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  • Sailing Begins Rio 2016 Campaign Without Hitches


    (ATR) With the eyes of the world pinned on Guanabara Bay, sailors and officials say the first day of sailing should be called a success.

    Sailing competitions underway in Rio (Getty Images)
    World Sailing CEO Andy Hunt told Around the Rings the day was “almost perfect,” a sentiment that sailors from the Finn, NACRA 17, and RS-X classes shared. Finn and NACRA racers were going through their final training runs, while RS-X windsurfers began competition today.

    “The sun came out and the beautiful backdrop of Rio was perfect; everything went to plan and we had really good feedback from the sailors,” Hunt said. “In the 30 days before we arrived, we’ve done two tests a day and had 100 percent of the water tests inside the WHO primary contact level. Even in the last 11 days, they’ve been absolutely that level.”

    Hunt said the only real improvements that could be made to the first day were the ease of transmitting data and the hope for immaculate weather.

    Storm clouds loomed over the sailing venue as the day wrapped up, but organizers did not fear the torrential rains that would lead to debris pooling in the bay. If such weather were to occur, the city has extra ecoboats ready to find debris, and contingency days planned if the courses are not suitable to race on.

    “They tell me it is polluted, but I haven’t picked up any infections,” Ioannis Mitakis, a Finn class sailor, said to ATR. “It looks dirty, but it is no problem. There has been some rubbish, but it is there for everybody. My coach always says ‘luck is with the good ones.’ Sailing is a lucky sport, but the best always win.”

    Mitakis, right, sailing in Rio last year (Getty Images)
    Mitakis, like every sailor interviewed by ATR, raved about the technical difficulty of the courses here in Rio de Janeiro. Fellow racer Caleb Paine, from the United States said he “doesn’t even think about” the pollution in Rio’s waters. He has been training in Rio for the past three years.

    He said he and his teammates carefully wash down all parts of their boat, gear, and bodies after each race. The ritual is twofold, it helps prevent any contamination, and it prevents salt buildup, which can slow boats down the next day.

    “The city’s beauty is really its main challenge,” Paine added. “They’ve done quite well with it, it is a cool venue, and will have great races.”

    Anette Viborg, one-half of Denmark’s NACRA-17 entry, said they encountered rubbish on the course in previous days, but even so the sailing was beautiful. Viborg and her partner Allan Norregaard hope to get some more practice runs in so counteract their limited training time in Rio.

    “When the current is good, the rubbish is not our problem,” Viborg added. “For us, the course is technically difficult, but the large waves outside bring a smile to our faces.”

    Pascual tackling the wind here in Rio (Getty Images)
    Two windsurfers - Mattia Camboni from Italy and Pedro Pascual from the United States - both said the wind on the bay brought excellent racing. They preferred to discuss the day’s actual events rather than speak about the water quality.

    Camboni said that he encountered a lot more rubbish yesterday. During racing, he believed only one sailor encountered a small plastic bag while competing.

    Pascual bristled at questions asking if he was adding extra routines or gear to prevent contact with the waters of Guanabara Bay. He said he and the team had not changed their routines in Rio and emphasized how exciting the racing had been on day one.

    The Rio 2016 sailing regatta will run until August 18.

    Written by Aaron Bauer at Marina da Gloria

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