Please select your home edition
Edition
Bakewell-White Yacht Design

London Olympics 2012 - Perfidious Albion up close

by Mark Chisnell on 10 Aug 2012
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) lead the 49er class racing in front of a big crowd on the Nothe course. © Richard Gladwell www.richardgladwell.com
The Nothe Course (aka Perfidious Albion) is the... ahem, difficult venue for the Olympic Medal Races, and today I got to see it up close for the first time. The idea was to live blog the 470 Men's medal race from there, to add some live colour and atmosphere to the normal data-fed information. Unfortunately, this was the first day of the Olympics where the breeze failed to show and there was no racing at all.

I've already had my two cents worth on the racing aspect of the Nothe, and I was hoping to be able to comment more fully on the spectator side of the deal. But I can't really tell you what it's like to watch from the Nothe, save for a few general points. First up, this is a fantastic site for watching sailboat races. The height is probably the most important thing, it means that you can see the whole race course set out below you - and presumably, get a much better idea of position and strategy than you could from sea level.

The Nothe is just the right elevation to ensure everyone has a view, and the grass makes for a very comfortable perch. It even flattens off towards the back of the site, leaving plenty of space for all the amenities required for a day out - bars, food concessions and toilets. It's also extremely easy to reach from central Weymouth, literally a short hike up some steps, or via a gentler but longer road route. It's hard to imagine a better spot geographically.

Secondly, the organisers have done a great job of laying out the site. At one end of the hill is a big screen, so while the racing is right out in front of you, a quick glance to the left gives you a view of camera close-ups, tracker images or whatever else the commentators need to help explain the action. It also means that during the warm-up, or whenever there is a lull in the sailing, the crowd are happily entertained with videos explaining the sport, or competition from any one of the other Olympic venues.

Down to one side of the screen is a stage for the announcing and commentary team to do interviews - on the day that we were there, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen brought along their 49er gold medals for the crowd to see. It's hard to get much closer to an Olympic medal unless you know someone who's got one.


There's no doubt in my mind that this venue and the way it's been utilised will set a new standard for spectator sailing. And yes, I think people have been right to conclude as a result that sailing can be a spectator sport - but a word of warning.

This is a perfect storm of conditions - it's not just the perfect venue, but we need to remember that this is the Olympics. The prize is the same for Usain Bolt and Ben Ainslie, and that gives this competition in Weymouth a legitimacy available to no other sailing event. The IOC go to a lot of trouble to maintain the mythos around this contest - it's what the torch route, the Opening Ceremony, the cauldron and flame, the four year cycle, the medal ceremonies, and even the venues cleared of any advertising help to promulgate.


Our belief that this competition matters beyond all others is not cheap to create or maintain - and there is nothing else, save perhaps the America's Cup, that has the anything like the ability of the Olympics to attract the attention of the uninitiated. People come to watch because it's the Olympics, not necessarily because it's sailing - so let's not get too carried away.

Barz Optics - Melanin LensesZhik Dinghy 660x82Schaefer 2016 Ratchet Block 660x82

Related Articles

Gladwell's Line - Does the America's Cup really need a Star Chamber?
The first meeting of the three-man America's Cup Arbitration Panel is believed to have taken place in London The first meeting of the three-man America's Cup Arbitration Panel is believed to have taken place in London in the past week or so. Officially the date hasn't been publicly announced. The venue hasn't been publicly named, and the parties have appeared before a Panel that is publicly nameless.
Posted on 23 Jul
America's Cup - Glenn Ashby on Emirates Team NZ's road to Bermuda
Part 2 of the interview with Emirates Team NZ skipper Glenn Ashby. In this part of the interview we look at what is going to happen once Emirates Team NZ get their 'AC49.5' sailing in Auckland, and how the campaign may shape up before they leave for Bermuda. Ashby wouldn’t be drawn on whether Team New Zealand had started their AC50 build, with July being the usual start of what is usually a five-month build and commissioning period for an end of December launch.
Posted on 10 Jul
America's Cup - Glenn Ashby on Emirates Team NZ's new AC49.5
Sail-World talks with Emirates Team NZ skipper, Glenn Ashby on what is different about the team's new test boat Just under 11 months out from the 35th America’s Cup, Team New Zealand does not seem to be in its customary place at the front of the starting grid to be the first to launch their Challenger, or are they? Although they will be one of the last of the six teams to launch an AC45 Surrogate, Emirates Team New Zealand may have stolen a march with a boat that is as close as you can get to an AC50.
Posted on 9 Jul
Gladwell's Line - Emirates Team NZ launches shadow AC50
Emirates Team NZ took a late but significant step along the road to the 35th America's Cup, with the launch of their AC4 Emirates Team NZ took a late but significant step along the road to the 35th America's Cup, with the launch of their AC45S - as the test boats are called in the Protocol which governs the 2017 event. The bloated Protocol, which now runs to 83 pages of legalese, is restrictive on the size of boat that can be built as a test platform but doesn't restrict the number that can be built.
Posted on 22 Jun
Platino recovery - Family confirms that tug has made rendezvous
Reports in social media say a salvage tug has made a rendezvous with the Platino earlier than expected. Reports in social media by family and friends of Nick Saull, the crew member killed during a catastrophic incident abroad the 66ft yacht Platino say the salvage tug which left on Tuesday night has made the rendezvous earlier than expected. The Facebook report says the tug, Sea Pelican, arrived on Friday morning, the weather in the area has eased and with a more favorable outlook.
Posted on 16 Jun
Rio 2016 - Double Olympic medallist on the delights of Guanabara Bay
Olympic Gold and Bronze medallist Bruce Kendall updates on the 2016 Olympic venue at Guanabara Bay. Olympic Gold and Bronze medallist, and now a windsurfer coach, Bruce Kendall has made several trips to the 2016 Olympic venue at Guanabara Bay. He updates on the pollution issue which is clearly not going to be resolved in a couple of months, and also shares his views on the venue from a sailing competition perspective.
Posted on 14 Jun
America's Cup - Artemis win Chicago as Team Japan wins two races
Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series got three races away on Super Sunday. After losing the first official day of racing due to light winds and the non-arrival of the onshore breeze, Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series got three races away on Super Sunday. From a racing perspective this was probably the best day of racing yet in the series which counts for points in the Qualifying Series of the America's Cup in 11 months time.
Posted on 12 Jun
America's Cup - Emirates TNZ NZ and Oracle capsize in Chicago Practice
Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA capsized in Practice Racing at the Louis Vuitton ACWS Chicago There was action aplenty on Practice Day at Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Chicago, after Emirates Team New Zealand capsized in their match with Oracle Team USA, and then Oracle Team USA capsized later in the day. Team NZ's skipper skipper Glenn Ashby performed some impressive acrobatics ejecting from the AC45 capsize, without injury.
Posted on 11 Jun
America's Cup - Changes proposed to control future Cup options
Changes are being mooted to put the America's Cup on a longer-term footing according to the Daily Telegraph (UK) News that changes are being mooted to put the America's Cup on a longer-term footing is being floated in the Daily Telegraph (UK) by the British Challenger, Land Rover BAR. According to the Telegraph, some of the teams in the 2017 America's Cup are keen to lock-in parameters which would bind successive holders of the a style and frequency for the next America's Cup Match.
Posted on 8 Jun
America's Cup - AC50 construction uncovered - Part 2 - Wings and Costs
Second part of a two-part series looking at the AC50 construction progress at Core Builders Composites Second part of a two-part series looking at the construction progress at Core Builders Composites, and features of the AC50 class which will be used in the 35th America's Cup in Bermuda. Tim Smyth takes us on a tour of the CBC facility in Warkworth, and hour's drive north of Auckland. Where several AC50's, components and wingsails are under construction or have already been shipped to the teams.
Posted on 5 Jun