A day trip to Weymouth is a very special way to see the sailing Olympics. And you don't need a ticket
Take a look at this photo. To me this photo sums up the fantastic experience that is the sailing Olympics in Weymouth: families having picnics on the shore and children hunting in rock pools with the racing and the beautiful chalk cliffs of Dorset in the background.
Don’t you dream of days like this?
Actually, to be honest, I didn’t.
When I heard we’d only got one official reporter’s accreditation for the Portland Olympic media centre I was downcast. I wouldn’t be there getting the lowdown and filing my 25 years out of date dinghy racing insights about the breeze going right, more pressure down the course, sitting in exhaust fumes, doing stuff with bullets, etc – expressions unheard in my distant youth.
Then I discovered I wouldn’t even be allowed into the ticketed Olympic area in Weymouth and I thought: well, what else is there? What’s the point in going? I’ll be an outsider left out in the cold, pressing my nose up against glass and looking longingly at all the fuss and excitement inside.
But how wrong I was.
A day in Weymouth for the Olympics is a special experience, even if you don’t have a ticket. You definitely do feel a part of it. Plus your schedule includes lounging on the beach, sunbathing and eating ice cream.
To be fair, the people with official tickets do have the best seats in the house. But those of us on the outside have the perfect opportunity to dip in and out of the racing action and have a day that looks just like the photo above.
It’s absolutely ideal if you want to mix some first-hand Olympic sailing spectating with a summer’s day out for the family, or with a group of friends. See my earlier tips for visiting here.
I took the photo above yesterday at Newton’s Cove, which looks out on the sailing race course and is the nearest spot to the Nothe course windward mark. Yesterday the women’s match race pairs were racing just offshore.
There were people swimming, lots of folk soaking up the sun and watching the racing through binoculars.
There’s another little spot right above which has one of the best views in town, and possibly the best homemade cakes, too. But I’ll write more about that later, after I’ve got my lunch order in.
As to how many people have come to Weymouth for the sailing as opposed to a seaside jaunt, I think I’ve got a slightly better handle on that now.
I still think most people are here with no deep or special interest in the sailing. Yesterday (Monday) seemed busier than Sunday, with many more people on the open area of the beach and queues for the sports arena, where you can try out dinghy sailing and windsurfing for free.
As for the racing fans, there are 3,500-4,000 a day in the ticketed area, and a further 2,000 people during the day yesterday watching the live TV coverage on the free Weymouth and Portland Live area of the town beach.
The latter, incidentally, has a great atmosphere and is a good place to bring a picnic. Richard Simmonds, Rob Walker and Shirley Robertson are doing a superb job on the commentary and explanations and although you can watch exactly the same thing at home on BBC red button it is very exciting being part of a crowd.
I’m back on the beach again today, and I’ll be looking at some of the quirky seaside things that Weymouth has to offer. I’ll be taking the harbour ferry, finding the town’s best fish and chips and trying to mount a donkey – as it were.
If there’s anything specific you would like me to find out (don’t ask about the toilets; I’m not doing any more hourly inspections), email firstname.lastname@example.org
Phew. And now, time to stop working my fingers to nubbins and get back to my beach towel.