UPDATE 1-Olympics-Sailing-Battle of the winds bodes well for sailors

WEYMOUTH, England, July 28 Sat Jul 28, 2012 7:55pm EDT

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WEYMOUTH, England, July 28 (Reuters) - A battle for the winds erupted in Weymouth Bay on Saturday as an anarchic troupe of acrobats, actors and dancers fought to banish the doldrums on the eve of the Olympic sailing regatta.

Not to be outdone by London's spectacular opening ceremony on Friday, the English seaside town that along with its near neighbour Portland is hosting the world's best sailors, staged its own extravaganza.

At the end of the 'Battle for the Winds' the waters of Weymouth Bay were set alight as 2,012 people waded into its murky depths holding flaming torches above their heads.

Thousands flocked to the beach to catch the show, which included disabled performers from Britain and Brazil and captured some of the carnival atmosphere more typical of Rio de Janeiro than the cooler waters of England's south coast.

"I doubt we'll ever get a bigger audience than this," said a beaming Jamie Beddard, 45, one of the directors who masterminded the ambitious production.

The winds - north, east, south and west - were represented by local groups clad in a variety of Monty Python-esque costumes and elaborate headgear adorned with wings and whirling blades.

"It's brilliant. We've come all the way down from London to see it," said 32-year-old Kate Andrews who along with adults and children of all ages stood in awe as a mixture of aerobatics and pyrotechnics gripped beachgoers.

The doldrums arrived dramatically from the sea in the form of a grotesquely made-up character brought ashore in a burst of red flares by a group of British marines aboard a launching craft from HMS Bulwark, which is responsible for marine security during the Games.

After a convoluted war between the winds, "Doldrum" is finally defeated and Aeolus, the wind father, is able to proclaim the breezes will be fair for the Olympic hopefuls who for the next two weeks will fight their own battles with the winds, and each other. (Editing by Justin Palmer)

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