I have always enjoyed sailing in Weymouth – or Portland to be exact, and the last 10 days have shown just why this site was chosen to host the Olympic Sailing competition. Why? Well for starters, it offers some of the best sailing waters for racing. There’s plenty of space, and plenty of options without the crowds of boats which fill up that much more famous British sailing area, the Solent – some 100 miles to the east.
The Olympic sailing centre itself is on the island of Portland – which is attached to the mainland by a long causeway. A huge dinghy park, plenty of parking and slipway space is a legacy of the site’s former life as a naval base. Another naval legacy is Portland harbour itself, which is one of the largest man-made harbours in the world, providing a sheltered race area with flatter waters and generally lighter winds.
Outside you have Weymouth Bay, which has space for huge, multiple fleets, making it a popular championship venue. On “Thrilling Thursday” we saw conditions in the Bay at their best; the breeze was18-20 knots with plenty of gusts to spice things up, the waves were ripe for surfing, and the sun even came out to watch the fabulous display of Olympic sailing.
And then there’s the Nothe, the shoreside viewing area overlooking the course used for the match racing and medal races. This has delivered a heightened atmosphere for all the racing that’s taken place there – and it’s not just the Brits getting the cheers.
Do the Brits have a home advantage? Not really. Most nations have been here a while – including the US team, who almost see it as home. The Brits know these waters well, but at this point probably not much better than anyone else. The results speak for themselves; it looks likely that the top nation in Sailing medals for London 2012 will be Australia. Which is pretty ironic, one might even dare to say almost fair, as it was the Brits that topped the table for Sydney 2000!
Editors' Note: Gael is providing special reports on the US Sailing Team throughout the events in Weymouth. For previous posts, see below:
- Olympic Update: Heartbreak is International
- Star Class Back Again for the 2016 Olympics?
- First 2012 Olympic Sailing Medals decided in Weymouth
- US Olympic Match Racers Hit Form
- Olympic Update: USA 470 women hook into Weymouth
- Olympic Sailors Take to Snorkeling
- Olympic Sailing: Shifty Weymouth is Not For Quitters
- Olympic Sailing: Paige Railey's Day in Weymouth
- Olympic Finn Sailor Jonas Hogh-Christensen: Hotline to Elvström?
- Olympic Sailors Enjoy the Surroundings of Sleepy Dorset
- U.S. Olympic Sailors Wave the Stars & Stripes in Weymouth and London