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10 August 2007, 04:21 pm
Second Olympic Test Event Underway
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The focus is on China as the Olympic Test Event begins in Qingdao

Qingdao International Regatta 2007
Qingdao, China

The ISAF Grade 2 Qingdao International Regatta, the second and final of the Good Luck Beijing Olympic Test Events, opens today. Six days are scheduled for registration and measurement before the first races begin on 15 August. Before then, on 12 August, the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Centre will host the Opening Ceremony for the Test Event.
The principle aim of the regatta is to test all aspects of the event to ensure every preparation has been made when the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition comes around next August. For the sailors, the principle focus will be on familiarizing themselves with the conditions out on the five racing areas. Behind the scenes, every detail of the regatta will be under evaluation - whether it be race management, medal ceremonies, scoring systems, anti-doping facilities or translation services. Helping to ensuring a successful event are 1,770 volunteers, whilst over 60 members make up the ISAF Race Officials team.

IOC President Jacques ROGGE says the tests events are a key element in success of the Olympic Games, 'They allow the organisers and all entities involved in Games operations to have a kind of 'dry run' - that is do a dress rehearsal and in so doing, identify and assess potential issues and then work towards any fine-tuning that might be needed. We have learnt through our Olympic experience that test events are key to the success of the Games.'

Sailing has already held one Olympic Test Event in Qingdao last August, but there are some important differences in 2007, bringing this year's event even closer into line with the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition. This year each nation will only have one entry per event, whilst the Medal Races for the two windsurfer fleets will end with a technical, slalom course.

A total of 463 sailors from 52 nations have registered to compete in Qingdao this year. With a final opportunity to test the conditions during the same time period that the Olympic Sailing Competition will be held, it is no surprise to see the sport's biggest stars turn out in Qingdao. Amongst the big names to look out for are Ben AINSLIE (GBR), making his first appearance in the Finn since his star turn at last year's test event. Several top crews will be appearing in Qingdao for the first time after missing last year's test event. Amongst them is AINSLIE's former Laser adversary and newly crowned Star World Champion Robert SCHEIDT (BRA), who lines up in the Star fleet with crew Bruno PRADA. Triple Women's 470 World Champions Marcelien DE KONING and Lobke BERKHOUT (NED) are also making their debut at the test event this year.

Following on from a practice race on 14 August, racing starts on 15 August and continues through to 23 August. The 22-23 August are scheduled for the Medal Races, whilst 24 August is a reserve day. The scheduled start time for each day of racing is 13:00. Racing will be held across five race areas out of the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Centre. Race area A, in front of the breakwater close to the shore, will host the Medal Races.

Last August the British team dominated the regatta, ending with eight medals, four of them gold. After topping the medal table at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Cascais, the Brits will again be favourites to lead the way. A lot of attention will also be focussed on the Chinese team to see whether they can equal or surpass their five medals from 2006.

With less than one year to go until the start of the Beijing Olympic Games, the second Olympic Test Event will provide the biggest clue yet as to who the sailing world can expect to see standing on the Olympic podium next year.

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