Question marks over Qingdao

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 July, 2006, 12:00am

A lack of wind at the Olympic venue in Qingdao disrupted the national championships, raising concerns about the suitability of the site for the 2008 Olympic Games.

At the championships, which ended yesterday in Shandong province's biggest coastal city, Hong Kong's Chan Wai-kei finished second in the women's Mistral, which featured 25 of the country's top boardsailors.

But only six races out of the scheduled 11 were completed because of insufficient wind. The completed races were all sailed under light wind conditions, said Rene Appel, Hong Kong team head coach who accompanied the five-member squad to Qingdao.

'The wind was weak and no race was sailed over 10 knots, making it difficult for us,' said Appel, who treated the regatta as his first fact-finding mission for the Olympics. 'The facilities are still rudimentary, but this is not unusual. We have been assured that when the Olympic test events start next month, there will be far more facilities.'

The coach, however, was happy with the team's performances. 'Chan sailed consistently for a silver medal. She finished out of the top 10 only once in six races, while all team members now have valuable experience on the games course,' he said. Lin Zhixiang of Hainan province won the event with 15 penalty points, while Chan was on 17. Third place went to Chan Lina of Guangdong province with 18 points.

In the men's Mistral, Cheng Kwok-fai, who replaced injured Chan King-yin, was sixth. Another SAR sailor, Yu Wing-ho, came 10th in the men's Olympic class RS:X, while Chan Wai-man was 11th in the women's event.

The Hong Kong team, including Chan King-yin, who has recovered from a car crash last month, will leave for Qingdao again next month for the first Olympic test event from August 18-31, featuring only the RS:X class.