The 2012 Olympic regatta will be held at the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy center. Located about 120 miles west-southwest of London, Weymouth and Portland harbors provide an ideal combination of “clean” southwesterly breezes and flat water, thanks to low-lying Chesil Beach and Portland Isle, which together comprise Weymouth Harbor’s western shore. Tides and tidal currents are moderate for the British Isles, with the range varying between three and six feet.
The sailing center is located on the grounds of a former Royal Navy Air Station and has been completely rebuilt for the Games at a cost of around $12 million. The seven-acre facility includes two separate launch ramps with a combined width of over 200 yards, 600 dinghy spaces, 125 slips and a dedicated windsurfer rigging area.
Racing will take place on five different courses, including three larger courses out on Weymouth Harbor, an inshore course within the breakwaters protecting Portland Harbor (which will be used primarily for RS:X sailboard and 49er skiff racing) and a medal course off the city of Weymouth’s Nothe peninsula—where organizers plan to erect a grandstand for those race fans lucky enough to obtain tickets.
Schedule and Scoring
A total of 380 sailors aboard just over 250 boats will compete in 10 different events. Fleet sizes will range from 48 boats in the Laser fleet to just 12 teams in the women’s match racing event. The United States has qualified to compete in all 10 events.
Racing is scheduled to begin Sunday, July 29, and end on Saturday, August 11. All nine fleet-racing classes will use a low-points scoring system, with the first-place finisher in each race earning one point, second place earning two points, etc. At the end of 10 fleet races (15 races for the 49ers) the top 10 boats in each fleet will take part in a final medal race to determine an overall winner.
The women’s match racing event will begin with a round-robin series in which all 12 teams will compete. The top eight boats will then compete for spots in the semi-final and finals races to determine who wins gold.
Racing will be fast-paced in all events. The “target time” for the 49er and RS:X races is 30 minutes, with racing in the other classes expected to take an hour or less—30 minutes for medal races. For a complete, detailed schedule visit london2012.com.
Watching the Regatta
Sailing fans rejoice—no more having to sit through hours of rhythmic gymnastics in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the action in Weymouth! For the first time, the official U.S. Olympic broadcaster, NBC, will be live-streaming video of all 32 sports and 302 medal events. Fans can access this content on their computers, mobile phones or tablets. Visit nbcolympics.com for more information. You can even watch a little rhythmic gymnastics action, if you get a hankering!
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Top image courtesy of WPNSA Ltd.