Musto Performance Skiff

Musto Performance Skiff Class Secretary Paul Manning & Class Measurer Chris Henderson were both "Games Makers" at Weymouth for the Olympics Bookmark and Share

Photos and report by Paul Manning and Chris Henderson

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Most of you know Paul as the Musto Skiff Class Secretary and UK Ovington dealer who helps make the class run smoothly and supports the fleet at class events. Prior to this Paul has a long history in the sport and part of that was a phase working for the well know Finn builder Devoti Sailing who originally built Finns in the UK, in Burnham on Crouch. In fact Ben's famous Finn, Rita, was built by Devoti during the time Paul worked for Devoti. Through this background Paul was chosen to be the National Technical Officer for the Finn class at the 2012 Olympic Games at Weymouth; below are his thoughts on being part of the regatta. It is also worth a moment of reflection that without people who administer the sport there would be no sport; Paul was one of the 70,000 "Games makers" that were a critical part of making the 2012 Olympics what they were.

Also below is the report by Chris Henderson, Chris is the Musto Skiff class measurer and was the International technical Officer for the Elliot 6m at the games.

Memories from Weymouth and Portland by Paul Manning

After 4 years of taking part in the Weymouth and Portland Sail for Gold series as an equipment inspector, I received confirmation from the organising authority (LOCOG) that I had been selected as the NTO (National Technical Officer) for the Finn class. As I did, you quickly realise that abbreviations are one of the favorite topics for the IOC, sorry, International Olympic Committee and in our team plenty of us LOL on numerous occasions and even used LASERSÖ

The real build up to the event took place from 30th July to 14th August last summer. This was the Pre-Olympicsí, where all the plans were put into practice to test every detail of every area. This event was not just for the sailors to race at the venue, in fact they had that opportunity on numerous occasions. It was more to test the race management both afloat and ashore, to ensure the radio communications worked and that the layout of the venue was functional.

A great deal was learned from this event and from my point the most important was not to have kidney stones at the same time and miss the whole thingÖ it was unbelievably painful and apparently everyone coped just fine without me!

On the 18th February this year I went to Wembley Arena for an induction chat and general meeting along with around 15000 other event helpers from all different sports. We were given our ĎGames Maker Workbooksí and listened to some interesting statistics and details of what had happened to date and what the plan was in the last few months.

For me, the event itself started well before the opening ceremony. I arrived on the 21st July and immediately collected by uniform and accreditation. To give you an idea of how early weíd arrived, I was number 50 of however many hundreds of staff ended up on site. The whole of Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy was now nothing like what you may remember, but we were given excellent location maps to help from getting lost and the whole experience of getting started was very easy.

I met up with Ken Kershaw and Cat Ferguson on the bus from the hotel to the venue. Ken was in charge of ensuring all the equipment inspection facilities were set up as required by each class and had spent a considerable amount of time planning and negotiating to ensure everything was correct. Cat was the office manager, in charge of ensuring all the bureaucracy was correctly processed. We were joined by a small band of SSVís (event helpers to you and me) and this merry band set to work under the direction of Ken setting up all the work stations, tables, scales etc that each fleet required in three well positioned permanent buildings with large roller front doors.

As the classes start their racing at different times, the plan was to process the first to race first, and then change the layout around where necessary for the next class. This worked really well thanks to Kenís planning, although Iím pretty sure he didnít have an hour to himself for two weeksÖ

I had two very helpful SSVís working with me, both Nigel Sign and Steve Witty were experienced sailors and we made a great team. Juri Saraskin, the Finn class chief measurer, was on site to oversee everything and the four of us had a really enjoyable experience.

Work started on Finn measurement on the 24th July at 09:00, but we were faced with our first minor glitch when the first competitor didnít show up! This might sound unbelievable, but the pressure put upon these competitors and their support staff is huge and it was not unusual to see people forget the most obvious things due to this. In fact we had been asked at out introduction to be as polite as possible to the competitors and not to engage in chatting with them unless they spoke to us first; it was obvious why as different personalities cope in different ways. Iím smiling as I write this thinking of Usain Bolt chatting to the young lady and young man immediately prior to the 200m start. They both looked petrifiedÖ

Anyway, we found our lost sailor and the 2 ½ days of Finn measurement flew past with little problem.

The image on the right shows us swing testing a Finn.

 

As the first fleets to race, the Finnís and Starís were out first for their practice race too. We used this as an opportunity to test our equipment and check out the race courses, as well as understanding the navigation controls in place for coming in and out of the harbour and what to do if racing is taking place etc. This all worked really well and the details were fed back to everyone else ashore.

The first days racing dawned bright and sunny, with a good wind and Juri and I headed out to the Nothe race course with the Finnís. It was quite a spectacle with thousands of people enjoying the weather in expectation of the first Olympic class races lining every rock along the shore and on the grassy bank behind. They had a massive video screen and commentary as well as the two fleets to watch. I had a quick count up and there were 74 support boats, course boats and technical boats on the race area, as well as numerous yachts and motorboats etc stationed just outside the exclusion zone, plus two helicopters and security boats.

The race got away on time and Juri wanted to check the boats as they went up the course for the first time, so we followed close behind along with the two jury boats. We stopped at the windward mark and Juri said I wonder how the leaders are doing as they reached the leeward mark. There was no need to ask as the shoreside commentator sparked up and a huge cheer erupted as Ben Ainslie had made up a few places on the downwind leg.

Below image is the start with 1s to go as shown on the clock ...

There were press boats and camera boats everywhere, but the whole process was very carefully controlled by marshals who did an excellent job of keeping overly keen press boats away from the racing, but allowing them close enough or getting them into good positions for what was wanted.

We regularly had 2 helicopters overhead as well as a couple of high speed catamaran motor boats all mounted with gyro stabilised cameras. Iím sure you saw the footage from these, which at times appeared to be taken by boats very close to the racing. However, to give you an idea of the power of these cameras, I donít think these boats ever got closer than 200-300m from the closest boat racing, although Iím pretty sure the helicopters did. Although the skill of the pilots was amazing as it was as though helicopters donít produce down draft as I never saw any!

Iím sure some of you watched as much of the racing as time allowed, and Iím also sure others had little time or opportunity to do so.

Iím not going to go into the racing, as that was covered pretty thoroughly by the press. However, for those of you who are interested, the whole event is quite a surreal experience. You feel completely excluded from the rest of the world with all the daily security, but most especially due to the total exclusion of advertising and other experiences we have thrown at us on a daily basis. Iíve heard people calling the event like living in a bubble Ė it isÖ

Memories from Weymouth and Portland by Chris Henderson

Over the last five years, Paul and I have followed a very similar path working as assistant measurers at SAIL FOR GOLD plus the odd Youth Nationals to get further experience in measuring. Following the 2011 Sail for Gold, I was asked if I would take the role of NTO for the Elliott Match Racing for the Test event, but dropping back to an SSV for the Games. This I accepted, as I wanted to just be part of the Games. I arrived at the Test Event and found we had a few problems with the boats with fittings failing and other things not being quite right, and so set about sorting out the problems. The Test Event then went to plan, but due to the problems found, ISAF asked me if I would consider taking the post of ITO ( International Technical Officer) for the Games. I was happy to do this and the wheels were put into motion , with the added bonus, that if the IOC accepted me as an ITO, I would get to go to Perth at Christmas to the ISAF Worlds.

This was not to be, as the IOC turned me down as I was British, and all ITOís are meant to be from other country's to oversee that the British are doing a fair job of running the event. At this point, I had resigned myself to being an SSV but was still happy to help. The Worlds came and went, and then during the first week of January, I had a call from ISAF saying that there had been further problems at the Worlds and the IOC had reconsidered my position and were happy for me to take up the post of ITO for the Elliott's if I still wanted it. Silly Question!

I had very little other contact until about May when emails asking about clothing sizes and arrival dates started coming through. I filled in the forms and sent them back and waited.

My arrival date was sent as the 24th July leaving again on the 13th August so nearly three weeks as the Match racing runís for the whole of the Games. My first big surprise was getting the invitation to the Opening ceremony at the Olympic Park in Stratford. This was a dream come true.
The Opening was out of this World and having caught the coach back to Weymouth, arriving after 3am, we had to start what was to be a very long two weeks racing which all went well with no major issues with the boats, only the people who own them, but that is another story.

Racing finished on the Saturday, but then the Russian team put in a protest which if they had won, would mean running the semi finals again on the Sunday. Luckily this did not happen and again I was totally shocked to be asked to the closing ceremony in Stratford which was again out of this World.
All I can say is that it truly was a once in a lifetime experience which I am so proud to have been a part off along with the 70,000 other volunteers who all worked so hard to make it all happen.
Thanks ISAF


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