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  Plain sailing predicted for 2008  



QINGDAO: After wrapping up 11 events in nine classes, the "Good Luck Beijing - 2006 Qingdao International Regatta", pulled down the curtain last night at the international sailing city in East China's Shandong Province, sending a strong message that the 2008 Olympic Sailing Events are in good hands.

More than 503 world-renowned athletes from 40 countries participated in the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Grade 2 International Regatta, also known as the test event of the 2008 Olympics.

The athletes along with their 300 plus sailboats and sailboards put on a spectacular performance for viewers in all classes, which featured all the Olympic sailing competition events.

The regatta adopted a new competition format. The top ten competitors from the first ten qualifying races took part in the final medal race day, while the points of the results were doubled.

"I would like to congratulate the organizing committee on staging an excellent regatta. As the first training and test event for the 2008 Olympics, this has gone exceptionally well," David Kellet, ISAF Vice-President for the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition told China Daily yesterday.

Kellet singled out the venue - the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Centre, as worthy of praise.

"ISAF is very pleased with the result and feel that we are in an excellent position to move forward. The facilities created within this venue have worked extremely well and I know they will improve over the next year and will be exceptional in 2008. What a marvelous venue this will be. All involved should be extremely proud of what they have created."

The local people's and volunteers' friendliness and hospitality also left a deep impression on Kellet's mind.

"The organization on shore by all the volunteers was beyond our expectations. People of Qingdao have been very warm and friendly to all the sailors. The organization is first-class and far beyond what we expected. I think by the time the 2008 Olympics come around, the city of Qingdao will be celebrating," said Kellet.

"I made some constructive suggestions on how we can slightly improve the racing. One of the few areas is that we need to practice out on the water because we have a team of International Technical Officers (ITOs) and a team of National Technical Officers (NTOs) that are working together as a team for the first time. We need some practice in 2007, and by 2008 we are sure we will be ready," he added.

Kellet's credit was echoed by other officials.

"This venue in Qingdao is unsurpassed, compared to any sailing venues in past Olympic host cities. Essentially, Qingdao could hold the Olympics tomorrow," said David Tillett, Jury Chairman of the regatta, also Chairman of the Jury at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

"The sailing committee must be very proud of the venue, especially of the breakwater. As far as I know, more than 50,000 people have come to watch the sailing on the breakwater during the ten racing days, and millions viewed the event through the Internet, TV, radio and newspapers. I think the people of Qingdao will have a marvelous legacy here with this venue after the Olympic Games," said Tillett.

"We are satisfied with the regatta. All the world's top sailors are here, and it is so important to learn from our rivals and study the venue conditions here, and this event is a must for us to prepare for the coming Olympics," said Alain Champy, Team Official of France, "The organization of the event was similar to a real Olympic Regatta, with a sound security system and excellent venue construction."





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