Aug.04, 2014 | UPDATED Jan.24, 2015 | CULTURAL (NO)MORES
2016 Summer Olympics: Sailboats On Fire
Sailors competing in test events in Guanabara Bay for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics have been complaining lately about the water pollution; apparently they have issues with floating sofas and dead canines. What a bunch of wusses! Next thing you know they will be moaning about too much sun, not enough wind or too little rum in their mojitos. Presumambly, the news of a drug-resistant super-bacteria that has been discovered in those same waters will give them another excuse to grumble. Not to mention the Brazilian officials' admission that things won't improve much.
Brazilian officials have of course assured the athletes that the waters are perfectly fine, or more precisely that they meet the required standards and wont pose a health risk. This is a missed opportunity. The organizers, instead of white-washing this peculiarity (where untreated sewage flows directly into the bay and locals have a knack of dumping their trash at sea), should embrace it and use it to their advantage in order to make the sailing races more interesting. Under normal circumstances, watching sailing boats simply sail on television is less than stimulating and there is always a risk of catatonia.
In this respect, the addition of some unexpected challenges sprung on the competing sailing teams along the way will provide both the sailors and the viewers back home with more thrills and excitement. Floating debris, like the aforementioned sofa and deceased dog, is an excellent element of surprise whereby the sailors (on boats or wind-surfs) will need to maneuver to avoid a collision in order not to lose points or drown. Organizers should enhance the bay's natural cornucopia of floating trash with more obstacles like vintage settees, industrial freezers, decommissioned train wagons etc. A good idea would be to dismantle the disgraced Belo Horizonte football stadium and dump the parts into the bay.
Additionally, the organizers should also consider the use of more "interactive" elements like white sharks, oil slicks and naval mines. The sharks, energized by pouring some blood in the water prior to the races, would give wind-surfers in particular a run for their sponsors's money, whereas the mines would have the potential for some spectacular, literally exploding scenes that the television audience would surely appreciate and applaud. To spice things up a bit more, the rules could also allow individual sailing teams to incapacitate their competitors, either by attacking other dinghies with regulation-approved rams or by using archery equipment. The latter provides the exciting opportunity for a new series of Olympics sports that combine sailing, archery and shooting. Other variations can include on-deck fencing and/or boxing, whereby sailors can embark on competitors' vessels to take them out.
And to top it all, falling or being thrown into the water could mean being engulfed by skin-eating super-bacteria.
These kind of events, where the participating teams compete in a hunger-games-type (or Mad-Max-style if you like) sailing races to determine which one makes it to the finish line both faster and alive, would surely attract a wider, younger audience that has been disenfranchised by the staleness of the current conditions.