In early July, algae at the 2008 Olympic sailing venue in Qingdao made headlines. The Associated Press reported that 20,000 people either volunteered or were ordered to help clean up the mess - hauling it out by hand and boat with a clean-up deadline of July 15.
While the Chinese have gotten the algae problem under control, sailors face another impediment to navigation. Fog. Pea-soup, can't-see-the-bow-from-the-stern fog.
Sailors are using handheld GPS units to find their way in the fog if they're on the water. But if they're on land, they're also using a more traditional talisman (taliswoman) to gauge if they should be out in the fog in the first place.
"There is a giant golden statue of Mazu, traditional godmother of Chinese fishermen that marks the outer limit of the Olympic harbor," reports 2004 Olympic silver medalist Charlie Ogletree on his sailing team's Web site, t-squaredracing.com. At the Olympics, Ogletree and John Lovell will race Advanced Equities I, the name of their Tornado Class catamaran, for the T-Squared Racing Team.
"These days Mazu serves another purpose," writes Ogletree. "She's a guide to fog density. Sailors stay ashore if they can't see Mazu from the nearby shoreline."
In photos, the statue looks Statue-of-Liberty-sized. If only she held a foghorn in her golden hands.
(Photo credit: Charlie Ogletree, Team Advanced Equities I, T-Squared Racing)
Peggy Shinn is a freelance contributor for teamusa.org. This blog was not subject to the approval of the United States Olympic Committee or any National Governing Bodies.