The Olympic Sailing Competition at the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games will be an exciting opportunity to get involved and understanding how safety behind the event works will be essential to its success.
Safety in the Olympic Sailing Competition is currently delivered by three different teams plus the security services.
Race management plays an important role to lead by the bridge, and effectively manage and utilise all resources, human and technical, available to them. This includes the course teams and first responders such as safety boats who must know the difference between someone in distress (injured/damaged) and someone who made a mistake and can recover by themselves (capsize or tangle). Mark layers are often also the eyes and ears for the race officer, monitoring the fleet’s actions and the ever-changing weather conditions.
Medical experts play a critical function. This team will include experts with marine medical training such as divers and paramedics. This team is ultimately responsible for patient evacuation, triage and initial care.
Marshals manage spectators, photographers, coaches and athletes on the courses and racing areas. Damaged craft needing a tow home will be taken care of by marshals. Marshals will also take part in search activities if someone is missing.
World Sailing’s Olympic Manager, Michael Dowling reminds us that “Under the rules, if an athlete communicates with someone outside the race, they could be deemed receiving outside assistance which could mean retiring or face disqualification, so volunteers and officials must know what is going on in any situation from a distance without asking.”
Michael went on to stress that members of the teams involved in safety at the Olympic Sailing Competition need the right background and experience. “Team members need to know the type of situations that could occur, what is typical behaviour during those situations and what is unusual, and thus how to respond.” Examples given by Michael included:
- A capsized boat that is not drifting likely means mast on the bottom
- How many crew should be visible and where they need to be to right a capsize
- How a sail is lowered for repairs versus falling
- International signals of distress versus waving people away
- What is a coach making repairs versus a coach that needs assistance
Another area were volunteers and safety crossover is the launching and retrieval of boats – known as the Beach Team working under the Beach Master. Michael acknowledged that “This needs class specific skills and knowledge as well as experience to recognise which athletes need assistance and which are self-sufficient”. This will be become more critical as venues move more into public and temporary spaces that athletes don’t have a lot of experience with.
For information about Brisbane 2032 click here