Qingdao, China is the latest venue to be added to the ISAF World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) series schedule.
The Qingdao Match Cup taking place between 19 - 24 October has been added to the 2010 Tour calendar. During a ceremony hosted at the Yandao Hotel on 15 June, the Vice Mayor of Qingdao Municipal Government, Wang Xiulin, who is also the President of the Qingdao Yachting Association and Peter Gilmour, President of the WMRT, signed a five year agreement through to 2014, to host an annual stage of the ISAF World Match Racing Tour.
Qingdao Match Cup will be utilising 10 brand new Beneteau First 40 yachts to be delivered in mid July and the event will have as the new standard a total prize pool of USD$500,000. Racing will take place between the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Centre and the new city area that will host tens of thousands of spectators on a daily basis.
Qingdao is now the foremost location for sailing in China since hosting the sailing events for the 2008 Olympic Games. Being appointed as a World Match Racing Tour venue is yet another important milestone in the development of Qingdao's marine industry.
Qingdao, the sailing city has already successfully hosted stopovers for the 2008-2009 Volvo Ocean Race and the 2009-2010 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. It is a natural progression for this forward thinking city to host the WMRT which incorporates famed America's Cup style 'boat on boat' and annually attracts hundreds of thousands of onsite/virtual and television spectators. It is Qingdao's opportunity to be associated with the global sporting brand that is bringing match racing to the masses.
During a speech at the official signing ceremony, Wang Xiulin, Vice Mayor of the Qingdao Municipal Government, said to host the World Match Racing Tour is an important step for Qingdao. "The WMRT is a top class global series amongst international sailing events. It is important to us to have a world class event here, especially for those who are now fond of sailing. Once the Qingdao Match Cup is established, more people will get an opportunity to learn about match racing".
China is a vast population for the WMRT to penetrate and engage with. There are 1.3 billion people within the nation where sailing is growing in popularity. In the city of Qingdao alone, there are 8 million residents, about 2 million of these locals regularly take part in sports. Over the past few years in excess of 10,000 people have accepted the opportunity of sail training in Qingdao, which has led to 5,000 local residents taking part in regular sailing leisure pursuits.
The Vice Mayor added, "With the World Match Racing Tour coming to Qingdao this year, Qingdao will take the lead in hosting important international regattas in China".
Chairman of the Chinese National Sports Association, Qingdao, Madam Lin Zhi Wei commented "Qingdao has previously hosted the Clipper and Volvo Ocean Race and the WMRT allowing us to host the Qingdao Match Cup is a quantum leap into an ISAF World Championship."
The WMRT President, Peter Gilmour added "The ability of the city of Qingdao to organise a stage of the WMRT in such a short amount of time (four month period) was something we analysed carefully. As both a competitor and organiser I am delighted to see that the penultimate stage of the 2010 Tour will be simply outstanding as the city Of Qingdao is now ready for the Tour."
With the addition of Qingdao, the World Match Racing Tour will maintain the 10 venue format as proposed earlier in the year. As recently announced the local authority in Vietnam has decided to upgrade the Vietnam Match Cup to an event of national status. Due to this modification the Vietnam Match Cup has been postponed until the 2011 Tour year.
Sam Usher, Managing Director of Red Handed TV, the international production company for the WMRT who witnessed the ceremony said "the scale of the Qingdao dignitaries present at the signing ceremony is an indication of the truly amazing event to come to China's shores with the full weight of the Qingdao Sailing Association and City behind it. The world needs to watch out, Qingdao is here!".
Qingdao has a relatively short lived history of 100 years and is the first international sailing base ever built in China. The Tour will use the same marina development used for the 2008 Olympic Games, thus continuing the legacy of to the venue that "Welcomes the World'.
The World Match Racing Tour's 'Qingdao Match Cup' will have substantial onsite festivities with a boardwalk and stunning water fountain attracting visitors. Sport is seen as an effective medium in China to co-operate and integrate into global politics.
The city in particular believes that relations with the rest of the World will be directly strengthened through such an event. The city's support and vision indicates the potential for a truly amazing inaugural Qingdao Match Cup in October 2010.
For more details on the ISAF World Match Racing Tour visit: www.wmrt.com