Great to see Brisbane get the nod in a one-horse race for the XXXV Olympiad in 2032. No photo-finish required. They squeaked over the line with a thumping majority but curiously five votes against and you wonder who, on the IOC, were the five national authorities that voted against a single candidate? What on earth were they proposing instead? Perhaps a protest vote but why pick on Brisbane – beautiful place…
Anyhow, Olympic politics is a lifelong exercise in head-scratching, Brisbane has the ticket and the sports-mad Aussies will be fabulous hosts after Japan, France and the USA have raised the bar respectively ahead of their turn.
What will sailing look like by then, who knows? It won’t look like it is in Enoshima that’s for sure. This is the last hurrah for the Finn; the 470 is on life-support, the windsurfers look like a throw-back and that Nacra thing is just plain odd. The ILCA is looking dated and so too, whisper it quietly, are the 49ers. We will look back on this regatta in years to come and say, what on earth were we thinking? It could almost be a regatta from the 1990’s.
For by the time Brisbane comes around, with a bit of guts and foresight, water will be just a conduit to flying, a vital inconvenience to be glided across. Boats, if that’s what they are, won’t be displacing the green stuff of Manly Boat Harbour. No, no, no…we will have tactical racing at fever pitch conducted a few feet above the briny in technical platforms akin to a computer game. In fact, by 2032, could the eOlympics be more popular than the real thing? It’s a long way away and the lockdown generation will be coming into their prime. Interesting.
But for now, let’s savour what could be the last relevant Olympic Games for those of us who don’t quite get the modern world. I count myself in that as someone that hasn’t even foiled yet (although Rob Andrews of Foiling World has very kindly offered). There are stories across the Olympic fleet and there are some excellent journalists on site bringing the whole game to life. Credit where it’s due, World Sailing is doing a terrific job on the social media channels providing snapshots of competitors and back-stories. Richard Gladwell is in situ for the brilliant Sail-World and the peerless Shirley Robertson is there for British television. With talent like that, we spectators will be fed generously with news and gossip. The photos and videos coming back from the athletes too are pretty amazing. They’ve all been training for a few days and it’s these last little tweaks to kit and settings whilst trying to remain calm and focused that will determine the winners.
Can you just imagine the nerves you must feel going into an Olympic Games? It has to be worse when you are a favourite as the weight of expectancy, the media attention and the hopes of your family and friends rest on your shoulders. Some thrive in that cauldron, others wilt. It’s not a normal regatta with a piece of glass or a name on a wooden board in gold lettering. No, this is life-defining stuff. Win Gold and you get political association. You’re a winner and everyone wants a piece of you. Forevermore you are ‘that person’ and it’s something that can never be taken away from you. Your success may be tallied with others but Olympic metal shines on a CV like no other – the Cup included.
For us sailors of a lesser pedigree we are watching technique and we think we know what we are looking at. Chances are we don’t but it’s highly motivating to see the top ILCA sailors at play or seeing Blair Tuke and Pete Burling paralelling (if that’s a word) in perfect symmetry. I like watching Hannah Mills sail. I thoroughly enjoy seeing the technique in the Finns and I like the drama that the Olympics throws up and the desperation of the medal races. It’s a decent format. Can it be better, yes. Will it be a terrific festival of sailing, certainly.
Let the Games begin.