The Olympics - Weymouth, England 2012
Yesterday I took the Can Opener down to see the Olympics, pinnacle of dinghy racing glory and excellence.
The First Mate was beyond excited and even I admit to a tiny frisson of sailing electricity running down my tail at the thought of witnessing true greatness at such close quarters.
The First Mate came the first time I whistled, he loaded up the oyster tin trolley (sustenance for the long day ahead) and dutifully hoisted me onto his shoulder as usual so I could steer him by the ears.
We made the mighty train trek down to the southern shore in record time. Some spritely folk in our carriage had decked themselves out in Union Jacks and a few other assorted flags. We were not alone in our buoyant high spirits.
The viewing area at Weymouth slopes gently down to the water which rings a perfect arc as an undulating stage before the crowd. Felt like you could almost touch the windward mark from where we sat. Brilliant.
They say sailing is not a spectator sport and that may be true. But they have done really everything imaginable to make it more accessible and as riveting as possible.
Every dinghy was rigged with its own camera focused on the action in the cockpit. Two helicopters filmed from above and roving camera arms filmed from our hill. All of this was relayed back to giant screens around the crowd to make the action even more immediate.
Regattas are now designed to lead in to a 'medal round' with a clear visually-appealing last race. No more 'best 6 out of 7 races' where the winner is triumphantly (though anti-climatically) announced after some math calcs in a back room.
Even the racing courses have been redesigned so that the final stretch to the finish is a mini-reach, emphasizing boats' finishing positions like horses at the racetrack.
And you gotta love the 'flags for spinnaker' designs for the boats this year (as in the lead picture above). Absolutely gorgeous!
We were lucky enough to see three medal round races yesterday. China won the women's laser radial, and Australia won the men's laser and 49er classes after some very intense competition.
Was it a great Olympic day? Absolutely! Whoo-hoo! You bet!
Have you been watching the Sailing Olympics? Favourite class? Best race? Best moment? What did you think?
(transcribed by the Can Opener)