The Agios Kosmas Sailing Centre, located in south-west Athens, was one of the very first event venues to be completed for the Olympic Games in August.
Prior to the Olympic Sailing Competition, it will have already seen use for two test events used in the purpose built shoreside venue.
The site is reclaimed from unused land close to the Agios Kosmas Sports Centre, and is part of a development that has transformed the Athens waterfront in the south-west corner of the historic city. It took four years to build from scratch and was officially completed on 31 January 2004, although events have been held there for the last two years.
The Agios Kosmas Sailing Centre is huge, make no mistake. Over 336 sq metres of land area, plus the same again in terms of marina space, gives an almost desolate feeling when the place is empty, but when the Opening Ceremony comes around on 13 August, the sailing venue will be full with more than 51 national teams, comprising 400 Athletes as well as support staff, coaches, media and officials. In addition, there will be over 60 ISAF race officials including measurers, course representatives, umpires and judges, as well as ISAF Staff, ATHOC staff, timekeepers, the world media; television, photographers, and spectators. The venue will resemble more of a city than a marina for the month of August.
There are no cars allowed in the venue and parking is situated outside the perimeter. Athletes and officials alike will have the facility of bicycles in order to move around between the team boat parks and storage containers, which are stretched completely down the north-east side of the waterfront, to the Athletes lounge, medical centre, Jury offices and measurement tents, and doping control areas on the north-west side of the marina, located next to the entrance to the marina from the sea. The entire athletes area affords a commanding view to the south-west over the four course areas on the Saronic Gulf.
Nine Launching Ramps will be available adjacent to the Boat Parking Area. The ramps total width will be 240m. The boat park will be divided into sections. Each competition boat will be allocated a numbered section, identification tags for trolleys, boats and equipment will facilitate the dedicated army of ATHOC support staff on-hand to assist in the launch and retrieval of boats. When coming ashore, athletes will pass through a mixed zone where they will be able to give interviews, quotes and photographs to accredited media, both before and after racing.
The competition management offices, ISAF Offices, timekeepers, and ATHOC officials are placed at the other end of the boat-park, and have a view of the entire marina and the Saronic Gulf beyond.
Berthing facilities for the Keelboats - Yngling and Star, as well as lifting in and out facilities, are available in the Olympic Marina, along with the armada of official boats, committee boats, jury boats, mark-laying, media and spectator craft.
for a detailed venue plan.
The venue for racing, the Eastern Saronic Gulf, has been host to many major championships over the last few years. Most recently, a little further to the south-east of the waters to be used for the Olympic Sailing Competition, the 49er World Championship and Olympic Qualification Regatta was held from the Nautical Club Katikon Vouliagmenis in Vouliagmeni Bay.
Deceptively known as the field of play, all the course areas are looked over by the high buildings of Athens, juxtaposed with the historical Acropolis in the background. Although racing at the 49er World Championship was charactrized by strong winds, the prospects for August are a little different, further north towards Piraeus.
During the summer, the predominant breeze that blows in this area of the Saronic Gulf, like most Mediterranean breezes, has a name. The north-easterly "Meltemi" blows offshore from Athens and during the 49er World Championship, caused racing to be postponed because of it's ferocity. Further north however, off the Agios Kosmas Sailing Centre, the breeze has a lot more obstacles to get over before it hits the water and as a result, especially during the month of August, the Meltemi has been much lighter, often not getting above 10-12 knots.
Another possibility, the more traditional sea breeze from the south-east, brings slightly cooler air into the race areas, this however, again has not historically brought a huge amount of wind in August. Possibly because Athens is hot - very hot, and there isn't much of a temperature difference between the air over the sea and the air over the land in order to generate the circulation needed for a reliable sea breeze.
The four course areas themselves are located to the South-west of the marina. Course Alpha, dedicated to the Europe and Laser Classes, is the furthest south of the four courses, close to the site of the old airport. To the north of Alpha is Bravo, for the Mistral Men and Women, and the 49er is the closest to the shore and located just off the sea wall of the shoreside venue. To the west of that is course area Charlie, the field of play for the 470 men and women, and the Tornado. The Star, Yngling and Finn Sailors have use of course area Delta, the furthest from the sailing venue and to the north of Charlie.
A spectacular venue and a spectacular race area.