Rio de Janeiro – Finn – Four years of training and four years of careful preparation and it’s come down to this: 23 Finn heroes lining up against each other in front of the awesome spectacle that is Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janiero. The 2016 Olympics for the Finn class is just one day away. The training is done. Now the sailors just want the battle to begin.
With measurement completed and the usual angst over applying the stickers on the sails now in the past, the sailors can change gear into competition mode and begin to focus on the task ahead.
The racing opens on Tuesday under the imposing heights of the Sugar Loaf mountain, on what is effectively the spectator course, as well as one of the trickiest courses the sailors have ever experienced.
Anders Pedersen (NOR) is heading into his first Olympics. “I am really looking forward to it. It will be really nice to finally get started racing.”
“It’s going to tricky for sure. Anything can happen there, so I see that as a plus for me and I think it’s challenging for everyone. The favourites are not so favoured on the Sugar Loaf course when basically everything can happen.”
On his Games experience so far. “It’s been great so far. We’ve been a bit behind schedule but now everything seems to be sorting itself out so I think it’s all good. All the athletes and the Brazilians are enjoying the Games so far.”
His says his preparation has been going well except, “I had a small bump last week. I went to the hospital with some stomach issues, but luckily it got better really quickly so I am back in business and all good.”
All the sailors were upbeat about starting the regatta, but most went out for a final shakedown sail.
With one day to go, the London 2012 bronze medallist, Jonathan Lobert (FRA), said, “I think I am ready. I am just going on the water today to check that everything is OK with the boat, no stupid mistakes like crossing the ropes. Yesterday at the measurement everything was OK, so, so far so good.”
On Sunday, in the unusually the strong winds he was the only one to go out. “You know, I always like to train in every condition. Yesterday was windy so I thought it was a good chance to practice the manoeuvres. You never know what will happen. Yesterday the wind came in very quickly, so we could have one day like that and you need to be ready for everything.”
On the unusual weather. “We’ve been training here a lot and we realised that the weather can change really quickly. We had some days when the weather forecast was saying no wind and suddenly the wind was kicking in and sometimes it’s raining when it shouldn’t and the opposite is also true. So you need to keep your mind open and be ready for everything. And that’s why yesterday I thought it was a good chance to practice in the strong breeze.”
On sailing the opening races on the Sugar Loaf course, “I would say it’s the most tricky course, so it will be quite interesting racing, but we’ll see how it is tomorrow.”
On the expected forecast. “To be honest I never look at the forecast. I always take what I have. We have this joke with the team weather guy, he’s always mad at me because I am never reading the bulletin. It’s only François [Le Castrec, his coach] checking it, but most of the time I never look at the forecast, I just take it as it is.”
While Lobert heads into his second Games, Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) will be sailing in his third. “I am fully ready. It’s obvious to say but we put the emphasis on the Games and it feels like that and it feels ready and it feels totally different from the last Olympics. Then I felt I had a lot of nerves, but now I feel really prepared.”
“I am looking forward to tomorrow. It feels nice. There will be some action and I am really looking forward to it. Let’s make it a special one, a very special one, and let’s enjoy this.”
“The people here are great. It’s a great place, with great conditions. It’s great to be here, it’s amazing.”
Of course all eyes will be on the favourite Giles Scott (GBR), sailing his first Olympic races. “I’m confident, but also aware it’s another regatta and on top of that it’s the Olympic Games and anything can happen.”
“Conditions are really difficult to predict. The test events we’ve had here over the last couple of years have actually turned out to be pretty good from a sailor’s point of view.”
“Hopefully if we get what are regarded as ‘normal conditions’ for this time of year we should get good racing.”