|MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-(17-1-2005) Five officials at the forefront of the Beijing Olympics Sailing Competition in Quing Dao in 2008 arrived at Sandringham Yacht Club to get some ‘on the job’ training at the Olympic & Invited Classes regatta at Sail Melbourne.
In a first for Beijing and Australia, the group, headed by Meng Shuxia, Deputy Secretary General of the Chinese Yachting Association, will return to China today to their normal jobs at the Yachting Association. As part of their duties though, they will train their countrymen in readiness for Quing Dao.
Ms Shuxia says for her, the focus will be on communications. She explained, ‘by that I mean getting the Chinese Sailing Event officials to communicate with the rest of the team (who will be international) in communicating in English.
The Chinese will need to learn all the sailing terms in English, including terms used by English speaking Race Management, on and off the water. We will need to know the correct terms for arranging courses and use of general sailing terms, even simple things like buoys, drop the anchor, etc. we need to be able to think and do these quickly when the Games start.’
‘It is compulsory to learn English in China from Third Grade onwards. If you do not continue to speak English after school (which many do not have a need to), then you lose the art of speaking it,’ says Ms Shuxia, whose own English is excellent.
Cheng Jing Jing is one of two females in the team. Her focus in Quing Dao will be on administration, so that is the training she got at Sail Melbourne. Ms Jing trained under Chairman, Kevin Wood, Principal Race Officer Kevin Wilson and onshore Administration Manager Sam Maffett, spending most of her time with the latter.
Prior to leaving Australia, Ms Jing commented, ‘Australians I have found to be very helpful and friendly to us. Anything we asked – sometimes we asked a lot of difficult things, but they were always ready to help us.’
Ms Jing’s job in Quing Dao will be the onshore administration, including liaising with the International Race Committee, International judges, jury members, coaches, sailors and the media. She will also play the role of interpreter.
‘I learned a lot here,’ she said. Every morning Mr. Wood organised a meeting with the five of us and he would tell us what was planned for that day. Then we went to debrief, then we went to the person who would teach us.
We all learned a lot, I feel more confidence now in what I will do and I am so happy to be given this big opportunity,’ Ms Jing said.
Kevin Wilson, she said, was of big help to her and the three Chinese men who concentrated on the on-water race management. ‘One of the first words the Chinese team picked up was ‘OK,’’ one Australian crew member laughed as he told.
Ms Shuxia has the advantage on the other four, having been to the Barcelona, Sydney and Athens Games, so has been garnering her knowledge for some years.
‘We are hoping Kevin Wilson will come to be our P.R.O. in China. Australia has a very high standard of officials – that was obvious from the Sydney Games and now here,’ she said.
The Quing Dao Sailing venue will be ready prior to August 2006, when China will host its first Test Event. The venue will be larger than Sydney, but smaller than Athens, taking in the best of the two venues, according to Ms Shuxia.
Quing Dao is one hour’s flight from the main Beijing Games centre, but plans are already in place to get sailors to and from the Opening and Closing ceremonies.
Describing the venue, the Deputy Secretary said that competitors would sail on the open sea, much the same as off Sydney Heads, but flatter and calmer, where sailors can expect winds up to 10 knots, come competition time in August.
‘How can you say what to expect? What is normal? Wind could go over 10 knots and then might be 5or under. We will have to wait and see. What sailor will find difficult about Chinese sea is the big four metre tides and strong current.
While a Chinese team was not in evidence at Sail Melbourne 2005, it is because they have a number of (10 or so) National Championships in China this year, so are in the South of China (where it is summer) training.
However, the team will be on the move next year and will attend Olympic class regattas including Hyeres, Spa and Sail Melbourne 2006.
Ms Shuxia said the five officials were very luck to attend Sail Melbourne. ‘We really appreciate all the help and support we had, we learned very much, which is a good start for 2008. We thank all the people in Melbourne for their help.
‘Without Kevin Wood, this program would never have happened. I met Kevin at the ISAF conference in November. He discussed us coming to Melbourne and arranged it straight away! He is a clever thinker, he thinks about the future, then he makes it happen. Others had talked and talked about learning how to run the Olympics – but then nothing happened.
‘I also thank Kevin Wilson for his help with race management on the water. He is very good at this job and we are lucky to learn from him. He gave our team very good training on the water.
‘Before we came here, a lot of people who will be managers at the Beijing Olympics told us how lucky we were to be coming to Australia to learn. Everybody says that Sydney held the best Olympics, so they know we were lucky to learn here in Melbourne, but we already knew that.
‘Sailing, you know, had a lot of firsts for Beijing Olympics, from all the events,’ Ms Shuxia said.
‘First ISAF sent letter to the Sailing Federation to confirm everything is on target for Quing Dao
‘We will be the First venue ready from all of the venues
‘We are the First to get training away from China
‘We are the First to gain experience of running Olympic event,’ she said.
‘Yes, we are very lucky, Ms Jing added.