Sea Level Data at the Olympics

Sailing boats

Sailing relies on accurate tidal data recording

Britain’s triple Olympic sailing gold medallist Ben Ainslie has been quoted as saying:

“When I started sailing as a youngster, trying to qualify for the Olympics at Atlanta in 1996, there was no funding in place at all. When I received the Olympic funding in 1997-98, it effectively gave me an extra £20,000 a year as a top performer. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that sailing and all the Olympic sports would be a lot poorer without that level of investment. Looking at the sport we had then compared to the sport we have now it’s almost unrecognisable: all the physio, support on the water, meteorology and tidal analysis is there because of the cash we get now.”

As part of their preparation for major events, Olympic sailing teams gather detailed information about the local sea conditions (currents and tides), to give them every possible advantage on the day. The custom tidal analyses the teams use require quality-controlled sea level data.

It would be nice to think that perhaps the NTSLF tide gauge at Weymouth may have helped provide data for the tidal analyses that allowed our athletes to sail to victory.

During the Olympics, the Met Office are generating daily forecasts of tidal information for the race area.