Waves damaged the ramp at the Rio 2016 sailing venue ©Getty Images

The start of the Olympic sailing competition next Monday (August 8) will not be delayed, according to Andy Hunt, chief executive of World Sailing.

This is in spite of damage to the extensive, 50-metre long launch ramp, via which boats were intended to enter the water, serious enough to have required the assistance on Sunday night of two cranes so big that a licence was needed before they could enter the scenic part of the city, adjacent to the famous Sugar Loaf mountain, where the venue is located.

Interviewed on-site by insidethegames, Hunt – who could plainly have done without this latest setback given protracted controversy over the polluted waters of Guanabara Bay – underlined that there was “no danger” of delay to the competition.

He acknowledged, however, that considerable disruption would be caused if the launch ramp were not repaired, and if necessary redesigned to withstand higher pressure, in time.

In such circumstances, a permanent slipway would be used by competitors on the way to their events, but - at 20 metres - this is less than half the size of the installation damaged at the weekend.

“It would be exceptionally difficult, but somehow we would make it happen,” Hunt told insidethegames.

A training session ahead of the Rio 2016 sailing competiton ©Getty Images
A training session ahead of the Rio 2016 sailing competiton ©Getty Images

He indicated that the Organising Committee’s head of venues for this particular cluster had suggested that the work would be completed by Friday (August 5).

One extra flex-day is built into the sailing schedule at Rio 2016, but organisers will want to keep this in hand lest adverse local weather conditions make racing impossible on one of the scheduled competition days. 

In an indication of the high priority being accorded the situation, a meeting is expected to take place this afternoon involving Hunt, the International Olympic Committee’s head of venues, infrastructure and services, Xavier Becker, Rio 2016’s structural expert and the contractors/engineers.

This is expected to provide more visibility on the design of the repair work and the intended schedule for its completion.

Hunt said he had no idea of the cost of the work, adding: “It is a Rio 2016 obligation to deliver it.”

On Monday, with the sun beaming down and temperatures touching the high 20s Centigrade, the water lapping the marina was calm as a millpond, as sailors from Thailand, Portugal, New Zealand, the United States and others worked on their boats in the tranquil boatyard.

Every once in a while, a crew would set off from the smaller slipway, while men in overalls worked on the damaged ramp.

Whatever fresh headaches lie in store before next Monday, the races will look spectacular on television.