What are the domes on the back of the boats?
We might used to seeing special branding for the sailing Olympics on the hulls and brightly coloured national flags on the sails, but what are the white mini domes have been sprouting off the backs of the Stars, 470s and Finns?
The units which look like mini versions of the satellite communication domes that can be seen on superyachts and commercial vessels, are TV cameras which will bring live on board views during racing. At present the units that have been fitted are all dummies. They weigh 3kg, the same as the proper camera units that will be dished out to some of the sailors on each day.
The cameras are driven remotely by operators on the shore and beam back live pictures taking audiences not just out onto the water, but aboard some of the boats.
However, this isn’t a permanent arrangement. The Finns for example, are understood to be using the cameras for the first two days only, after which the units will be removed.
But while everyone has to carry the same weight, not everyone is happy.
“It’s like asking athletes in the 100m sprint to run with a head cam,” one coach told me. “It changes the trim of the boat and actually takes them out of class.”
Having said that, teams have known about the plans to strap cameras to their boats for some time. The well organised teams have trained with an additional 3kg strapped to the back of the boat in order to find out how the weight affects the performance of the boat. They have also been able to assess how the additional weight might change the way in which other areas of the boat need to be set up to compensate.
But while this doubtless adds another level of complexity to already intense Olympic campaigns, to ride on the stern tank of any of these boats in a breeze musty surely be as tantalising a prospect as riding pillion in a Moto GP. As followers of the motorcycle grand prix circuit will know, riding pillion on TV has brought the racing alive, especially when cameras look backwards at the competition, just as the brakes go on and the bike is laid down into a tight bend.
We all know that this kind of action exists on our race courses and now hopefully we can see the best perform for real.