Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sarah Mergenthaler and Amanda Clark - Team Go Sail

Sarah Mergenthaler and Amanda Clark- Photo Credit Unknown
[Blog entry by Amanda] We arrived in Qingdao just over a week ago for our final training camp before the Olympic Games begin. When we were here training in May, we were one of a small group of teams training out of the Yin Hai Yacht Club, the official training site for the Olympics. Now, the boat park is a noisy, crowded yet exciting place.

It took us two days to get on the water as we wanted to finish all the remaining major boat work projects early in our training camp. Our Games boat is almost ready to go! After a week of training we have had some typical Qingdao conditions: light winds, strong current and choppy seas with an underlying swell. We have also had a few days of very dense fog with visibility under 30 feet. This has been the most challenging aspect of training so far.

Visibility was so poor that towing to our race area was impossible. We decided to go just a few hundred yards outside the harbor entrance and work on tight space maneuvering, starts and boat handling. We were making the most out of the day when we heard a low rumbling approaching our practice area. There is a fishing fleet with 100’s of wooden boats in the village right next to Yin Hai. These fishing boats are working 24/7 to clean the infamous algae out of the local waters. Through the fog the fisherman couldn’t see or hear us. We could hear them but not see them…..until one boat was almost on top of us in the 470! Fortunately, it was a near miss but we decided to call practice for the day.

Speaking of algae, we are happy to report that most of the green goo is history. The Chinese have done a tremendous job of cleaning the area and the algae has not impacted our training at all. This week we are racing in the “International Coaches’ Regatta” with 24 other boats. This will be a great dry run and final opportunity for large course racing before the Olympic Regatta. We are in the process of final evaluation on mains, jibs and spinnakers. We will return to the USA July 21 to attend the US Olympic Team Processing in San Jose, CA (US team uniform day!), then return to China.

Stay tuned for more reports from Qingdao!