Windsurfer Picon rides the crest of the wave ahead of Rio 2016
The winner of back-to-back RS:X windsurfing test events for Rio 2016, France’s Charline Picon reckons the Olympic venue at Marina da Gloria will test competitors’ skills to the max.
Crowned the world champion in Santander (ESP) in September 2014, French windsurfer Charline Picon is intent on improving on her eighth place finish at London 2012 when she returns to the Olympic arena next summer.
And she has good cause to be confident, having won each of the two test events for the women’s RS:X windsurfing staged at the Olympic venue of Marina da Gloria, situated in Guanabara Bay, in August 2014 and August 2015.
Picon says that the Rio course will be tactically tougher than the one at Weymouth at the London 2012 Games, explaining that the local features in Rio will create new challenges for the competitors: “It does have a big part to play. There’s Sugar Loaf Mountain and the Corcovado, which make the wind unpredictable and make this a very tricky stretch of water.
“You need to have good observational skills. And then there’s that all-important current. You can even get two different currents in the same part of the course. It’s not easy and you have to be able to adapt.”
A comfortable winner in 2014, the Frenchwoman was made to work hard at the latest test event, having gone into the medal race – where points count double – tied for the lead with Poland’s Malgorzata Bialecka and Spain’s Blanca Machon.
However, she managed to keep her rivals behind her, and her fourth place finish in the final was enough for her to win the event with an overall points total of 39: “It’s a pretty dense fleet and the time differences are minimal, which can make things very physical if winds are light,” she explained.
“You have to use all your skills, in all conditions, and not stick to a single strategy. You have to keep your wits about you from one race to the other. The wind keeps changing the whole time and you have to be watchful.”
Situated outside Guanabara Bay, the outer course was used for training at the two Olympic test events but not for actual competition itself. Describing the challenge it poses, Picon said: “The water is very choppy there and there’s a lot of swell and backwash.”
Weymouth’s outer course was used on several occasions at London 2012 and should the same occur at Rio 2016, competitors will need to adapt to the circumstances and bring all their skills to bear.
The stars of RS:X will be back in action at the 2015 ISAF World Championships in Oman in October, an event that will help more than a few countries decide on which athletes to send to Rio 2016, which take place just a few months after the 2016 Worlds in Eilat (ISR).
“The Rio Games will be something else,” adds Picon, looking ahead to the biggest challenge of all. “With Rio as a backdrop, the sailing competitions are going to throw up some fantastic images. There are some great Brazilian sailors in all the events and there’s going to be a huge amount of coverage.
“At long last we’ll also be taking part in the Opening Ceremony, which will be held at the Maracana, which is not far from our competition venue.”