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De Vries attends test event for Olympics

page44cSIMPSON BAY—International Judge David de Vries recently returned from a sailing test event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in preparation for the 2016 Olympics.
  St. Maarten resident de Vries is one of many judges from around the world hoping to be selected for the Olympics.
  “There were a lot of top sailors there training, and the nice thing about the test event is that you don’t have that intense media pressure watching you as it would be for the real thing so in that respect it was a more relaxing atmosphere to work in,” said de Vries.
  He said indeed there is an issue with water quality as reported in the international news but it is difficult to judge how bad it is.
  “I didn’t see much rubbish floating on the water but if it rains you are going to get that run-off going into the water, and whatever goes in with it. Inside the marina it was a bit smelly. They said there are some sewage issues in the marina and they are dealing with it. Everyone was nervous about it and even some of the judges were washing their hands with disinfectant every five minutes. There was a report of a 49er team that went back to Germany with some infections.
  “But for everything else the venue is fabulous,” he added. “You have this wonderful back drop of the Sugar Loaf Mountain and the statue of Christ. The sailing outside in the ocean is fine; it’s just a problem in the harbour at the moment. The water was beautiful but when I was there, there was more wind inside than outside so they moved the courses inside.
   “I enjoyed it. The whole venue is in the middle of spectacular Rio with lively entertainment, bars, music, good food, everything that you would expect and a complete contrast to the London Olympics where the sailing events were held in Weymouth, Dorset. For me, that was like stepping back in time 20 years.”
  According to de Vries, the international sailing federation (ISAF) will look for another location for the sailing if nothing is done about the water quality.
  As far as the ISAF selection process is concerned de Vries said normally one judge from each country is selected based on experience and various criteria.
  “For me I have a good chance to be selected for my region. There is Cor van Aanholt of course but his daughter is sailing in the Olympics. Then there are judges in Bermuda, Mexico, so I have to wait and see.”