How we traveled to China


      How we traveled to China
      Have you heard about Xiamen Island? This Chinese island in the Taiwan Strait can be called the "City for yachts." And all thanks to the yacht exhibition held there since 2008, as well as the water area – a natural harbor with a wide entrance and sufficient depth and a long coastline.

How we traveled to China

Compared to the northern coastal Qingdao, Xiamen is not cold in winter and not very hot in summer – the average annual temperature is 21 ° C.

In Xiamen, the Sailing Association is active. Among its members, IRON ROCK Sailing Club takes an important place. In November 2019, the IRON ROCK Sailing Club and the Nizhny Novgorod Children's River Shipping Company held the first Russian-Chinese children's sailing regatta The White Heron Cup. (According to the ancient name of Xiamen – "White Heron Island").

“The history of this regatta began with paper business card boats that I handed out in 2013 at a yacht exhibition in Xiamen,” said Alexandra Burova, co-organizer of the regatta, Chinese art researcher and yachtsman from Moscow. – Thanks to them, I met with trainer Liu Mingjun, and if officially – then the deputy general director in charge of the children's school at IRON ROCK Sailing Club. However, the decision to hold some kind of joint event was realized only four years later.

In 2017, the Nizhny Novgorod Children's River Shipping Company invited the Chinese team to take part in the Nizhny Novgorod Region Governor’s Cup in the Optimist class. The Chinese team IRON ROCK came in July this year. The Chinese side – both children and parents – really liked the Nizhny Novgorod regatta. They were placed and provided with boats, and I organized a sightseeing program for my parents. So in August, the Chinese side expressed a desire to hold a regatta in Xiamen and invited the Russian team there. The conditions are wonderful – everything is free for children, you only need to pay for the flight, the accommodation of parents and excursions. ”

We Muscovites learned about the regatta in Xiamen from Darya Startseva, the coach accompanying the Nizhny Novgorod team and, of course, wanted to see this “Chinese yacht paradise” with my own eyes. Five children (plus two parents) from Moscow, four children (plus two adults) from N. Novgorod and a boy with a mother from Sevastopol decided to change the November cold weather to the heat of a tropical island. Older and more advanced guys carried sails with them, younger students traveled light. Even wetsuits were not needed – the heat!

We arrived on the eve of the regatta – on Friday, the acceptance and arming of the boats, as well as the training of the Russian team, were scheduled. Placed us at the hotel of the Feng Shui Sailing Club in the northwest of the island. The yacht club lives up to its name "Feng Shui" – "wind-water." There is a large natural harbor, on one side of which there is a beach and a park with a bike path, and on the other side there is a large Wuyuanwan Marina, where a boat show was held on the weekend and where the children were brought to open / close the regatta. The hotel itself is very comfortable with a large cabin and dining room and beautiful rooms with sea views. At the yacht club there is a rental of kayaks, windsurfing and slide boards.

The Chinese have generously granted the first choice of boats to our team. The guys, with the help of Dasha and Sasha, who speaks excellent Chinese, selected and armed ten "Optimists", which were located there, not far from the hotel. It is interesting that the Chinese keep the mast and sails in an abandoned mansion on the embankment among ancient rickshaw carts, antique carved armchairs and other rarities, whose place is in the museum, and not in the house to be demolished.

On the planks laid on the ladder, the guys transported the boats to the beach, and since there was a tide, they quickly dragged them into the water. It is interesting that in many respects the life of the local sailing school depends on the ebb / flow, because the difference in water level at the beginning of November is about 5 meters, and taking boats through the mud tens of meters is a little fun.

While the young sailors got used to the sea conditions: currents and waves under the supervision of Dasha, coach Liu and Sasha took their parents to the city center – to the supermarket and bank. You can go to China for exotic fruits alone – mangoes and dragons (or pitaya – cactus fruits), as well as a variety of local food.

Acquaintance with the Chinese team took place on Saturday, when everyone armed the boats, and then waited for the tide, followed by dinner (sacred for every Chinese). Finally, everyone crossed over to the other side to Wuyuanwan Marina, listened to the ceremonial speech of Mr. Wei Jun, director of the Xiamen Sailing Association and part-time judge of the White Heron Cup. It is getting dark early in China, after 5 p.m., before that they managed to hold two races, not in the harbor, but in the open sea. Our guys could not get used to the flow. The wind was strong, the materiel broke, escort boats regularly rushed to someone to help. Andrei Lopatkin from Moscow managed to independently change the guy line, but Grisha Petrov left the second race because of problems with the materiel.

On the second day – perhaps thanks to Dashin’s thorough analysis of the past races – the guys were already feeling calmer on the water. Although acclimatization and lack of sleep (and the difference with Moscow is 5 hours), of course, affected. Spent four open water races.

In the meantime, the children chased their parents could visit the China (Xiamen) International Boat Show, held on the water and on the banks of the Wuyuanwan Marina. This year the exhibition was organized for the 12th time and, according to the Chinese, it was slightly smaller, which shows some economic decline in the country due to complex international relations. Of course, the largest exposition of motor yachts on the water was at Azimut. An impression was made by the American motor 145-foot catamaran with a submarine on board. According to the crew, he carries out scientific research for the United States and after the exhibition will go to Japan to examine the sunken ships. In addition to foreign brands, Taiwan-China shipbuilding was also presented at the exhibition: a 45-foot motor yacht from Montefino Yachts and an unfinished racing sailing yacht H930 from Huayi Yachts – the Chinese version of the J80, as well as amusing round-nosed Topper – a local analog to the Laser dinghies. The latter are very popular in China, they regularly hold competitions. More sailboats were the Hobbie Cat and the used Beneteau Oceanis. Of course, there were many different services, marine and other goods, hotels, balloons and racing cars. But the charter service and yacht schools were poorly represented.

In the evening there was again a “debriefing” and watching videos from the starts. Dasha gave the task to record her observations regarding the wind, the vantage point at the start, the speed of the current, where you were at the start and finish and why. For some children, this turned out to be a difficult task – to remember and write at least something. And all the more pleasant after the theory was to start a snake or to delve into the sand on the beach. Only gadgets or table football won, in which all the children fought recklessly.

Monday, the third and final day of the regatta, brought a very strong wind, so the distance was set in the bay. We spent four races, at the end of which the wind under the shore was so soured that those who chose this side ate within the control time. Since the race began unusually early, the boats were brought into the shallow water, and then they ended at lunch. Our guys quickly removed the materiel from the beach, changed into uniforms and T-shirts from the regatta, and drove along with everyone on the bus for awarding to Wuyuanwan Marina.

Our girls acted best of all – Lera Mitina and Lera Bespalova from N. Novgorod – they have first and second place. The entire pedestal of the boys was taken by representatives of the Chinese team. It must be said that the five Chinese who finished first each time differed from the other part of the team in their materiel – they had a mast blockage and the sails looked newer. Lopatkin Andrey, Fedosin Ivan and Panin Nikita were among the top ten Russians – they have 6.7 and 8 places, respectively. In the twenty – Komarov Vladimir, Petrov Grigory and Sukhomlin Mikhail (12,13 and 14 places respectively).

The real fraternization of Russian and Chinese children began at dinner and after it. Most attention was paid to Grisha and Chen Nanyu, who became friends in N. Novgorod. They also knew English and therefore spoke calmly. Most of the children did not know anything except their native language, which made communication a little difficult. Although the sign language and translators on the phones, of course, came to the rescue. All comers signed on tops and exchanged gifts. By the way, our team handed the Chinese a real painted samovar, nesting dolls and chocolates. The Chinese, too, were not indebted, especially lucky for those guys who began to learn Chinese – they were also given a musical alphabet and cards.

However, Chen Nany's mother, Zhuan Zhuifang, exceeded everyone, she brought food to the Russian team twice a week (fruits and sweets) and gave everyone gifts at the end. Interestingly, Chen Nan is the second child in their family. For a long time in China there was a policy of "one family – one child", the second child could only have an informal birth. This did not apply to national minorities and rural residents. On January 1, 2016, the One Child Act was repealed. Now it is allowed to have two children, and even minorities.

If the question arises – why did the regatta last only three days, then we must take into account that they are very serious about studying at a school in China, so the guys could only miss one day – Monday. The remaining three days before departure, we were devoted to excursions. And I must say that these were amazing and unlikely excursions! Many thanks to the organizers and Sasha, who tirelessly accompanied us and constantly translated and told us!

On the first day, we visited the Gulanyuy Museum Island – a tropical paradise with mountains, beaches and old houses. The peculiarity of the island is coconuts, mangoes, cut in the shape of flowers and an abundance of brides on all central streets and beaches. There we managed to get lost, but in the age of wi-fi and votsap, which, unlike social networks in China, works more or less normally, we were easily found.

Like Gulanyuy Island, the round houses of Tulou that we were taken to the next day are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These are ancient fortress houses, inside which the whole life of the Chinese of that time passed on the square. Now there is an active trade in tea, dried persimmons, reds inside Pamelo and various souvenirs. The houses are located in the mountains, from one to another you need to take a bus along a beautiful road lined with tea and rice plantations and fruit trees. At sunset, during the long journey back, we still got to the real ocean waves, watched the Chinese ride on surfs, had dinner at the surf station and dive in the waves. And once again we were convinced that the idea of ​​the Chinese as poor people is erroneous. On average, the Chinese now live richer than the Russians. So to order many goods, as before, in China is already unprofitable – the prices there are higher. This is especially true for some types of electronics.

Our last day was devoted to the study of beaches and the old center of Xiamen. Passing by Xiamen University (another local attraction), we found ourselves on endless beaches flowing into each other with picturesque round stones as in the pictures. We swam, ate mangoes and fried squids, received refreshments in one temple, made a donation in another, visited shopping streets, ate local delicacies and bought souvenirs. And in the evening, as usual, we sat in the mess room, drank tea with dried mango and talked for life. Good sailing in Xiamen!

And together with the organizer of the regatta, Mr. Liu Mingjun, we hope that the “White Heron Cup” will become an annual event, will attract children from many Russian and Chinese cities and will continue to develop Russian-Chinese friendship at the sailing level.

Olga Efimova-Sokolova

115 Yesterday # 9676

Chief Editor

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