Strong winds throw rowing into disarray, second day postponed

5:07 am on 8 August 2016

Rio 2016 Olympics - Organisers have called off the second day rowing at the Rio Olympics because of rough conditions.

It was the second day of difficult conditions; on the opening programme on Saturday one boat capsized and several others were nearly swamped.

New Zealand's Robert Manson and Christopher Harris compete against an Azerbaijan pair in the men's double sculls on 6 August.

New Zealand's Robert Manson and Christopher Harris on the water with an Azerbaijan pair in the men's double sculls at the weekend. Photo: AFP

New Zealand was among a number of nations to complain that the racing on the opening day should have been postponed. New Zealand chef de mission Rob Waddell, a former Olympic rowing champion, said at the time it was obvious the conditions warranted some action.

Two New Zealand crews - Rebecca Scown and Genevieve Behrent in the women's pair and Julia Edward and Sophie MacKenzie in the lightweight women's double sculls - were scheduled to compete in heats this morning.

World Rowing will discuss the plan for rescheduling races later today - with the possibility that some quarter-finals may be cancelled and the best placed rowers from heats going straight to semi-finals.

High winds gusting across the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon forced the postonement, and by mid-morning, white waves were rippling across the water and palm trees on the shore were bending.

"Racing is postponed and will not take place today due to technical installation difficulties caused by the strong winds and the forecast for the afternoon which indicates adverse weather conditions," an official communique said after the start of the schedule was twice put back an hour.

The International Rowing Federation (FISA) said the rough weather had affected the buoy system which marks the course.

British team leader David Tanner said he absolutely supported the decision. "We definitely, definitely shouldn't be racing in these conditions," he said.

FISA had rejected criticism of its decision to go ahead with Saturday's races, saying the conditions were the same for all the rowers. Sunday's postponement is likely to throw the tight schedule into disarray and the weather is expected to worsen over Monday and Tuesday, when more races are scheduled.

South African rower Kate Christowitz said officials were correct to call off the races.

"It's organised chaos and they've made the right decision. We'll be back tomorrow," she told Reuters.

Safety should come first, she said.

"You can't do anything about it. You just have to laugh it off."

Britain's Tanner said the winds were blowing right across the course during practice.

"It was lifting boats onto the waves and some were on the buoys," he said.

British pair Heather Stanning and Helen Glover, unbeaten on the international stage since 2011 and defending the gold medal they won in 2012, were among those who had been scheduled to compete on Sunday.

Asked how it affected the team, Tanner said. "We'll be resilient. We will handle it best. We'll be ready to race when we can."

- RNZ / Reuters

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