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