Rio: the sailors’ tales

Our man in brazil, andy rice, un­cov­ers the per­sonal sto­ries be­hind the medal tri­umphs of sail­ing’s 2016 olympics

Yachting World - - Comment -

Rio pro­vided the tough­est test of sail­ing we have ever seen in the mod­ern Olympics. Not only was ev­ery race­course dif­fer­ent ev­ery day, it was a case of ‘the weather isn’t nor­mally like this’ for an en­tire re­gatta. In Athens 2004, Brazil­ian Tor­ben Grael won Gold in the Star class at a can­ter, lead­ing a dis­ap­pointed Iain

Percy (GBR) to con­clude that the Rio sailor had a sixth sense. “Tor­ben sees wind that no one else sees,” Percy said at the time. Af­ter wit­ness­ing the sail­ing on Grael’s home wa­ters of Gua­n­abara Bay, we now un­der­stand why he was so good, win­ning five Olympic medals in his ca­reer.

At the start of Rio, Ian Walker, a com­men­ta­tor for the BBC, said he was pleased he’d won his two medals in a time be­fore the rac­ing was con­tested so close to the shore. The win­ner of last year’s Volvo Ocean Race earned a 470 Sil­ver for Great Bri­tain at At­lanta 1996 on a course a cou­ple of miles off­shore from Sa­van­nah. He won an­other Sil­ver in the Star in 2000, rac­ing within Syd­ney Har­bour.

That was the first time rac­ing was held close to the shore. It’s edged closer and closer ever since to tick the boxes de­manded by the In­ter­na­tional Olympic

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