The Olympics are Nearly Here…

It's an Olympic year and I'm excited.

I know a lot of people feel differently to me about Olympic sailing. Some feel it is too far removed from the sport we do week-in week-out at our local clubs. The sailors are professionals, and they all have coaches and nutritionists and masseuses and mummy boats.

And I get all that, and I have some sympathy with the argument.

My own feeling is that you're always going to get some people that "professionalise" the sport, so you just have to deal with it as best you can. These days, the countries that invest lots more more money in sailing often get better results than those countries that don't or can't invest as much. But, in the old amateur days, wealthy individuals that could afford to sail full-time had an unfair advantage over those that needed to hold down jobs in order to be able to afford to compete.

Both ways have real imbalances and injustices, but I edge towards the modern professionalism because it means you don't need to be rich as an individual to compete - just good.

But it is a very long way from being perfect, that's for sure.

Anyway, I still love the Olympics, and especially now that sailing gets a decent amount of coverage.

Yup - there's going to be sailing on TV!

Actual, proper, sit-on-your-sofa TV.


This is the one time every four years when people that know me from something other than sailing say things like "Oh, I didn't know that's the kind of sailing you do. I had a different picture in my head." And then I feel I am justified in talking at them for half an hour about "my kind of sailing" while they first try to look interested, then look at me blankly, and finally start to panic because they realise there's a real chance that I won't stop talking.

It is the one time every four years that I get to listen to mainstream sports anchors and panellists try to sound like they know what the hell is going on in a sailing regatta. Or read articles in the mainstream press about sailors and sailing by people who wouldn't set foot on a boat if their life depended on it.

And then there's the fact that we're still in that awkward teenage phase with TV coverage of sailing, where we don't know quite who we want to be or how to present ourselves to the world. We're still experimenting.

Should we dumb it down and explain the simple things for a wider audience? Or should we be getting more technical so that more seasoned sailors can get something out of the coverage?

All of this stuff kind of adds to the charm, and hopefully, despite all the difficulties and controversies that we've had in the build up to Rio, we'll get a great week of racing.

So in the spirit of getting excited about the Olympics I've decided to publish a few bits to help get us all in the mood. I thought I'd do some biographies to help get to know some of the sailors better, but I quickly realised that this would involve some significant research and hard work on my part.

So instead I've decided to make the biographies up. I mean, how hard can it be to guess a sailor's background? You can tell a lot about a person just by looking at them and, although I am generally spectacularly inaccurate at doing this, I feel very confident that this time I will be pretty much spot on.

I'll begin tomorrow with double world champion and the winner of last week's Sailing World Cup in the Laser - Nick Thompson.

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