Take 2 — London Calling
A far-out Olympic venue: Watching sailing in Weymouth
Most of the Olympic Games are being held in the greater London area. With the free travel card that came with every session ticket, a spectator can travel almost seamlessly to the venues using the subway, light rail, and Amtrak-like National Rail. However, there was one event that I attended that was far from London
Weymouth is a summer vacation town located 120 miles southwest of London. This is the venue for sailing. The train ride took nearly three hours, and because the venue was not in greater London, I had to pay the roundtrip fare out of my own pocket.
Weymouth has the look and feel of the Venice, Calif., beach boardwalk – or even Alki Beach with some imagination. There is a long street, the Esplanade, lined with restaurants, gift shops and hotels on one side and the beach on the other. Folks can rent deck chairs for a few pounds a day and sit next to the beach absorbing the sunlight. The expanse of fine sand provides ample space where families can set up chairs, lay out blankets and hang out.
The Weymouth Esplanade
The city of Weymouth was running a fair to coincide with the Olympic Games. A large screen was set up in a park so that folks could watch the Games with others while enjoying food and beverages from vendors.
In order to get to the spectator area for the sailing competition, which is located in a park at the tip of a peninsula, one could either walk around the harbor to get to the base of the peninsula, or one could pay one pound for ferry service. The ferry was very low tech: a row boat that carried about seven people at a time.
The Weymouth harbor ferry
Security was low tech as well. This was the only venue that I visited that did not have X-ray screening (for handbags) or metal-detector screening (for people). A friendly explosive-sniffing dog got to do its thing with the long line of spectators. Once inside the venue, one could watch those competitions that were held near the shore. On this day, they were the laser (single-person) and 49er (two-person) sailboats. There was a large screen set up in the uncovered spectator area and another screen set up in a large tent.
The line to get into the sailing venue, left, and the explosive-sniffing dog
The admission ticket also gave the attendee a one-hour long visit to Nothe Fort, which is at the very end of the peninsula. This fort, built in the 1870s, had interesting displays about military service during the Victorian era and details about defenses against the Germans during World War II and about the D-Day invasion, which was staged in this area. I met a docent, Lawrence Browne, who served as a scout for the British army while stationed in West Germany in the mid-1960s, and he and I spent about a half-hour chatting about tanks, Land Rovers, defense against a Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe ... but not sailing.
After all this, it was a three-hour train ride back to London.