the 4th Qingdao International Sailing Week.

Various sailing competitions, sailing-themed musical concerts, sailing industry forums and photography exhibitions will take place during the 16-day event .

"We hold the event to promote sailing to young people, local citizens and tourists," said Qu Chun, a member of the race management committee of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and the vice-secretary general of the Chinese Yachting Association.

"This sport has the potential to develop into an important part of the country's overall sports and leisure economy."

Qingdao was the host city for the sailing competition at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and since then has been working hard to promote itself as the country's sailing capital.

He said the festival will include a series of cultural events to popularize sailing among local communities and schools in Qingdao.

Göran Petersson, the president of the ISAF, said at the gala opening ceremony on Saturday night, that he found it hard to believe the week-long event was only in its fourth year.

"It has already become a well-known item on the international sailing calendar, attracting many people from sailing communities around the world."

Petersson said he was also honoured to be one of the first people named in the sailing hall of fame, unveiled at Qingdao Sailing Museum on Saturday.

Qingdao has been named as an Asian venue for the ISAF Sailing World Cup in 2013 and 2014, and Petersson added that he believed the regattas will represent an important Olympic legacy for the city.