Today, the Australian above, Tom Slingsby, won the Olympic Gold Medal in Sailing for the Laser class. That’s the type of boat I used to race as a junior Olympic sailor around New England back in high school, so I’m pretty excited. However, no one knows anything about Laser sailing. I watched a preliminary race on NBC’s website last night and wrote a little annotation up for anyone who wants to skip around and get a sense of what a typical race looks like. It’s a little sloppy, but I don’t have time to edit.
Here is the video.
“This is a Laser race–that’s the class of boat I used to race! Not saying I’m this good but this is what it looked like. There’s a false start or something at the beginning, so you can watch through the first few minutes to see what the beginning of a sailboat race looks like, which is pretty unique: There is a five minute count-down, and then everyone tries to cross the imaginary line between two anchored boats simultaneously, immediately before it hits zero. You can see it gets very tight at the starting line! The race starts about 6 minutes into the youtube video. You can see them tacking up wind for the first part of the race, jockeying for position! See how they’re sitting? It’s called hiking and it is the ultimate core work out. At 13:30 there is some cool on-boat video that shows you how wet it gets when you’re going fast. They’re all heading for the same mark, and at 15:30 you can start seeing them come in to approach it for the first turn. You’ll hear them yelling things like “starboard” and “leeward”—they are saying that they have right-of-way and the other boats need to get out of their ways. At 16:25 you can see a boat that’s going around the mark turn in a circle instead of racing off with the rest of them—that means he hit either the mark or another boat and is doing a penalty turn. By 17:30, they’re focused on the boats “running” down wind–sailing front of the wind down to the next mark, which they reach about at about the 21:30 mark. Then it’s back upwind! By 22 there is a cool shot of all the boats turning up wind (they can around either mark). Start watching again at 29 minutes to see the Argentian guy and the Swedish guy duking it out as the frontrunners around the mark. Now everyone races downwind to the downwind mark again! You can fuck with the fronrunners by getting behind them and stealing their wind; that’s what everyone will try to do. Around 34:10 there is a nice in-boat footage of what it looks like when you’re going downwind. The Argentine rounds the mark around 35 minutes. He’s fast, but Portugal and Sweden are just behind. Now it’s an upwind fight to the final mark, around the 43 minute mark. … Ok I got distracted by the Mars lander press conference. They are doing a ton of laps, but at 1 hour and 2 minutes they finally cross the finish line. The Argentine wins. It’s only the prelims! WHOO.”