July 17, 2013. THREE GLORIOUS DAYS OF SAILING IN XIAMEN, XIAMEN, CHINA
The first Pan-Pacific University Sailing Championship (also billed as the Third Taiwan Strait College Regatta) got underway on Monday, July 15 and concluded on July 17, 2013, after three days of spirited and challenging sailing in light to moderate airs in Wu Yan Bay, Xiamen, China. Twenty college teams competed including the California State University Long Beach Sailing Team from Long Beach, California, Singapore Management University Sailing Team from Singapore, four teams from Taiwan, and fourteen teams from China, including local favorite, Xi amen University Sailing Team. The regatta opened with a distance race from Xiamen Beach back to Iron Rock Sailing Club in W Yan Bay. But there was more to opening day than just sailboat racing.
As Chinese cities compete with each other for success, and as government leaders seek accomplishments to embellish their records and advance their careers, hosting an international regatta is a big enough deal to merit an opening ceremony with dignitaries and TV coverage. But even, or perhaps, especially in China, the fundamentals of capitalism are at work. With China's economic slowdown and a new national campaign to curb excessive government spending and lavish entertainment, the opening ceremonies were much more restrained than before. A small gathering was held on Xiamen Beach with a few dignitaries making opening remarks before firing off the starting horn for the first race. As the sailors headed up the bay, the dignitaries went back to work, instead of celebrating with a lavish lunch. To make that few minute photo opportunity a success, the sailing teams were awakened at four a.m. to deliver the boats about 8 miles to the a mark just off shore of the grand stand. The boats sailed around for about two hours waiting for the festivities to start, before embarking on a twelve mile race back to the boats' home port in Wu Yan Bay. Many of the teams did not enjoy the early wake up, the long delivery, and the hours of waiting for the dignitaries to have their TV and photo opportunity to fire the opening horn. But it was a small price to pay for the privilege of getting to sail in this regatta and for the priceless opportunity to make new friends and gain increased understanding of a wide variety of cross-cultural
In light air against a strong current under overcast skies, and still suffering from jet lag, for the U, team the opening race was a bit of a challenge. But they hung on and managed to win their first race ever in Chinese seas.
Day 2 of the regatta was scheduled for round the buoy racing commencing at 10:00 am. But the wind Gods apparently were also jet lagged, and the wind - if you can call 5 knots ''wind'' -- did not kick in until about 1 :30 in the afternoon. The light breeze continued throughout the day until going really soft\ around 5 pm, with occasional oscillations that made the right side of the course look promising. But this \\jas an illusion and the boats that stayed left for both upwind and downwind legs did much better. Despite the light air, the race committee got in three races, and CSULB Sailing Team managed three bullets,\despite some vigorous competition from Singapore Management University, Xiamen University and several other teams.
Sun, blue sky and a freshening breeze greeted the gathering of international collegiate sailors op Day 3 of the regatta. Every start was much more hotly contested on day three than on the first two days of the regatta, with a cacophony of shouts and yells reaching a crescendo as the boats fought for positi0Y and the starting horn was fired. Several boats were over early, but CSULB managed a clean start each race, and with superior boat speed and focused sailing, they consistently pulled ahead of the fleet. With b01ts lofting kites of solid yellow, blue, orange, green, red, black, white and pink, the racing fleet generated a rainbow across the course. As on the first two days, the pink kite of CSULB on boat # 8 dominate the races, and led the fleet around each mark, though often with the teams from Xiamen University and Singapore Management University hot on their wake. With no start allowed after 3 pm, in order to have sufficient time to get the boats back to their docks and inspected and make it to a local water side resort hotel for the awards ceremony and closing festivities, the race committee, still managed to run three races.
All teams commended the principal race officer, a veteran sailor from Hong Kong and the ROY~ Hong Kong Yacht Club, and the entire race committee and jury members, from Hong Kong, France and China, for organizing and running an almost flawless regatta in accordance with ISAF rules. Despite some waiting around for the wind to settle in on day two of the regatta, the race committee established a disciplined regimen in getting races started in relatively quick succession. An offset mark to windward, and a gate to leeward, helped the boats keep at least a modest separation, and avoided an excessive amount of close quarter's mark roundings. There was still plenty of excitement at the mark roundings, with the usual mix of incomplete hoists and problems in dousing the kites that allowed some late starters to pass up the faster boats, making every boat work harder to maintain its position in the fleet. The team from CSULB, sporting black tank tops with the messages "CSULB NEVER YIELDS" and "FINISHING ON TOP SINCE 2010", maintained its reputation, capturing three bullets on day three, and
seven out of seven over all, to dominate the racing. Despite that success, the team learned a lot from the overall experience, honed their already well-oiled teamwork, and shared their experience in boat regatta preparation with the other teams.
The Closing Ceremony on Wednesday night was hosted by the Vice President of Xi amen University and other members of the organizing authorities, and was highlighted by each team providing a short performance ranging from the singing of popular songs to a martial arts tumbling routine by one lithesome sailor that was truly awesome. Shane Young, captain of CSULB Sailing team provided perhaps the most serious and most comical and warmly welcomed performance, by giving his closing remarks in something approximating Chinese. He was aided by one of Xiamen's pretty and vivacious university student volunteers, who translated when Shane's pronunciation was a bit weaker than the team's commanding sailing performance on the course.
Though the regatta is officially over, as I write this, I can hear the teams - all staying in the same Xiamen University Hotel as guests of the race organizers -- celebrating their victories long into the night. With sailing and sailboat racing still a relatively new sport in China - with many teams only having a few years' experience sailing - just competing in this regatta was a great learning experience for each team and provided an opportunity to make many new friends and to challenge and improve their boat handling, sail trim and understanding of the rules. And it improved their cross-cultural experience. All temps left the event invigorated by the challenges, experience and new friendships, and looking forward to seeing each other at future events in the United States, China, Taiwan and Singapore. All regatta teams agreed next year's regatta will be even more fun and challenging if more overseas teams join the race. And ~l teams
are looking forward to competing in regattas in the future in the United States, and to being pioneers in the growth and development of sailing and the recreational boating industry in China.
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