Looking back on the Rio Olympics

Published on August 10th, 2020

Four years ago, Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck was in Brazil to report on the Rio 2016 Olympics. With the Tokyo 2020 Games postponed until 2021, we keep that Olympic Flame alive through Leweck’s observations from the Carioca nation… here was his sixth report:


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (August 11, 2016) – The sailing competition during the Olympic Games fits within a two week event – August 8 to 19 – a pretty long time for a regatta. But it’s not as long as it seems. All events have either 5 or 6 days of competition, with a couple of reserve days in between to keep each event on schedule.

Some events start in the beginning and finish early, while the racing for other events is at the back end of the schedule. The last events to start is the Men’s Skiff (49er) and Women’s Skiff (49erFX), a full five days later. In these two events, to win the Olympic Games, you first have to win the Waiting Game.

How do you win the Waiting Game? Here’s what I learned…

Katlin Tammiste, Estonia, 49erFX Helm:
At some point it does become hard to be waiting so long. You see all the activity in the boat park and you want to go out and compete too. I think if you balance your time during this delay, and stay away from the venue and do things that help you stay calm, then this wait we have is manageable.

This is where top athletes can utilize their good preparation and mental skills to keep calm in this kind of condition. We are staying in the village and our focus is to relax. No sightseeing or spectating, just working to stay calm. However, once our competition is complete, we definitely plan to watch some of the Olympic events.

Nathan Outteridge, Australia, 49er Helm:
The 49er was toward the beginning in China 2008, more in the middle in London 2012, and now at the very end in Rio 2016. The hardest part this week is not being able to use the race course when you want to, as the Bay and the facilities now have restrictions. But we anticipated this and arrived early in July – about five weeks ago.

We did quite a bit of training through July, and then we took about a 10 day break and got away, but got back in time before racing began Monday so we could do some more training. We knew once racing started, it would more or less be the end of our training.

The restrictions state we can go on any course circle that is not being used. However, they don’t want classes not racing to be clogging the ramp, so our launch time for training gets delayed. As a result, we are not getting on the Bay until 2:30pm at the earliest. With the days so short here, it doesn’t leave much time. Plus, the circles available aren’t going to be those we will be using anyway.

With the extra time, I haven’t attended any events but I did go to the Opening Ceremonies. That’s been one of the benefits of starting late, being able to enjoy that night and have plenty of time to recover.

Willie McBride, USA, 49erFX Coach:
By the time racing starts, the girls will have been here for two weeks. That’s a lot of time to ponder their fate but we have worked hard to make the time productive. We have been on the water as much as we could, but at the same time conscious that we are saving enough energy so that we are firing on all cylinders when racing starts.

There are a couple big factors to consider, but likely the biggest is making sure that when they are not on the water, and perhaps in the Olympic Village or elsewhere, that they are having fun and keeping their minds active while their bodies can rest. It is easy to get anxious when spending time around the sailing venue. There is a lot going on, what with all the media and the other classes already competing. Avoiding any drama is key. We are on social media blackout which helps, so our focus is to do things that keep the emotional state stable and staying relaxed.

We have known about the sailing schedule well in advance, so we are operating with a plan that we had put in place some time ago. No worries here.

Event detailsResultsPhotos

Racing was staggered among the 10 events from August 8 to 19.

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