I arrived in Athens at 3:00 pm Thursday the 14th, after the standard 20 hour trip, to a pleasant 95 degree temperature. My crew, Phil, had gone to Italy on Monday to get our new Star boat and drive it to Ancona where they boarded a Ferry to Patras in Greece . From there it was a four hour drive to Athens and the Olympic Venue. We hooked up around 5:00 pm at the Olympic Village.
The first order of business was to get into the Village. To do this everyone must be credentialed. This is a registration process that involves showing your passport and getting a photo ID made that you use to enter the venue each day. Without the credential you don’t do anything. Entering the venue is like getting on a flight. A line to go through the X-Ray machine, the guards go through your bags, shoes off, etc. The whole nine yards. The amount of security is impressive.
Once we got that done, around 6:00 pm , we went to work on rigging our brand new boat. With the heat, late in the day is the best time to work on the land. So we spent three hours checking everything and rigging the mast. We left the Venue feeling like we had put a good days work in and we went back to our hotel, called the Palace (I am not sure what “Palace” means in Greece but it isn’t what you’d expect) ate dinner, took a shower and hit the sack by 11:30.
Slept reasonably last night even though there is a 10 hour time difference between Pacific Daylight Time and Greek time. Today we got down to the Venue around 0900 and went to work our list of thing to fine tune on the boat. Then we got the boat in the water at 11:00 , went to the Athletes Village for lunch and headed out for our maiden voyage at 12:30 . We sailed against the Spanish team for a couple of hours, made a few adjustments and got back to the dock by 5:00pm and hauled the boat out. The Star is a 2 man keel boat, about 22 feet long and weight 1400 pounds, so it gets craned in and out of the water. We did a few more projects and left the venue around 7:00pm for a US Sailing Team meeting at 7:30 pm .
The US Sailing team consists of about 20 athletes and 4 coaches. At the Olympic games, there are several different disciplines (classes of boats), such as Catamaran, sailboard, 1 man dinghy, 2 man dinghy and men’s and women’s classes in each. Each class has different ideal weight of its crew members. Most people who have Olympic campaigns are younger than 28. I am a bit of an exception and was pleasantly surprised to win the US ranking system in the Star class this year and therefore qualify to attend this “Pre-Olympic” event. If we when the US Olympic Trials next March, this experience will be very valuable. As in the Olympics, there is just one boat per country in each class.
Tomorrow I am going to the gym and then we will sail again. Sunday our boat and sails will be measured, weighed and completely scrutinized by the measurement authority. Phil and I will be weighed also as there is a maximum weight that we can be. Crew weight is fast in sail boats as the crew project their weight outboard to counter balance the wind blowing against the sails. The more you weigh, the more wind you can hold in your sails, and the faster you go. That is as long as you are fit enough to hold your weight out over the side for two hours, twice a day in 90 degree heat. So, off to the gym.