More Chinese parents sending children for sailing lessons

More Chinese parents sending children for sailing lessons
Children undergo training at a two-month-long summer camp at the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center.

The promotion of a sailing culture among China's younger generation is in full flow.

Li Jun, 43, a veteran yachtsman and coach at the Qingdao Flying Fish Sailing Club, leads summer camps for children at the city's Olympic Sailing Center. The club was founded by former members of China's national sailing team and the Shandong province team.

"We've run programs for adults in recent years, but this is the first time we've arranged them for children. The sport is becoming popular around here. We didn't do much to promote them, but to my surprise, things have gone very well," Li said.

Two monthlong "OP" classes - named after the "Optimist" dinghys specifically designed for use by children - started on July 10, with 15 youngsters attending each. The organizers have also arranged two- and 12-month training programs for children at different levels of proficiency.

"Our youngest student is just 6 and half years old. He's a quick learner and as capable as the others, who are mostly primary school students, with the oldest aged 13. I thought the courses would attract more boys than girls, but it's almost half and half."

Despite a fee of 3,000 yuan (S$605.17), parents were enthusiastic and quickly signed their children up for the courses.

"Parents now prefer their children to develop an outdoor hobby. Sailing is close to nature, full of upbeat spirit, and has a hint of fashion," Li said.

"Most importantly, sailing doesn't just foster children's physical strength and stamina - judging wind direction, reading the water and figuring out tides provides them with technical and intellectual nourishment."

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