We may be backing Team GBR, but down on the beach at Weymouth sailing Olympics we've our eyes on a few other choice sailors
It’s a home crowd in Weymouth so we are mainly cheering on Team
GBR. However, as the days go on we are beginning to be familiar with and
appreciate other sailors.
Down on the beach there’s something else going down. Let’s call
The number 1 sailor we’re underdogging for is Jonas
Hogh-Christensen. He has been beating Ben Ainslie this week, or putting lots of
bullets in the post as I believe we yachting experts say.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re still right behind you Ben, but
respect to anyone who can find the turbo button and sail through you as the
Viking god Jonas has done. That’s a special performance.
We’re also taking note of the Aussie leaders in the 49ers,
Nathan Outerridge and Iain Jensen. They’re so consistent.
The 49ers are a great crowd pleaser, especially with the thrills
and spills we’ve seen this week. On Tuesday, the Australians, the British team
and the Germans all capsized on camera within the space of ten minutes and the
instant the Germans righted their boat the wind took it and flipped it over the
other side. How we felt for them.
Having said which, the TV coverage gave us an immediate re-run
of the capsizes and we all watched it avidly again, oohing at all the same
The live TV coverage has changed everything and is why watching
from the beach, even though you can’t see a single sail for real (being round
the corner of the harbour wall) is a hundred times better than peering out into
the distance from some faraway vantage.
You get to see all the action close up, with on board footage of
the sailors hiking, tacking upwind, and aerial views that put it perfectly in
perspective. No silent vigil with binoculars could compete.
You also get Richard Simmonds’s excellent, avuncular commentary.
He gives us little potted biographies of the sailors and various backstories
and reminiscences. You can blame Richard for the spate of underdogging.
He tells us, for example, that Marit Bouwmeester, favourite to
win the Laser Radials, was spotted early on by Mark Littlejohn, former coach to
Britain’s Gold Medallist Shirley Robertson.
We also learned that she is wont to dye her hair a vivid colour.
I can’t help thinking that this says a lot about Olympic sailing; that putting
in a streak counts as being totally mental.
About Ireland’s new sailing star, Annalise Murphy, who is
leading overall from Bouwmeester as I write, we discovered that her mother
sailed for Ireland in a 470 back in the 80s. Read more here.
We also found (and saw for ourselves) that although she could be
seen with one hand on the mainsheet and the other clamped round her tiller
extension @annalise_murphy was tweeting and updating Facebook all the way up
the beat. Good god, these young people today.
Also a strong contender for a medal in the Finns is Croatian
Ivan Gaspic. We were told a little about him but I don’t sense he’s getting
huge underdog love yet. Richard informed us that Gaspic has come to Weymouth
with his own trainer, physio and chef. It sounds a bit best in breed at Crufts.
Does Gaspic not know that Team GBR and the cream of British
manhood are steeled by Weymouth fish and chips? Does Jonas H-C, the big
cinnamon Danish, look like a man who’d turn that down, or indeed a large
saveloy on the side? Man up, buddy.