Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Asian Games J/80 Tour de Force

China hosting Asian Games for sailing in Guangzhou(Guangzhou, China)- South China's host city of the Asian Games is one of the top ten cities in China.  For most Westerners this may mean nothing.  However, taken in the context of most cities around the world, Guangzhou is in the world's top 20!  Or, perhaps for many of you, a more sobering thought taken in the context of history, over half of the world's top 20 cities are in China-- and Beijing is not the biggest! 

Taking place on the water off the Shanwei Water Sports Centre is a remarkably well-organized and efficiently run regatta with a fabulous technical tour'de'force of media employing every imaginable means of technology to bring it home to the Chinese masses- live on-water video, helicopters, remote control drones doing live video and so forth.  Nothing is spared to ensure the event is brought to the living rooms of those in the Asian/ Middle Eastern World.  Remember, the "Golden Triangle" comprised of Japan to China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and points in between comprise over $20 trillion USD in GDP today....hmmm, a bit more than America.

J/80 fleet for Asian Games- ready to go sailing in match racingSailing in this event are an Olympic cross-section of classes, including Lasers, Optimists, and Hobie 16s.  Plus, J/80s for match racing.  So far, the Malaysian Team is doing quite well in the J/80s match racing.  Not far off the pace are the Singapore and Chinese teams.  The list of teams competing in the event include China, Japan, Korea, Pakistan, Bahrain, Singapore, Malaysia and India. According to Jim Johnstone in Xiamen, China "we got the J/80s ready for the Asian Games this past week.  The list of countries participating in the event will someday read like a "who's who" for top Asian sailors.  The event so far has been very good, the area that they are sailing in is quite windy this time of the year.  Best compared to American sites like Corpus Christi, Texas where it blows 20+ knots each day and it's relatively warm.  The teams have had two brand new 3/4 oz conventional spinnakers blow-up and one T-bone, but we are dealing with those things. Since there are only 8 teams it is not hard to pull two boats out of the rotation and switch on the dock." 

J/80s sailing at Asian Games in Guangzhou, ChinaThe 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, opened in dramatic style with a ceremony which drew on Guangzhou's rich maritime history, held in a purpose built arena, located on a small island on the Pearl River. Sailing is one of the 42 sports in this multi-sport event, held every four years in Asia, allowing athletes from all over the Asian continent to compete.

Perhaps most remarkable about this event is the degree to which national sailing authorities (NGO's) in Asian nations take national pride and success in such endeavors as seriously as they do.  It does not take one to scratch the tablets of world history very deeply to appreciate their perspectives in the age of discovery and exploration in the 16th century onwards.  Asia was at the cross-roads of powerful commercial interests and sailing ships, captains, navigators, navies were integral to their successes or failures over the course of time.  Seems to many that they're learning from such experiences fast and accelerating quickly past many of their friendly Western friends not only in the sport of sailing, but in business and culture, too.

Indicative of this change is how sailing is perceived by leaders in the Middle East and Asia and how strongly, in fact, they support sailing as a sport and activity for their growing middle classes.  Leading up to the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, a number of sailors and their sponsors in these countries issued some very interesting statements supporting such endeavors.  Read more about their sailing initiatives in the Sailing section here on the Asia Games 2010 site.