These are the last days before the Games. The opening cerimony, specially for those who never took part in the Games, is a catarthic moment. From now on there is no real training anymore, it is like the calm prior to the storm at sea, and only those who can relax, regenarate and come fully loaded and focused, those who know how to maange all the emotions and cotrol the mind will have the chance to raise for one day among the gods. It all started in ancient Greece …in the esplanade of Olimpia.
Yesterday I went to the marina, workers recupering the destroyed launching ramp, sail graphics….not yet arrived in Rio and to be glued on by volunteers. That is kimd of like looking for troubles as graphics required great skill to be glued on sails without hindering performance. My rib pinched through with a screwdriver, all in all I felt not happy at all as me and my athletes we have being working for four years every day thinking of the Games and this kimd of crazy set up is starting to increase the tension of everybody, but then… we went sailing and Rio was at his best, twenty knots out of Niteroi, huge waves, the islands, the icredible colors, the vegetation, the Finns planing downwind in a brutal free pumping contest. Josh junior on fire. I knew why I was there, why I have devoted my life to sailing first as an athlete and now as a coach. Mixed feeling surging, on one hand a sense of strenght, peace and happyness, on the other hand in Rio the tension is building up.
The sea teached me to forget the troubles I was facing ashore and Rio was as magic and beautiful as you can dream of. It would be even better that the graphics dont show up, a man, his boat, his national insigna and the Olympic battle for the dream, the dream of surging up to the level of the gods just for one moment, to then, stepped down from the podium find out that nothing has changed and start the battle with yourself to find again a stable place to base yourself upon. Sailing is a way of life, the Olympics the ultimate challenge.
Yesterday at the skipper meeting we got informed that a professional team will be hired to glue the graphics, so all in all it is not that bad.
In Olympic history a lot came in with high hopes and never got rewarded, like Lasse Hjortnaes, and some got in and had unexpected wins like Mateusz Kusznierewicz in Savannah. Some, like Schumann and Mankin, had more medals at the Games than at Worlds. Some, after finishing fourth twice like Stuart Childerly left the sport, and Hans Spitazuer after finishing fourth never raced well again. Sail Gods remembers big decepcion like Dean Barker or triple Laser World Champion Glenn Bourke not sailing well Finn in Savannah. The italians Giorgio Zuccoli, Roberto Benamati and Chieffi brothers also lost their olympic chance. Others, like Fabio Albarelli, came back home with a surprising medal.
The Olympics are a funny beast, and as it is all in the mind, and it requires a magic week to catch a medal I can only hope that my pupils, that worked as hard as they possibly could, will put it together and so Vasilij Zbogar, Szombor Berecz, Alejandro Foglia, Facundo Olezza and others. I will be there blowing in their sails and doing what I can to help out. The job is done, now it is the time to enjoy and be silent, the Games are coming in just a few days…
Life inside the Olympic Marina. At the momet all is quite realxed, sailors are scattered around and working on their boats. There is lot of peace, a small sailors lounge with soft drinks, water and fruit, a restaurant opened from 11 to 13 and from 16 to 18, plenty of space as the Marina is huge. We are not in allocated spaces, there is a ordered anarchic semi caos, but everything is ok. Workers are repairing the ramp, that will be ready by friday. Once out if the breeze is on Rio is magic, surely the waters are dirty but less plastic is floating around and not anyone really has got anything from sailing here to my knowledge. I would not advise drinking the waters but all in all it is not as bad as depicted. Zika is like a urban mith, as I have not seen a mosquito since i am here, as they must have killed them all. Torben Grael has sailed here all his life and is still healthy. Outside the bay, when wind is on it is like sailing in paradise: waves, breeze and a scenario second to none. We really are in the hands of the gods if the wind, if we are lucky and get some breezy day, Rio will make for one of the top olympic in history.
Photo gallery by Sailing Energy (Jesus Renedo and Pedro Martinez)/World Sailing