Posts Tagged ‘Olympics’
We’ve already explained how Rio’s Olympic sailing venue is literally full of crap. Yesterday, our friends at Sailors For The Sea took aim at this nasty little problem; check out Tyson Bottenus’s take on it.
Last December Alan Norregaard, a Bronze medalist from the 2012 London Olympics, was just barely edging out Nico Delle Karth for first place as he approached the windward mark in the 2nd race of the 2013 Intergalactic Championships in Guanabara Bay, a rather large protected bay outside of Rio de Janeiro.
And then disaster struck when his 49er shuddered to a halt. He and his crew watched helplessly as the entire fleet passed by. Backwinding their mainsail, they peered into the murky water to see what had happened and what they saw was both infuriating and outrageous: their 49er was stopped dead in the water by a large plastic bag wrapped around their centerboard, floating haphazardly in the bay.
“I have sailed around the world for 20 years and this is the most polluted place I’ve ever been,” Norregaard told reporters after the race. He isn’t the only one complaining. This February, the Irish Sailing Team put out a request for funding to bring a doctor with them to Rio de Janeiro to assess “potential health concerns posed by untreated sewage water.” Stories and anecdotes are cropping up of dead horse carcasses and mattresses floating along the racecourse.
“The sewage is visible and we have identified it as a significant health risk to our athletes,” said James O’Callaghan, ISA Performance Director, to the Irish Times this February.
In 2016, sailing teams from all over the world will descend upon Brazil to take part in the Summer Olympics. Individuals and teams from around the world have been training for most of their lives for their chance to earn a medal. The least that can be hoped for is clean waters to compete.
Human impacts dating back to the late 1880s were found by a team of researchers when they analyzed sediment samples from the bottom of Guanabara Bay. But when these researchers looked closely, they found a significant increase in heavy metals dating back to the 1950s – approximately when Rio’s population began increasing exponentially. From 1950 onward, Rio’s population has ballooned more than 400%.
The effects of this population growth can be seen. According to the Associated Press, nearly 70% of Rio’s sewage goes untreated. Guanabara Bay is also the center point of a complex river drainage basin. Over 50 rivers flow into the bay bringing the untreated sewage and any disposed waste dumped from the 14,000 industries, 14 oil terminals, 2 commercial ports, 32 dock yards, more than 1,000 oil stations and 2 refineries that surround the bay.
A little more than a third of the 13,000 tons of solid waste produced every day in the Rio de Janeiro area is ejected directly into Guanabara Bay where it’s expected to make its way out with the tide. (Haven’t we learned that the solution to pollution is not dilution?) More often than not however, the trash ends up on Rio’s beaches and enmeshed in the meager mangrove forests that are left along the coast.
On top of that, three major oil spills have left a dirty mark on Guanabara Bay. While entering the Sao Sebastiao terminal in Guanabara Bay in 1975, an oil tanker from Iraq ran aground and spilled 70,000 barrels of oil. At the time it was the worst oil spill to ever occur in Brazil.
Twenty years later the Brazilian refinery operator Petrobras reported that a leaking pipeline had spilled over five times that amount. This put an immense strain on fishermen and their livelihood on the bay. Three years later Petrobras again admitted fault in yet another oil spill, this time because they had failed to install modern sensors on their pipelines.
The result was utter devastation. Brazil experienced an economic downturn as Guanabara Bay’s fisheries collapsed, leaving fishermen to find other sources of income. Environmental groups were furious at the level of incompetency demonstrated by Petrobras as Greenpeace protested by leaving oil-soaked birds and by chaining themselves to the railings outside of Petrobras’s headquarters.
As of today, there are less than two years till the 2016 Olympics. Can Brazil clean up over a century of economic development in the blink of an eye?
The Olympic Games have long been derided from an environmental standpoint as an unsustainable event. Think about all the resources that go into making the Games happen. Stadiums need to be erected, ski slopes must be carved, vast quantities of bottled water need to be on hand. It’s safe to say that the relationship between sport and sustainability is not always the most harmonious.
But if Rio is serious about it’s commitment to cleaning up Guanabara Bay, then this commitment has the potential to change the relationship between sport and sailing. For the sailing to happen, change must happen alongside. Only time will tell what kind of legacy Rio 2016 will leave behind.
March 20th, 2014 by admin
Well, there you have it, folks. ISAF has shown that it knows exactly where its bread is buttered, once again selecting olympic class sailors over everyone else for the sport’s highest honor. Out of 40 recipients of the award since its inception, this marks the 25th and 26th time that Olympic class dinghy sailors have won. This year’s pick: I-470 helm Mat Belcher and I-470 helm and crew “Jolly” as its male and female ‘World Sailors of the Year’. That’s the same ISAF that, without funding from the International Olympic Committee and IOC partners, would consist of three old guys in an office wearing blue blazers and nice watches.
Neither of the teams selected for the award won an Olympics during the qualification period, because there was no Olympics. So what, exactly, did they do? They won their respective dinghy class Worlds in 2013, along with some other ISAF-pimped events that no one in the world – except for 470 sailors and their families – cares about, or will ever care about. Yes, they are great sailors, the best in the world in their classes. But the World Sailors of the Year? Gimmeafuckingbreak.
Hey, at least ISAF is consistent. Consistent in their ability to screw up anything they touch.
New name suggestion for next year’s award? The 2014 ISAF WORLD SAILOR OF THE YEAR PRESENTED BY THE INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE®.
November 12th, 2013 by admin
Two-time Olympian Mark Clarke (Laser and Finn) from the Cayman Islands is unlikely to still be alive after disappearing days ago, police say. The longtime racer and sailor left the island for a solo fishing trip on Monday, with his 25-foot Badger washing up on a reef yesterday and no trace of the well-known waterman.
Police are appealing for anyone who saw Mr. Clarke or his sailboat between 7 a.m. on Monday and 10 a.m. on Tuesday to contact Sergeant Richard Scott on 325-8092.
October 26th, 2013 by admin
If you don’t like the Nacra 17, or you can’t stand how John Casey is always smiling, or if you think Sarah Newberry is just too adorable for you, you’re gonna have a hard time reading the front page of Sailing Anarchy for the next 3 years. We’re putting our Olympic medal money on them, and that means plenty of exposure right here. This sweet teaser from the Miami OCR comes from the editing desk of Petey Crawford/Penalty Box Productions, and he’s doing some of the best video work of his life lately. Check out JC and Sarah’s page here.
February 18th, 2013 by admin