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100 days to Rio, are there potholes and bumps ahead?

28/04/2016

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 28 Apr 2016
 


100 days to Rio, are there potholes and bumps ahead?

The Christ Redeemer statue, left, overlooks Guanabara bay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Rio 2016 Olympics  
The Road to Rio 2016 still has a few curves, bumps and potholes for teams battling to win in Hyeres, at some World championship events and Weymouth World Cup but for most crews:

'It's 106 miles to Chicago we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses. Whoops wrong movie.

Here in Hyeres, the second last World Cup event in this quadrennial, is set to be a heavy wind, flat water regatta, totally different conditions to any likely to be experienced in Rio. With the Mistral wind blowing at 25-30 knots at Practice Race time, the various course race officers were absolutely short of clients today. Solid winds are expected for much of the week, peaking mid-afternoon and post medal race winds on Sunday could hit 35-40 knots, so we won't be surprised to see races starting early during this week.

We arrive here well ahead of the regatta, to conduct in depth interviews with many of the Rio contenders and will releasing those over the coming weeks.

Across the classes, there is general agreement that the Rio venue is one of the most challenging on the world stage with tidal water flow differences of up to four knots on the Guanabara Bay courses and the offshore courses will often throw up two metre swells with wind variances of ten knots between top and bottom of the waves.

Some of the sailors have made over a dozen trips to Rio and no one has seen any improvement in the lamentably polluted waters. One sailor sadly commented today, there is one small benefit of the bay debris, 'it makes the reading of tidelines made easier.

Burling and Tuke  © World Sailing

In some classes, clear Rio Gold Medal favourites are emerging. Burling and Tuke in the 49er Men's, Belchers and Ryan in 470Men's, Besson and Riou in the Nacra 17's, Giles Scott (GBR) in Finns are close to odds on but the competition is much more even in the 470 Women's, 49er FX, Lasers, Laser Radials, RS:X Women's and RS:X Men's.

There is some consensus on the top groups but it's much more like that there will be podium surprises.

Outteridge and Jensen 49er European Championship 2016   © Beau Outteridge

The Kiwis Peter Burling and Blair Tuke are expected to continue their rock solid run here in Hyeres. London Gold medallists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are back in Bermuda, but if anyone can beat the Kiwi's its likely have to be their Aussie rivals. Bet against New Zealand. Not bloody likely.

Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO) - 2016 470 European Championship  © Jesus Renedo

Sime Fantela and Egor Marenic, the Croatian 470 Men's duo are the closest things Belcher and Ryan have to a nemesis, this week they will be seeking to shake the unshakeable confidence of yet another Victor Kovalenko coached 470 crew expected to win Gold.

Back in 2000 the Ukrainian super coach, with the thickest of thick Ukrainian accents, which to this scribe was Russian patiently explained that World Domination was the key to Olympic Gold.

Enter Stage Right Belcher and Ryan.

Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves, the British Nacra Team believe Besson and Riou are not Rio shoe-in's, as they remind us in an interview today, twice this season.

Jason Waterhouse (NSW) and Lisa Darmanin (NSW)  © Laurens Morel

They have been bested. (Get the pun, sorry yes its very subtle) Tomorrow we will be talking to Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin (AUS) who similar believe it will not be a French Cake-walk.

Giles Scott, the affable British Finn class superstar is not here in Hyeres, we suspect he sees no point in future exposing his winning technique to further class examination.

Laser Radial World Champion Alison Young will be in Hyeres World Cup action this week  onEdition ©

Alison Young, the lanky British Civil Engineer, fresh from her World Championship win in Mexico was immensely serious when we talked to her a few days, while another British Laser World Champion Nick Thompson took the time to remind us, during a length interview that in his 12 or 13 visits to Rio he has twice been bedridden for two days with diarrhoea and vomiting.

Tom Burton in action  © Getty Images

Today we talked to the King of Hyeres, the three times Laser World Cup winner Tom Burton, World Ranked number one and Rio test event winner, who also felt Rio pollution could throw a spanner in the works at a whole range of levels and reminded us that Rio with four knot tidal differences is likely to be a very high scoring regatta and 'anything could happen in Rio'

In other words, 100 days down the tarmac on the road to Rio, the Fat Lady is still on vacation and is not expected in Marina Gloria until mid-August with a repeat visit at the end of the second week.

Watch out for our Hyeres interview series as the weeks and months count down from 100 to August 8th 2016


Rob Kothe, Sail-World.com & YachtsandYachting.com



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