The boats in charge of picking up the algae in Qingdao break for lunch

The boats in charge of picking up the algae in Qingdao break for lunch

Qingdao life

Ben Remocker and Gordon Cook (Canada's Olympic 49er reps) send an update on their campaign and the Algae situation

Monday July 21st 2008, Author: Ben Remocker, Location: United Kingdom
So we are nearing the end of our final training camp here in China and it's been a success so far. Our new boat arrived almost right when we got here so we spent a couple evenings putting it together while sailing our training boat and then have been using her for the past few days. She's a beauty!

The sailing has been going well also. The fleet got together and organized a practice regatta that was held over two days. We had four races each day in the normal light winds here in China and had about 17 boats racing (19 in the games). Gordo and I had a few really good races with two sixths and two seconds as well as some results nearer the back of the fleet. This is the best we've ever done in light air so are feeling more confident. As a team we've now lost 13-14 kg since when we qualified in Portugal last summer (if you remember that was a very windy regatta) and I'm sure that is part of our increased success in light air. We're also quite happy in retrospect with how our year plan has come along as the skills we worked on in San Diego, Los Angeles and the 2 previous camps here in China have proven useful. We still have a bit of work to do in the next couple of days before we head to Toronto.

What's more on our mind now is the low pressure system that has moved into the area for the past two days (and today by the forecast). It has been very windy and wavy so we've now been adapting back to that mode of sailing and seeing how we can fair. We set up our training boat again yesterday to take care of our new boat and were the only team to head onto the water all day. It was pretty challenging with huge waves and quite high sustained winds. At some points we were launching so much of the boat out of the water going upwind over the waves that we had to slow down. This of course is the normal case for us downwind in these conditions but for a racer is tough to get in our heads. Take a look at the photos, one has the boat almost completely out of the water even though the spinnaker has almost no wind it in as we hide it behind the main sail to keep slower (below). The other is us almost getting thrown off the boat by a wave while going upwind (above). That's windy!

Also, the algae situation here is interesting. The chinese have assembled about 1000 boats (photo of them rafted up for lunch top) and a bunch of oil spill collection barriers. The barriers collect the algae and then the fleet pick it up each day. It generally works quite well but as it's been windy and wavy they system isn't working. The algae can get past the barrier and the fleet can't get out because it is too rough.

The result is that our sailing area is a mine field of seaweed. This really added an extra dimension to yesterdays practice as not only were we having to survive the conditions but we needed to avoid the algae patches. Well, the last photo I've attached shows what happens when you don't do it right (below). Laugh it up, I know we were somewhat amused.

We'll be back to Toronto in a couple days for the big send off and I'm looking forward to seeing anyone that can make it!

Gordon Cook and Ben Remocker are currently preparing for their first Olympic Games in the 49er class. The pair's progress can be followed at:

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