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Posts Tagged ‘Olympics’

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418753_157953491008723_1925993192_n 29 year-old Lucas Calabrese is perhaps the world’s best Optimist coach, but he’s also one of a handful of Argentinos to ever win an Olympic sailing medal.  He’s back at it in the 470 Class this August, and our old pal John Casey caught up with him in an entertaining chat about a whole pile of stuff; meeting the Argentine president and being a celebrity for 15 minutes, crime and disease and South American politics and the Olympics, and much, much more in the next episode of the JC Worldwide Podcast.  Catch up with all of JC’s work over here or subscribe on iTunes.

 

June 27th, 2016 by admin

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Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 9.43.40 AMRio 2016 watchers never seem to have to wait long for yet another scandal; since our last piece there have been more robberies, more assaults, and on Friday the World Anti-Doping Agency suspended the only WADA-accredited lab in Brazil for noncompliance with lab standards.

Putting aside WADA’s own disgusting treatment of the Russian doping issue (which included them literally turning in a whistleblower to the Russian authorities before dragging their feet for years on a problem they knew about), the latest kerfuffle likely means big delays in testing the thousands of athletes already in Brazil for the duration, and hundreds of thousands in unplanned costs to fly the samples overseas for testing.

Precisely zero people worldwide are surprised at the latest news, and we’re all just wondering what the hell is next. Man-eating sharks on the rampage? Gang wars on the beach?  Armed rebellion? Zombie apocalypse?  Watch the news and you probably won’t need to wait long.

June 26th, 2016 by admin

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Despite widespread doubt at pro racer Dee Smith’s disability, he passed whatever disability exam ISAF threw at him and has already been selected as the US Paralympic sailor for the 2.4 mR competition in Rio this summer.  Medemblik, Netherlands is Dee’s first regatta since scoring the slot, and he started off his career as an Olympian today with a literal “Bang!”. What a douche.

We don’t know what happened at all, but we do know what a huge hole in the pre-start on the starboard side of the boat means 99% of the time.  See the title of this piece for more information…

Photo thanks to Sander van der Borch.

 

May 24th, 2016 by admin

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When I was little, we found a man. He looked like – like, butchered. The old woman in the village crossed themselves… and whispered crazy things, strange things. “El Diablo cazador de hombres.” Only in the hottest years this happens. And this year, it grows hot. We begin finding our men. We found them sometimes without their skins… and sometimes much, much worse. “El cazador trofeo de los hombres” means the demon who makes trophies of men. 

This line from one of Hollywood’s true classics is as silly now as it was when we first heard it in 1987, but somehow, it seems to describe the decaying situation in all of Brazil, but especially Rio.  With thousands of athletes on the ground training in the hot, stinky city, reports are beginning to come in showing crime, corruption, construction, and political chaos pushing towards a furious crescendo.

Nationally, President Dilma Roussef came out of hiding the other day giving her first big international interview to Glenn Greenwald, and she shows no sign of ending the political civil war that’s led to millions of protestors in the street every few weeks, and a completely uncertain political future for the nation.

Closer to the Olympics, training for got a lot more hazardous recently.  One Spanish gold medal team was allegedly held up at gunpoint last week and robbed clean of gear, money, and papers last week by a band of banditos close to Olympic Sailing HQ at Marina De Gloria.  Their coach spent most of a day driving around with local police trying to find the thieves.

Also last week, a gunfight broke out in the Favela just above the grounds of the Rio Yacht Club in Niteroi; the training base for several national teams and Torben Grael’s home club. The members and athletes seemed to think it was fireworks at first – until they saw the boat workers running for cover.  According to the article in Veja, authorities would have covered it up (as usual) were it not for the athletes witnessing the gunfight – including a bullet grazing the wall of the club.  Until this event, the Danish and other teams’ request for more police security near the team bases were ignored.  Now, many of these teams just don’t walk anywhere – a taxi takes them even when they need to go a half a mile.

Yet while the crime and political/economic uncertainty are ever-present, they’re still something of a lottery; if you use your head and follow some basic rules, visitors to Brazil can minimize most risks  (and if inflation continues to skyrocket, you might actually get some incredible deals down there).  But there’s one risk that no sailor can really get away from – the water.  And as the rain starts to fall, it’s getting as bad as it ever has been.

On Tuesday, a new hue graced the bay – iridescent green, the color of anti-freeze, with a smell of ‘burning chemicals and decomposition.” (see pic below). One crew saw a huge sea turtle upside-down on the foamy green surface of the bay.  She was unsure whether it was the plastic entangling its face or the poisoned waters that killed it.

And then there is the pic that headlined this piece, shot on Friday smack in the middle of the Medal Race Course.  Well, we don’t know where the dog was shot – or even if it was a gun that did him in – but the photo was definitely shot there.  If we didn’t laugh, we’d cry, and aside from the poor bastards who have to compete there, our condolences go out to the proud Brazilians, their humiliation and shame on display to the entire planet – for three more months.

rioBrazil’s current crises – and yes, that’s plural – are likely to continue to worsen just as the world’s eyes are all turned Southward, with the once-burgeoning economy getting pulled back into the morass that’s defined so much of Central and South American politics and government for the better part of the past century.  Even if economic chaos is fairly common to much of Latin America, the confluence of factors hitting Brazil right now is something far worse.  The worst James Bond villain could never pull it all off; pollution, corruption, impeachment, Zika, a crime wave, and oil prices all crushing the country at the same time?  No way.

Were this the Winter Olympics, we’d end up shrugging our shoulders and saying, “oh, well, another fucked country,” and maybe sparing a few thoughts for its inhabitants, but this time, it’s different:  These are OUR friends and our families and OUR crews and our skippers in harm’s way, and the more they know you’re behind them, the more likely they are to stay safe.  We don’t know how it is that the IOC and ISAF are immune to worldwide pressure to actually behave responsibly, but if you care about your athletes, please continue to push via social media on those organizations, the media, and the Olympic sponsors.

 

May 22nd, 2016 by admin

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We’ve been bitching about the Rio Olympics for a long time now, however quaint our original complaint – sewage and garbage-laden Guanabara Bay – seems in light of recent developments; something of a coup d’etat/impeachment, a crumbling economy, and Zika, which blows them all away.

The Zika virus is potentially so bad that no less than the prestigious Harvard Public Health Review just published a scathing editorial calling for the postponement of the Games to prevent a new and dangerous pandemic.  Read the whole thing and let your own NGB know what you think about it, we’ll leave you with this excerpt:

But for the Games, would anyone recommend sending an extra half a million visitors into Brazil right now?  Of course not: mass migration into the heart of an outbreak is a public health no-brainer.  And given the choice between accelerating a dangerous new disease or not—for it is impossible that Games will slow Zika down—the answer should be a no-brainer for the Olympic organizers too.  Putting sentimentality aside, clearly the Rio 2016 Games must not proceed.

Regrettably, instead of discussing the alternatives, both the International Olympic Committee and the World Health Organization seem to be in deep denial.  Asked about Zika, the most senior member of the IOC, Dick Pound, mocked it as “a manufactured crisis” for anyone but pregnant women (manufactured by whom?).[19]  With the most recent epidemiological evidence out of Rio, and new clinical studies all but proving that Zika causes microcephaly and, maybe, Guillain-Barré disease, the IOC’s sanguine, official statement on Zika and the Games from January 2016 is hopelessly obsolete—that organization must now break its months-long silence.

Even worse is WHO, which has never issued an official statement on Zika and the Olympics.  When I pressed WHO about that in April, through a spokesperson it “agreed with” the IOC’s obsolete statement, but refused to answer the direct question of whether WHO has confidence in Rio’s Games being safe.[20]  It is deplorable, incompetent and dangerous that WHO, which has both public health expertise and the duty of health protection, is speechlessly deferring to the IOC, which has neither.  WHO’s hesitancy is reminiscent of its mistakes with Ebola, all over again.

 

May 13th, 2016 by admin

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Zika, Roussef’s impeachment, and Brazil’s nasty recession have taken the focus off the putrid condition of the Olympic Sailing Venue in Guanabara Bay, but a team of high level documentarians is hoping to make sure the environmental lessons learned in this debacle of an Olympics will never be forgotten.  If you believed any of the ISAF or IOC or Rio2016 bullshit, watch the beautifully produced trailer above to find out the real truth from people who really have something to lose.  Here’s a deeper description from our friends at Sailors For The Sea.

We just recently helped raise the funds to send the film crew to finish filming so the documentary can be released before the Olympics. Tomorrow we are launching a crowd-funding campaign to finish production. We could really use the help of the passionate Sailing Anarchy base to get this thing off the ground. With 99 days to the Olympics I don’t think it could be better timing!

Film Overview
When the world descends on Brazil this August for the Olympics, they are going to get more than they bargained for. Shopping carts and couches, offensive odors and a web of plastic pollution blanket the once iconic landscape of Guanabara Bay.

The film will document the origin of waste, from the communities where it is generated, to the streams and major tributaries that carry it into the Bay. We will define the scope of the problem and tell this story from the perspective of community members and activists who desire lasting change, such as Arthur a young sailor featured in the trailer.

We will also document community-level waste collection centers, and other localized solutions that can be scaled, as an example not only of the hope, but also of the real and prosperous future that is possible for the citizens of Rio, who call the Bay their home.

Sound Off Films’ founder Annie Costner has been traveling back and forth to Rio since 2011. Intrigued by the waste issue and determined to tell the locals’ side of the story—which extends beyond the concerns of international athletes competing in this summer’s Olympics—she started asking questions.

Read On.

 

April 29th, 2016 by admin

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Kevin Hall’s resumé is Hall of Fame stuff, but what sets him most apart from the usual pro-sailor crowd is his massive, never-slowing brain.  Unfortunately, it’s also his biggest enemy.  Join the JC Worldwide Podcast for an hour plus with this fascinating man, who has more stories from a lifetime of Olympic and America’s Cup than you can shake a spinnaker pole at.  And for anyone whose ever had mental illness touch their life or their family’s, Kevin’s new book Black Sails, White Rabbits is an absolute must-read.  World travelers or daily commuters can get a full list of JC’s ever-growing podcast library here.

 

April 25th, 2016 by admin

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Allah frowned on the Sultanate of Oman this past weekend after the beautiful town of Muscat provided yet another dismal showing for the beleaguered ACWS.  Fortunately, only a few gullible AC junkies paid to watch The World’s Fastest Boats drift around at 7 knots in another mind-numbingly bad pay-per-view production of The World’s Best Everything, and local spectators were nonexistent.

ISAF kindly waited for Russell Coutts’ Drifting Circus to end before releasing the news that proved ACEA is just as incompetent as ISAF at picking venues; after learning that they were required to guarantee equal treatment of all member nations’ sailors – even the Jews – Oman has officially withdrawn from their hosting of the 2016 ISAF Youth Worlds.

This is the same Oman that’s already spent tens of millions of dollars on the Oman Sail initiative to help transform the Sultanate into an international yachting destination while reintroducing Oman’s sailing heritage into the national culture.  Apparently, the Sultan just isn’t that into sailing any more – at least not if it means his kingdom needs to play by the same rules as everyone else.

Oman Sail CEO David Graham seemed to miss the news.  According to him, “The feedback…from the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman has been extremely positive. Let’s do it again!”  At least so long as the Jews stay home?

Several hig-ranking Israelis have  told us that without Sailing Anarchy’s highlighting of a little story on a little Tel Aviv news network back in November, this disturbing trend of anti-Israeli discrimination in international yachting may have continued unnoticed, and without thousands of you guys calling, writing, social media shaming, and otherwise holding ISAF and your national authorities’ feet to the fire; it’s a great example of the people taking their organization back from power-hungry bureaucrats and the vendors who curry their favor.

We also encourage you not to let up, and to continue to push back against the man who has presided over the most embarrassing period in ISAF/World Sailing history: President Carlo Croce.  While our sources have told us he is a passionate sailor who joined the ExComm to do good things, we’ve also seen how quickly power can corrupt at the top level of any sport.  Croce is currently caught in a massive and blatant conflict of interest that never should have been allowed — he continues to sit as both President of the Italian Sailing Federation AND President of Italy’s most prestigious yacht club — it’s time for a major change, starting with the man responsible for much of the opacity and intransigence of sailing’s governing federation.

Those who care about the governance of the sport and about sailing’s international reputation, we encourage you to get educated, and a good place to start is a deep look into the summarily inadequate Minutes of ISAF’s Executive Committee meeting from February 12th in Rio.  What’s the next big drama?  We think there are more than a few clues in here.

 

February 29th, 2016 by admin

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DSC_0008Haegar/Provencha and McNay/Hughes offer by far the US Sailing Team Sperry’s most solid medal hopes for Rio 2016, and with both duos performing exceedingly well over the past year, even gold is within reach this August.  But more than halfway through the Argentina Worlds (the first selection series for the American mens’ and womens’ 470 teams), neither team has quite found their form.  Stu and Dave lie just inside the medal race cutoff at 10, and Annie and Brie sit in 6th place, 3 back from the peaking past SCOTW Sydney Bolger with crew Carly Shevitz.  The big story is just how impossibly clogged the racing area is with massive, moving islands of vegetation pouring out the river mouth.  Supercoach Morgan Reeser reports (with thanks to Morgs for the shot of the Greek team soft aground):

Weeds continue to dominate the 470 Worlds.  In race 6 today, the 5th overall placed Greek team became mired in a maze of weed so thick on the first beat that they could not find a way out, so they retired from the race.  We had three races today, but were forced to move course areas for each race because of the weeds eventually took over the course area. Each course area move about a 3 mile change of venue.

I will never complain about a little bit of kelp again.

 

February 25th, 2016 by admin

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He’s a Bronze and Silver medalist, 13-time World Champ, 50-Time Aussie Champ, ’92 and ’96 Aus Yachtsman of the year, ’04 Dutch Sailor of the year, and numerous record holder (Playstation and Club Med).  He was in part responsible for developing the Volvo Extreme 40 and the EXSS, he never pulls punches, and his sense of humor is only matched by his honesty.

He’s the legendary Mitch Booth, and JC grabbed him for another solid JC Worldwide podcast.  Learn from a multiple Olympian why the mixed crew format on the Nacra 17 isn’t right at all, and how sailing might be better off if it escapes from the Olympics’ grip.  Here some of Mitch’s ‘Oh, Shit!’ moments on Playstation, how Mitch helped develop the ‘Chupacabra’ gennaker, and how he’s worked to always stay on the innovative edge of the sport.

 

February 17th, 2016 by admin

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