Can Greek super-sailors get up to speed on the newest Olympic sailing class in less than a year?
Let’s say you’re two of Greece’s best sailors, with multiple Summer Games medals between you, and a combined 60-plus years of sailboat racing experience. What do you do when a new Olympic class is introduced? The answer should be obvious.
Two of Greece’s most acclaimed sailing athletes, Kostas Trigonis and Sofia Bekatorou, are coming together to reach their next milestone of qualifying for the Rio games next year, in the Nacra 17 class, which is high-octane catamaran racing at its finest.
“It’s a difficult boat to sail because it demands a lot of technique”, explains Trigonis. “It’s not an ordinary catamaran – it’s a semi-foiling boat that goes up to 27 knots heading downwind. That’s really fast for a 5m boat. It’s like an overdosed go-kart!”
The Greek team has also decided on a slightly unusual set-up. For the newly introduced ‘Mixed’ class (meaning boat’s teams consist of one male and one female), most of the top boats have the male crew member as the skipper. In this case however, Trigonis will crew and Bekatorou will steer.
“The rule doesn’t say which needs to be which,” says Trigonis. “We chose this set-up because we believe we will have a big advantage by having me as a crew because I’m stronger than the ladies. We think once we dial-in the technique, we’ll have the advantage and potential to win.”
The team is at a slight disadvantage in that they’re just starting to train, while other top teams have been at it much longer. However, years of racing experience should help them catch up quickly.
So what are they getting ready for in Rio? Everything, says Trigonis, from light whispers of wind to blustery breezes. “We don’t know what we’ll get in Rio, so we have to be ready to sail it all!”
Photos: Alex Grymanis/Red Bull Content Pool