RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - High winds again forced the Olympic rowing regatta to be called off on Wednesday, with waves crashing over boats in the early morning training session on the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon.
The day had been due to deliver the first medals of the competition with the finals of the women’s quadruple sculls and the men’s quadruple sculls.
These will now be run on Thursday – weather permitting – along with the next four finals, World Rowing Federation (FISA) executive director Matt Smith said.
A total of 22 races, most of them semi-finals, had been due to take place and a revised schedule has been drawn up with the programme expanding into the afternoon.
“The forecast for tomorrow is for less strong winds so we are reasonably optimistic,” Smith said. “Everyone has been informed to be ready to race.”
The rowing competition has been dogged by bad weather. Races on Sunday were scuppered when winds roiled the waters.
Mist shrouded the mountains that flank the lagoon on Wednesday morning and rain fell steadily as winds gusted.
The rain is not necessarily a problem but high winds can make the waves perilous and also play havoc with course markings. At least four boats have capsized in training and competition so far.
Britain’s Olivia Carnegie-Brown, who rows in the women’s eight, said that in the early morning training session, waves were crashing over their boat.
Smith said the worst affected area was the starting line and first section.
“The first 500 was very, very, bumpy,” he said.
The winds coming through the mountains were sweeping diagonally over the course then switched to blow straight down it. The day’s racing was initially delayed while officials tried to see if the weather would improve.
“We consulted several forecasts and found that the conditions would be more or less the same throughout the day. All were saying the same thing so we decided to postpone the whole day,” Smith said.
Several eagerly-anticipated contests were scheduled for Wednesday in addition to the two finals, notably the lightweight women’s double sculls semi with New Zealand, China and South Africa set to do battle, and the same event for the men, with star crews from South Africa, Norway, Italy and Denmark.
If winds force another postponement on Thursday, there are several options to ensure the regatta makes it to the finishing line. These include scrapping some races, shortening the course, using the afternoons, or going into Sunday, Smith said.
He said he was optimistic that Friday and Saturday would be good days.
Reporting by Angus MacSwan, editing by Ed Osmond and Ken Ferris