July 28, 2012 / 11:20 PM / in 6 years

Battle of the winds bodes well for Olympic sailors

WEYMOUTH, England (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, the English seaside town that along with its near neighbor 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 the UK and Brazil, and captured some of the carnival atmosphere more normally associated with 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, who was 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.

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 has been stationed off the coast and 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 that the breezes will be fair for the Olympic sailing hopefuls who for the next two weeks will be fighting their own battles with the winds, and each other.

Editing by Justin Palmer

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