It may be disappointing to many Americans to see the US Sailing Team struggling to recover from their historic medal shutout in London, but by almost any standard, the team is already doing better than the 2012 debacle. We will be analyzing their performance once the games are over, but for right now, if NBC doesn’t completely fuck it up again, you might just get lucky enough to watch some double-points medal racing live tomorrow. Three US teams will sail the finale; young Caleb Paine sits just outside the Finn medals in fourth, while Paige Railey will try to move up from 10th with no chance at the podium. Bora and Louisa will see if they can jump a few spots from 9th, and if it all happens fast enough, we might see some 470 racing (or spot a severed leg). Read the US Sailing update from Monday here.
live broadcast hasn’t done viewership numbers any favors, but at least US Sailing’s media department is using their noggins; they landed a well-written and informative story on data and the US team on Nate Silver’s news and data site 538.com. Silver’s celebrity stems from his uncannily accurate predictions of major events, elections, and the like, and he’s getting YUGE traffic right now. Here’s an excerpt:
The U.S. sailing team left the 2012 London Olympics without any medals — it was the first time Americans had failed to place in an event since the 1936 Berlin games. They weren’t even that close, either. Sixteen sailors, across 10 events, and the best anyone managed at the 2012 London Olympics was fifth place. They were disappointed with the result, one that brought the failure of U.S. sailing — one of those sports we only really hear about every four years — to the forefront…
…While the exact location of courses on Guanabara weren’t finalized until the fall of 2015, test events in the two years prior gave Team USA a pretty good sense of where the races would be.
They dropped custom current buoys both inside and outside the bay, gathering data on how the water moves at various points throughout during the day. They tracked windspeed and direction, two factors that are critical to a sailor’s ability to find the fastest lane, and which can shift quickly around the mountains that flank both sides of the bay.
The three years of gathering and analyzing data culminated in what U.S. Sailing calls their “Rio Weather Playbook,” a body of critical information about each of the seven courses only available to the U.S. team. They’re not calling it a silver bullet, but Adams says the playbook project was one of the most comprehensive data efforts that U.S. sailing has ever done. “This is a unique undertaking for U.S. sailing,” he said. “In terms of the amount of time that we collected data, it’s one of the most extensive projects.”
Read the rest of the story here.