Brazil's sailors say Rio water worries overblown

Wed Jun 22, 2016 6:37pm EDT
 
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By Jeb Blount

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The last thing members of Brazil's Olympic sailing team want to talk about is the water.

Presented to the international press as a team for the first time on Wednesday, the sailors were buffeted with questions about drug-resistant superbacteria and dangerous viruses found at Rio de Janeiro's Olympic water-sports venues.

Most of the 15 sailors tried to redirect the conversation to talk about building on Brazil's impressive sailing history, and how to win on courses that may offer the most challenging combination of winds, currents and wave conditions ever at an Olympics.

"For us (the pollution) is not an issue," said Martine Grael, skipper for Brazil in the 49erFX two-woman skiff.

She is considered one of Brazil's best medal hopes. With crewmate Kahena Kunze, Grael won the 49erFX World Championship in 2014 and was fifth in 2016.

"We're focused on not making sailing mistakes," Grael said. "This is one of the toughest venues in the world."

Courses inside the bay are subject to shifty winds and strong and varying tides and currents. Courses outside of the bay on the Atlantic Ocean have steadier winds but often come with high waves.

"To win a medal here you have to be a complete sailor," said Robert Scheidt, who will represent Brazil at the Olympics for the sixth time. "You have to be able to sail in a wide range of conditions."   Continued...

 
Brazilian Olympic team sailors Marco Grael and Gabriel Borges sail their 49er sailing class during a training session in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 22, 2016. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes