British sailors ready 'protection package' for Rio

Sat Mar 5, 2016 7:33am EST
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By Alexander Smith

LONDON (Reuters) - Obsessive hand washing, mouthwashes, downing cola after races and popping garlic tablets are just some of the precautions Britain's Olympic sailing team will be taking for the Games in Rio.

With the polluted waters of Guanabara Bay a concern and the Zika virus also a worry, the athletes are taking no chances as they seek to improve on Britain's 2012 home tally of five medals and regain the advantage they lost to Australia.

Giles Scott, who has taken over the men's Finn single-handed class mantle from sailing's most successful Olympian Ben Ainslie, said the focus is on getting as much time on the water as possible in Rio to help conquer the vagaries of complex tides, flukey winds and floating garbage.

However, one of the main concerns for Scott, who will be competing at his first Olympics, and other British sailors is making sure that they avoid getting ill from the water and they have a strict regime to limit the risks.

"(It's) really simple stuff... like bathroom hygiene but all the time. We get that nailed and then we can focus in on the sailing," the 28-year-old, who is world number one in the heavyweight Finn, told Reuters ahead of the RYA Dinghy Show.

Assuming they stay healthy there is then the danger of getting plastic bags and other garbage, which washes into the bay along with the flows of raw sewage, tangled with their boats.

"That is a bit of worry for us, but it is just going to be part of the Rio Olympics unfortunately," said Scott, who is taking a break from Ainslie's America's Cup team to concentrate on the "personal battles" he anticipates at Rio.

Scott is expecting to see strong competition from New Zealand, French, Croatian, Dutch and Slovenian rivals with Britain having a less experienced team than the one that competed in 2012.   Continued...

Britain's Saskia Clark and Hannah Mills sail during the first race of the women's 470 sailing class at the London 2012 Olympic Games in Weymouth and Portland, southern England, August 3, 2012. REUTERS/Pascal Lauener