Infobank

Sailing in China at Xiamen

Updated: 08 Nov 2013
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Xiamen Marina in Wuyan Bay
   
China is now a country determined to successfully compete in the world’s most prestigious sailing events. The 2011/2012 Volvo Ocean Race stopover, Round Hainan Island International Regatta and Hong Kong-Sanya International Sailing Competition in Sanya; China Club Challenge Match 2013, 2nd "Strait Cup" Sailing Competition, and Xiamen-Hong Kong Sailing Rally in Xiamen; The beautiful ocean city of Qingdao in 2008 hosted the sailing regatta during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

Before 1978, sailing for pleasure might have been seen as a somewhat western activity in China. However, by 1981 things had changed. The formation of the Chinese Yachting Association (CYA) signaled China’s growing interest in sailing as a recreational pastime, rather than a strictly trade-driven, exploratory pursuit.

Three years later the newly formed Association was a fully paid up member of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). And then along came an economic boom, unprecedented growth, the first Chinese millionaires, power-boats and luxury sailing. Now with over 15 major yachting centers to its credit in coastal cities such as Sanya in Hainan, Qingdao [the city that hosted many of the 2008 sailing events] and Dalian in Shangdong, China is flexing its nautical muscle.

By the 2008 Olympics Chinese sailors had already notched up a string of medal successes and went on to celebrate golds in canoeing, rowing and a bronze in a sailing event, during its host year victories. For a country still a relative newcomer in the world of competitive water-sports and sailing, this was quite an achievement.

At the heart of this development is a small but significant island, Xiamen—situated in the Taiwan Straits some thirty or so miles from the disputed territory of Taiwan and just over an hour’s flight from Hong-Kong. 
 

China Club Challenge Match 2013, 2nd "Strait Cup" Sailing Competition, and Xiamen-Hong Kong Sailing Rally were held in Xiamen
 
Twenty years ago Xiamen was little more than a fishing community. The local Xiamen Government spotted an opportunity to develop the small island into a luxury centre for the Chinese nouveau-riche, and embarked upon a building project that was as ambitious as it was audacious. In the last five years an infrastructure has emerged, sometimes seemingly overnight, which includes new highways, bridges, tunnels, hotels and two significant new yachting centers.

Xiamen is probably the best place in China to build yachting centers due to good year-round weather conditions and extraordinary coastal waters. As a fast emerging ‘sailing-city’ Xiamen has two major marinas— the existing Wuyuan Bay Marina, and the Xiangshan International Yachting Club—a massive 250,000 sq meter seashore reclamation project, costing around RMB3.5 billion and provides berths for around 600 vessels.

Wuyuan Bay Marina Complex, opened in 2006, is a multi-billion yuan government project, which has turned Wuyuan bay into a massive marina leisure complex. Xiamen, the ‘new-kid-on-the-block’ has become the foremost marine sporting and leisure centre in China.

As a training center for future participants in worldwide sailing events, the Wuyuan Bay project is already providing training help and support to youngsters. The National Olympic Community Sailing Project (NOCSP), a scheme designed to give opportunities to young people to learn to sail competitively, had its first intake and training event there in 2007. More are planned. Increasingly people who can’t afford a yacht of their own, but who still wish to learn to sail are joining clubs. Local membership has increased significantly and clubs such as Iron Rock and Wuyuan Bay Sailing are seeing unprecedented demand for their services. And of course as demand grows then boat-builders and support industries also start to take root.

Judging by the number of boats sporting well-known brand names, currently bobbing up-and-down in the waters of Xiamen’s new marinas, the Xiamen City Government has made a good decision.

The Xiamen International Boat Show is held during World Ocean Week, during the first week of November normally —more proof that China has made the transition from the revolutionary vision of Mao, to a world economic superpower, with all the trappings of wealth symbolized by the building of its new yachting playgrounds. Image spending maybe, but still a breathtaking investment in maritime infrastructure.

SOURCE: WOX Info
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