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Swapping a board for foils: Chinese Olympic windsurfer, Chen Peina, joins the Flying Phantom fleet in Qingdao

With a need for speed and adrenaline-pumping racing, Chen Peina – a Chinese RS:X silver medallist from the 2016 Rio Olympics – headed to the Qingdao Mazarin Cup powered by Extreme Sailing Series™ to try her hand at sailing a Flying Phantom.

Wednesday 3rd October 2018

We caught up with her to find out a bit about her background and what she thought of her Flying Phantom experience.

How did you get into windsurfing?

I trained a lot when I was young. Windsurfing has always been quite strong in China. Nowadays, more and more students are joining us on the water. Windsurfing is definitely gaining in popularity, as is sailing in China.

How did you find your Flying Phantom experience?

I’m not competing here at the Qingdao Mazarin Cup powered by Extreme Sailing Series – I’m just trying out the Flying Phantom for fun! It’s a new experience and it’s pretty interesting as I’m not usually on a boat.

Today the wind was strong enough to go foiling. Foiling’s really fun! At the beginning, I was actually a little bit scared but after I’d finished, I couldn’t stop smiling. It was a lot easier than windsurfing – windsurfing involves a lot of pumping the sail so it’s quite hard. That’s not to say that sailing the Flying Phantom is easy though. It takes two people to control the boat so it is tough!

The boat is really fast and changes a lot. You can be really stable and then you’ll get a gust and almost topple over or hit the water. It’s been really gusty this week so it’s been very difficult for the sailors. They’re managing the tricky Qingdao conditions really well. This city is a great place to sail.

What are your hopes for Chinese sailing?

Chinese sailing is growing in popularity and officials are doing a lot for the sport. I think that, in the future, we need to do more than just windsurfing though, and be credible in other forms of watersports. We need to be more experienced in other boats and in other Olympic classes.

There also needs to be more Chinese women in sailing. I think we’re getting there but it’s still not quite enough. At the moment, women are really only present in the Olympic windsurfing class but women need to be involved in sailing on other boats and other races.

To follow the racing on the final day of the Qingdao Mazarin Cup powered by Extreme Sailing Series, head to the Extreme Sailing Series Twitter.