In a game of Beijing word association, “landlocked” will certainly make an appearance before “wet.” However, as the home of China’s largest and most active outdoor community, Beijingers are always interested to try new sports, including those that take them onto or around the water. The local sailing community participates regularly in their chosen passion, and probably much closer to the city center than might be expected.
Beijing Sailing Center
For purists who insist that sailing should be, like, on a real sea or something, located 90 minutes from Beijing by train, the Beijing Sailing Center is actually based in Qinhuangdao. Close enough.
Beijing Sailing Center provides a range of dinghy sailing boats to suit all abilities and age groups, from Optimists for kids’ fun, Topper Topaz for adult learners, through to the Topper Omega for spinnaker and traipsing experience.
Qualified English and Chinese-speaking instructors offer weekend courses for those wanting to gain experience (RMB 1,800), along with one-hour Sailing Experience programs, a gentle introduction to dinghy sailing and the features of each sailing boat. Beijing Sailing Center also organizes and participates in regattas both in Qinhuangdao and other areas of China. Travel to regular international sailing events, including exotic destinations like the Maldives and Thailand, is also available during winter months. Open May through October.
Suite 1401, Yufei Plaza, 42 Dongzhimen Outer Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing (400 1800 107)
Beidaihe Sailing Center, Huamao Weilan Beach Beidaihe New Area (used to be Nandaihe), Qinhuangdao, Hebei
Aofan Sailing Club
Host to the rowing and canoeing events at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, this refurbished venue is home to Aofan Sailing Club, a professional sailing organization aimed at “promoting and encouraging the sport of sailing in China, whilst providing the perfect environment to share the experience with friends and family.” The name “Aofan” is a combination of the Mandarin Chinese words for “Olympics” (aoyunhui) and “sail” (fan).
Four types of boats are available for rent: the Optimist, a small boat ideal for ages six to 14; the Far East 11, a one-person boat; the OMEGA Monomer, and the WATA Catamaran, which hold four and five to six people, respectively, including an instructor.
A variety of courses and memberships are available for individuals as well as families. Sailboats can be rented by the hour or day (ranging from RMB 200 per hour and up to RMB 600 and beyond per day), while memberships (ranging from RMB 5,000-8,000 for a family, plus certification training) are valid for the entire season. Memberships are the most economical once you’ve given sailing a try and decided you enjoy the ride. Aofan also organizes trips to sail in other parts of China, including Qingdao. Open March to November, Monday through Sunday.
Olympic Water Park, 19 Baima Lu, Shunyi District (5949 4599)
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Photo: Beijing Sailing Centre
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