Sailing’s Road to Rio

The 2016 Olympic Sailing regatta will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Aug 8-18th August 2016, so it’s less than 120 weeks until the Olympic action starts on Guanabara Bay.

This is the first Olympic class newsletter from Sail-World.com who has had the largest sailing media presence at the Beijing and London Olympics and is once again covering the Olympic class campaigns in detail.

The focus for both countries and sailors this year will be the 2014 ISAF World Championships on the Bay of Biscay, Santander Spain, in Sept 8-21st. It is the principal country Olympic qualifying event, at which some 50% of the slots for countries will be decided across the 10 Olympic classes.

So this is a do or die year for many countries wanting to see their sailors amongst the 395 competing in Rio in 2016.

2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca - 470 Men medal race

The action is heating up, the ISAF Sailing World Cup event in Palma Mallorca a few weeks ago welcomed a record 1100 + sailors across the Olympic and One Paralympic classes.

This week its the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères on the French Riviera, It is the sixth and final regatta included in the 2013-2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup series.

After that the EUROSAF Champions Sailing Cup series, four important EUROSAF events, Garda Olympic Week 8-12 May, 2014 Delta Lloyd Regatta in Medemblik, Holland 20-24th May, followed closely by the EUROSAF Sail for Gold on the Weymouth GBR Olympic courses June 1-6th and EUROSAF Keiler Woche 21st-29th June. The European championships for most classes in June and July also.

Important for all these event is that over the last year a radical change to the Olympic regatta scoring came and went, after serious pushback from sailors squelched the flirtation with three days of qualifiers reduced to one race score, an experiment that ran for a number of the world cup events in 2012-2013 but disappeared by the Qingdao event and so that too will disappear from the EUROSAF events.

49er fleet, 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca day 2
© Ocean Images

Still under discussion is the three sprint race series instead of the double point medal race for the 49ers and finality on that format will be required very soon. At the last two ISAF Sailing World Cup regattas, at the request of the class, the skiff fleets sailed three ten minute single point races on the final day whilst the other eight classes sailed the ‘standard’ 20 minute Medal Race. In early May, the format for those classes will be locked in for Rio 2016.

The finally decided scoring and medal rounds arrangements will be in place for Aquece Rio the first of two 'Test Events' for the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing regatta across the ten Olympic sailing events from 2 to 9 August 2014. Each ISAF Member National Authority (MNA) is entitled to enter two boats in each event so most of the leading Olympic contenders will be at that regatta.

The regatta venue is the Marina da Glória with racing taking place inside and outside the Guanabara Bay. This event will bring the venue into focus, with more news on water quality than perhaps on the weather.

Measurement of water quality in Rio's Guanabara Bay

Responding to our direct questions about the water quality in Rio de Janeiro, specifically at the 2016 Olympic sailing venues, the communications department for the Rio Secretary of the Environment in Rio de Janeiro provided figures that showed that 800,000 tonnes a day of untreated effluent is currently going into the waterways. If there is no increase in volume over between now and the Games, that figure should reduce to 500,000 tonnes a day, with the Brazilian authorities best efforts.

It’s a serious problem and unfortunately Rio cannot call on 30,000 fishing boats to clean up, Qingdao’s approach to its algae issue in 2008.

Back to sailing, by the time this year’s Test Event rolls around there should be a good sense of who is who in the zoo.

The Laser World Championships 2013 - Standard. Mussanah Oman The final day of racing, Robert Scheidt (BRA) shown here celebrating after winning the championships Oman.Credit: Lloyd Images.

While ISAF rankings can often be misleading early in the Olympic cycle, by August they will in most cases reflect the likely state of play, for instance Laser sailor Robert Scheidt, who in Oman last year won his ninth Laser World champion has jumped from 18th to sixth after Palma, still with a 92nd in Garda 2013 to wash out of the points table and so he will climb closer to the top.

ISAF Sailing World Cup, Melbourne Day 5 Outteridge and Jensen (49er)

There will be exceptions of course, amongst those notables still to start seriously campaigning Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen have only sailed two 49er regatta since 2012, fifth at the 2013 Worlds just a few weeks after the end of America’s Cup and winning at ISAF Sailing World Cup in Melbourne. They are back in the fleet here in Hyeres and it will be interesting to watch them de-rusting.

Going forward you can expect to see one of our Sail-World Road to Rio newsletters every six weeks or so, with a flurry around Santander and then steadily again thru 2015 and onwards.

Boat Park, 20th April - ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres 2014

Today we are in Hyeres, on an overcast day, with measurement and registration continuing for the 1100 or so sailors in around 800 teams. In the very soft conditions there are some boats out on the Bay, but most teams are resting ahead of this important week.

Right now here are some key stories from the last six months.