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LONG BEACH - The California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) sailing team is heading to China to compete against 13 Chinese college teams in the Pan-Pacific Intercollegiate Regatta.
The event will take place July 15-17 in Xiamen, China. The 2008 Olympic sailing competition was held Qingdao, China.
According to CSULB sailing president Shane Young, the five individuals making up the squad were selected from team members based on their level of experience. And, while the team usually practices on boats called Club FJs, for this regatta it will compete on the larger J/80, a fixed keel one-design sportsboat certified for offshore sailing and normally crewed by three to five people.
"We were chosen for this regatta because Long Beach has been a sister city with Qingdao, China, for about 30 years," said Young. "Mary Barton is the president of the Long Beach-Qingdao Association and she arranged this. She talked with me in the spring about the potential regatta we might be able to participate in and then we were asked to go over and represent the United States."
"The importance of China in our future cannot be overstated, and it is important to our young people's future that they have experience and good feelings about China and vice versa," Barton pointed out. "The CSULB sailing team's competition in Xiamen will touch many people's lives and help them all become friends and understand each other better. We are happy to help."
As team president, Young, a senior business marketing major from Long Beach, will be heading up the contingent of five.
"We're going to China for one reason," Young noted. "We're going there to win; that's our goal. We're going there with a certain amount of mental preparation and then after that there are so many factors affecting how you are going to sail on any given day. All we can do is our best.
"Being able to sail at different venues around the world is one of the coolest things," he added. "It will be so different than when we sail here locally, but we're all really looking forward to the experience."
Rounding out the team heading to China will be Mark Ryan, a junior history major from Long Beach; John Hill, a junior economics major from Burlington, Vt.; Nicholas Santos, a junior business finance major from Lomita; and Tyler Webb, a junior electrical engineering major from Los Angeles.
The sailing club, which is under the umbrella of the Club Sports and Recreation Program at CSULB, was successful in its early days but had been dormant for nearly two decades. It was given new life by Young and his brother Chase, who got the team reinstated in 2010.
"The waters off Long Beach are some of the best for sailing in the world," said Young. "It's a great sailing venue and we couldn't see any reason why there wasn't a sailing team at the university. That's why we wanted to bring the sport back."
In three short seasons the team has been successful, reaching the national semi-finals (2011) and capturing the Southern Conference this past spring competing against such teams as USC, UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego.
"I think the fact that we won the Southern Conference this year and have been fairly successful the past three years worked in our favor," Young explained. "I'm sure we'll be competitive."
When plans for the trip to China were set into motion, Young acknowledged the team had a lot to accomplish within a short time period, including lots of training.
"It's going to be a lot of hard work, but I know we're up to it," he said. "We're going to have fun and enjoy the whole experience."
Young credits Steve Flam, a part-time coach for the team and CSULB alumni who participated on the university sailing team in the 1980s, with assisting at some of the regattas and practices the last couple of years, and in helping the team grow to where it is today.
"There is absolute camaraderie in the group, which is important. Everybody is committed and they have a really strong bond," said Flam. "It's pretty tricky sailing over there, but I think they are going to do really well. The biggest thing will probably be the cultural difference. It's not like going to Canada."
The team will also get assistance from founder and chairman of the U.S.-China Yachting Association Eliot Clauss, who along with additional contacts will help prepare the CSULB team.
"This is going to be Cal State Long Beach's first international regatta ever," said Young. "I imagine there will be a bit of culture shock. During the race you depend on some kind of dialogue with the other boats, so it's going to be interesting how we will communicate with them while we are racing."
Published: July 11, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 13