As Beijing was confirmed as the host city for the 2008 Olympics the sailing venue of Qingdao is already getting some practice by hosting the 45-nation under-16 Optimist World Sailing Championship.
The synergy is clear. While the Optimist Worlds has fewer sailors than the Olympics, it involves almost as many boats and is one of very few sailing events which offers an Olympic-style accommodation with all competitors in the same hotel/"village". On the water it is perhaps even more of a test of race-mangement skills with three successive starts each of 70 sailors.
It is almost certain that today's Optimist fleet will include several Olympians of 2008. Over half the dinghy helms in Sydney were former Optimist sailors and eight years before that event sailors at the 1992 Optimist Worlds included Laser gold-medallist Ben Ainslie.
Appropriately the management of the Qingdao Optimist event includes two of the five Olympic Race officers, Rene Kluin who is the Class president and Michel Barbier, chair of the ISAF Race Management Committee, while the shore organisation is under Meng Shuxia for the Chinese Yachting Association and Turkish Olympic teamleader Nazli Imre.
Chinese media were quick to see the potential of the Optimist event. In the hours leading up to the announcement the local television station highlighted the following participants as representing the future of world sailing.
They were :
Rania Ramadan (Egypt)
Leigh Kempton (USA)
Gritt Bjarnshave (Denmark)
Noor Hazarita (Malaysia)
Ahmad Hareb (United Arab Emirates)
Teiki Hacheche (France - Tahiti)
Charles-Henri Montredon (France)
Bernardo da Silva (Brazil)