The race CEO Glenn BOURKE was in Qingdao for an official signing ceremony with the city's Vice Mayor Zang AIMIN who said that Qingdao, which is hosting the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition, was seeking to establish itself as China's city of sailing.
'With its selection as the stopover for the Volvo Ocean Race, Qingdao can further enhance its positioning and strategy. Qingdao will gain rich experience in the organisation of elite sailing competition following its hosting of the Olympic Games,' ZANG said at the signing ceremony.
'With our professional talent and world-class facilities, we believe Qingdao will be able to provide high-quality service to the world's premier round the world event - the Volvo Ocean Race,' she added.
BOURKE said the race's stopover in China for the first time was a milestone in the history of international ocean racing. 'Qingdao's facilities and the city's enthusiastic support for our event have left a deep impression on us. We are really looking forward to coming here in early 2009,' he said. The fleet will arrive around the spring festival and stay for about three weeks.
BOURKE and a team of race officials visited Qingdao in April after signing a co-operation agreement in Beijing with the Chinese Water Sports Administration Centre and the Chinese Yachting Association.
Race organizers have held discussions with a number of Chinese ports and there is still the potential for a second city to be selected as a pit stop before the fleet sails its longest leg, 12,000 nautical miles, to South America. Among the other cities, Shanghai appears the most likely but negotiations are continuing.
Qingdao, home of the famous Tsingtao beer, will serve as the main stopover with in-port racing and a pro-am event as part of the programme.
The 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race will be the 10th running of this iconic ocean marathon. The race, established in 1973 as the Whitbread Round the World Race and lasting more than nine months, will journey more than 39,000 nautical miles and visit up to 12 countries and ports on its new route.
After its start in Alicante, Spain, in mid-October 2008, the fleet sails via Cape Town in South Africa to the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia before its stop in China ahead of its longest leg to South America. It then stops in Boston on the US East Coast and sails to Galway on Ireland's west coast on the way to a Baltic port finish.
The race now has seven confirmed entries with crews racing aboard the Volvo Open 70, the world's fastest monohull racing yacht. The new route will provide huge challenges in physical and mental endurance as well as technology.The Volvo Ocean Race is an ISAF Special Event. For more information on the Volvo Ocean Race, the Volvo Open 70 and the teams competing, visit the official Volvo Ocean Race website - www.volvooceanrace.org.
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