Yangtze River Delta Regatta under full sail
Harnessing the wind and coursing through the water, more than 300 sailors from home and abroad raced on Dianshan Lake in Qingpu District over the weekend.
They shot out like arrows when the whistle went off, and deftly rigged their sailboats amid cheers in the first Yangtze River Delta Regatta (Shanghai leg).
Lasting two days, it attracted top athletes and world champions from home and abroad.
They competed in J80, OP and ILCA4 keeled sailboats. Most sailors are from the Yangtze River Delta region.
Jim Johnstone, from the United States, flew to Shanghai to compete in the event from Xiamen, east China's Fujian Province.
As a sailing instructor, he has been practising the sports for about 40 years.
He lived in Jinxi Ancient Town in Suzhou, neighboring Jiangsu Province, for one year, and was amazed by the rapid development of sailing in China.
"When I came here 14 years ago, it was new, and right now there are hundreds of teams," he said. "It has developed a lot. It's going definitely in the right direction, and that's good."
Liu Yuheng, 11, practises sailing on both Saturday and Sunday. He lives in Songjiang District.
"I love sailing and am never tired of it," he said. "I would like to attend more such events."
Sailing sports is flourishing in the Yangtze River Delta region, which has now gathered nearly 100 sailing clubs and nurtured over 10,000 sailing lovers, according to Liu Weidong, deputy chairperson and secretary-general of Chinese Yachting Association.
The event will lay a solid foundation for the future development of sailing in the region and even in China, Liu noted.
Shanghai's Qingpu District is a favorite spot for sailors. Located in the westernmost part of the city, it is dotted with many rivers and lakes, including the city's largest freshwater body, Dianshan Lake, where the race is held.
The delta region boasts rich river, lake and coastal resources and ideal natural environment, which are all preferential for the development of sailing sports, particularly for young amateurs such as the teenagers to start their primary training, Liu said.
"The regatta is a platform for all sailing lovers despite their level to get involved in the sports," he said. "Their pursuit is not only the score, but also a reunion with their friends, which makes it more like a warm gathering on water."
The competition is sponsored by Worldwide Logistics Group, a Shanghai-based logistics company. It took three months to organize.
"The competition is a grand sailing event as it gathers top sailors from around the world to compete here," said Xiong Xiong, leader of the male team of Shanghai Sailing Association. "We have nearly 30 boats in the competition."
"It is a very influential event," he said. "I am excited to race.
"Shanghai has many lovers of the sports and I believe the sports will draw more and more attention from the public and attract an increasing number of people to get involved.
"I hope the competition will promote sailing among the young generation, which is the expectation of all sailors."
High-quality sports integration in the Yangtze River Delta region is an important part of the delta's integrated development. It is of great significance to establish such a cross-area sailing sports platform to boost exchange among sports authorities and sports lovers and promote sailing sports, officials noted.