Regatta entrants undergo tough security checks
Su Xuemei in Qingdao
Security was tight as Chinese organisers yesterday welcomed competitors for the 2006 Qingdao International Regatta - the first test event for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The nine-day regatta, which starts on Monday, has attracted more than 450 sailors and 23 teams who will be competing in 11 events that make up the nine classes of the new Olympic format.
Sailors taking part in yesterday's measurement testing had to endure policemen wielding handheld metal detectors while also having their equipment bags checked. Boats were searched by sniffer dogs as they left the Yin Hai Sailing Training Centre for the Olympic Sailing Centre.
'It's quite surprising to see such tight security measures for the equipment measurement,' said Hong Kong boardsailor Ho Chi-ho, who will be racing with teammates Chan King-yin and Cheng Kwok-fai in the men's RS:X event.
'But I think the authorities are just making sure that it is 100 per cent safe.'
The Qingdao Public Security Bureau, which is responsible for the security measures of the test event, said they needed to protect the safety of all participants and people who entered the Olympic Sailing Centre.
However, for the Hong Kong team, which includes female boardsailors Chan Wai-kei and her younger sister Wai-man, the main concerns were the wind conditions and strong currents.
'We have been here for five days and so far we've only been able to train for five hours on the water,' said coach Ben Cheung Kwok-bun. 'The wind conditions only improved on Thursday and reached about 12 knots. Today it looked fine.
'Hopefully, we will be OK when the regatta starts.'
Only six out of a scheduled 11 races were completed when the national windsurfing championships took place at the Olympic course last month owing to a lack of wind.