Temperatures rising at Regatta

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The Independent Online
It is about 250 miles from Atlanta to the Southern city of Savannah at the delta mouth of the Wilmington River, the controversial choice as venue for the Olympic regatta.

While conditions will be tough for the competitors - and stories abound of mosquitoes big enough to deep-fry the legs - the sailors will have some relief in the form of the breezes which develop every afternoon, sucked in off the sea by the baking land.

Nevertheless, temperatures of over 100 degrees have been reported recently, humidity is over 90 per cent, and the need for rehydration has seen people drinking up to seven litres a day of fluid. When the support boats go out on to the water each day they will be loaded down with bottles of water.

While the official venue is Savannah, with its own opening and medal ceremonies, the teams have to be bussed each day to the shuttle centre and then taken by fast boat down the river to the day marina, a huge collection of barges with tents and pens for each team, loading ramps, and some administration facilities.

From there the competitors sail out to one of four race course areas for two races a day. A long time out in the sun and humidity with no shade.

The Americans clearly hope to dominate the medal table. For the British, the aim is to win at least as many medals as in any post-war Olympics, which means two, and they are on course to do this.

British yachtsmen have won something at most post-war Games and, despite some mutterings about needing to do better, have looked a lot smarter than some of their European rivals of late. They are well-funded, well- prepared, and have had both a team house locally and exclusive use of the Savannah Yacht Club.

They have had a major programme to analyse the weather conditions led by the Proudman Institute in Liverpool, a tide and current study from Curvaceous Software in London, specific humidity training and monitoring at the Bishop Otter College in Chichester and a diet researched by Dr Frank Newton.

They will also have a special range of lightweight clothing developed by Douglas Gill to keep them cool, comfortable and protected from ultra- violet light. It is even meant to be lower in wind resistance, while at the same time resistant to the wind.

GREAT BRITAIN: Windsurfer men: H Plumb. Windsurfer women: P Wilson. 470 men (doublehanded dinghy): J Merricks and I Walker. 470 women: B Raggatt and S Carr. Finn (men's singlehander): R Stenhouse. Europe (women's singlehander): S Robertson. Laser (open singlehander): B Ainslie. Tornado (catamaran): I Rhodes and D Williams. Star (open two-person keelboat): G Charles and G Skuodas. Soling (three-person keelboat with match race final): A Beadsworth, B Parkin, A Stead.

Stuart Alexander