|Recently, Mr. Mark Whitehead, Commodore of Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, had written on HKTDC life & style on Hong Kong Sailing. Mentioned in his article, “With more than 200 outlying islands to explore, excellent sailing conditions for much of the year and a climate that beckons an outdoor lifestyle, Hong Kong is a haven for water sports enthusiasts.”1
We fully agree with Mr. Whitehead’s view and believe that sailing can become more popular. Some people have a misconception that sailing is only a rich man’s sport; however, in fact, a dinghy or small sailing boat may not cost more than a motorbike or small car. By encouraging public participation, the sport can become popular to drive development in related facilities and trainings, making it become very affordable. In fact, The Hong Kong Sailing Federation has been actively promoting sailing sports by offering various levels of dinghy training in Hong Kong in 16 Recognized Teaching Centres2. While The Sail Training Association of Hong Kong has been providing sailing experience to the public through two LCSD subvented programmes, "Youth Sailing Programme" and "Advanced Sailing Programme".3 The association also recruits talented youth (aged 8 to 15) to join their Optimist Squad Team, providing athletes adequate training for overseas competitions.
With extensive coastline and many protected bays along it, Hong Kong has sufficient resources and reasons to make sailing sports popular, breaking the misconception of the appealingly privileged-only game. Perhaps, what Hong Kong need is an iconic Sailing Academy, properly equipped and staffed to nurture young athletes to international level. Public exposure and recognition is the key to attract new comers and subsequently become hooked to the sports.
It is not simply the sport itself when considering sailing’s supporting industry ranging from boat manufacturing, sales and maintenance to services like sailor trainings, sailing clubs and race organisers. Apart from new joiners, spectators are also resources to popularise sailing. We can take Hong Kong Sevens as an example, one of the most successful annual sports events in Hong Kong. Tourists are brought from all over the world benefiting Hong Kong with about 300 million Hong Kong Dollars of direct economic income4.
In sailing, the Volvo Ocean Race and Clipper Round the World are of even higher magnitude. However, Hong Kong without proper facilities cannot become a stopover like Singapore, Qingdao and Hainan Sanya. International regatta events not only brings about economic benefit but also resources, public participation, sponsorships and better local facilities.
We are glad to know that HKSAR Government has set its policy in the promotion of sports and recreation, let’s look forward to having another World championship in sailing just like Lee Lai Shan! Enjoy the festive joy brought to the city by the sailing industry, check out the dates of upcoming races and have fun with your family and friends!
1. Smooth Sailing All the Way