Rio Olympics 2016: Kiwi sailors ready for roller coaster ride

The unpredictable conditions in Rio de Janeiro are expected to pose a big challenge to New Zealand Olympic sailors over the coming weeks. Photo / Getty Images
The unpredictable conditions in Rio de Janeiro are expected to pose a big challenge to New Zealand Olympic sailors over the coming weeks. Photo / Getty Images

It seems Rio's Olympic sailing venue is as breathtaking, unpredictable and frustrating as the city itself.

Talk to any of the 12 Kiwi sailors and you'll get the same assessment of Guanabara Bay.

They don't care about the pollution. They can deal with any debris.

But when it comes to wind, waves and tides, they have no idea what they're going to get.

London 2012 women's 470 champions Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie echo the sentiment of the six other Kiwi crews.

They say it's pointless getting worked up if conditions change to their detriment and ruin a race plan.

"I don't think it's completely fickle here, it's just really challenging," Aleh said.

"Personally, I hope we'll get a range of conditions.

"That'll bring out the teams who keep learning and keep pushing through when things get tough."

Aleh should get her wish, with four of the regatta courses located inside the bay, where breezes bounce around the mountainous topography.

Three other courses are outside, in the Atlantic Ocean, where the waves can play havoc.

Laser sailor Sam Meech is the first Kiwi away on Tuesday followed by Finn hopeful Josh Junior a day later.

Powrie and Aleh begin their title defence on Thursday, along with men's 470 counterparts Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox and the Nacra 17 pairing of Jason Saunders and Gemma Jones, who are contesting a new Olympic class.

Gold medal favourites Peter Burling and Blair Tuke puff out their 49er sails on Saturday, as do former women's 49erFX world champions Alex Maloney and Molly Meech.

Each class comprises 10 or 12 races, with just one worst result excluded. The top-10 boats advance to a double-point medal race.

Meech relished his early start and says his build-up couldn't have been better, having spent significant time preparing in Rio over the last three years.

He is enjoying the camaraderie of the tight Kiwi team, who are all telling him the same thing.

"The key out here, as always with sailing, is just being consistent. And not getting too nervous."

- AAP

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