Olympic sailor Allan in final training push

| 11/07/2016
CNS Local Life

Florence Allan training in Rio

(CNS): Cayman Islands Olympic sailor Florence Allan, and her coach, Raphael Harvey, have just returned from training in Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro, ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. Allan trained for two weeks learning the local climate patterns, tides and currents to prepare to compete in her first Olympics, which will begin in less than a month.

Roughly 31km long and 28km wide, Guanabara Bay may present some challenges to the new Olympian. “Knowing what we know, I would have loved to start training a year in advance,” Harvey said. “Guanabara Bay is massive. It is a big bay with a large volume of water that comes in and out every day, which means that the tidal current can sometimes be strong, combined with the choppy sea condition; let’s just say sailing becomes more interesting.”

Set to be one of the youngest athletes at the Games, Allan spoke of the challenges she will face. “Training was good but also quite tough,” she said. “The conditions in Rio are different to anything I’ve ever sailed in before, so racing is going to be very challenging.”

Harvey and Allan were able to familiarise themselves with the sailing courses – three in Guanabara Bay and two out in the Atlantic Ocean. Olympic competitors say the diversity of racing areas means the best all-round sailors will top the podium.

“We were able to sail on all of the courses which was good,” Allan said. “I learnt a lot about my boat handling, my technique and what I need to work on for the next couple weeks.”

She trained alongside some of the world’s leading sailors, including a 2012 Olympic silver and bronze medallist and three world champions, and admitted it was quite challenging to keep up with the top competitors.

“Having the chance to sail and train with the other Radial sailors was an eye opener,” Harvey said. “The standard of sailing is really high. I guess that’s why they call it the Olympics.”

Allan and her coach will continue to work on fitness and strength at the Cayman Islands Sailing Club before returning to Rio on 23 July.

“We have several sessions planned for outside the North Sound to work on open-sea sailing,” Harvey said. “If Flo can improve on her fitness level, this should improve her overall boat speed which is 50% of the battle.”

Allan admitted she still has a lot of work to put in over the next couple of weeks, but said she knows on race day she will be more than ready to sail for her country.

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