Tokyo 2020: Preparing for the weather
Published on July 1st, 2021
Competitors in the Olympic sailing events may have to contend with everything from typhoons to sweltering temperatures and humidity when competition gets underway on July 25 at the Enoshima Yacht Harbour, some 50km south-west of Tokyo.
The Games take place in the middle of Japan’s tropical summer and typhoon season, with daytime temperatures regularly reaching the high 30s celsius, and a pre-Olympic event in August 2019 saw the mercury rise to over 40°C (104°F).
Typhoons bring with them high winds that can lead to choppy seas for days afterwards, which could make sailing conditions tough in the chase for Olympic medals.
Relative humidity is also a factor, rising to over 70% on some days and making conditions uncomfortable for competitors and officials alike. Some countries such as Norway have built special facilities to prepare their athletes for what awaits.
“Our Olympic committee has built a climate room, as they call it, where we do exercises inside and we have the kind of temperature and humidity, the same that we can expect in Tokyo,” explained Norwegian Helene Naess, who will compete in Tokyo with team mate Marie Ronningen in the Women’s Skiff event.
“It’s to prepare your body for the heat and to see how much water you lose, and how much you have to rehydrate after a session.”
Having taken part in the 2019 pre-Olympic race, the Norwegians know what’s in store for them.
“We’re also arriving almost two and a half weeks before the event starts, so our bodies will be more used to the heat,” Ronningen said. “Some days can be really long in the water and some days are really short. You need to make sure you have the right food and the right drinks to help you cook down if you need it. That’s very important.”
With 10 sailing gold medals up for grabs and the possibility of changeable weather throughout, competitors will have to prove that they can adapt quickly if they are to make the podium.
“I think it depends on who you are – some people react differently to others, and last time we didn’t react too badly,” said Ronningen of the 2019 event in which she and Naess took the sliver medal. “If you’re well-prepared, it (the weather) won’t be a disadvantage for you.”
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Program
Men’s One Person Dinghy – ILCA 7
Women’s One Person Dinghy – ILCA 6
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Women’s Skiff – 49erFx
Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy – Finn
Men’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Women’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17
Original dates: July 24 to August 9, 2020
Revised dates: July 23 to August 8, 2021