Josh Turiel Reports Live from 2024

[Keeping with Olympic Week here at the Clam, today’s Guest Blogger is Salem City Councilor Josh Turiel]

In hindsight, sure it seemed like a really good idea to hold the sailing events in Marblehead. After all, some of America’s most famed regattas are held each year in these waters. But we probably should have thought harder about the scalability of the Marblehead Harbor area and the fact that THERE’S NOPLACE AT ALL TO PARK AND THE ONLY WAY TO WATCH THE BOATS IS FROM YOUR OWN BOAT.

I mean, how were we to know that the Wicked Tuna cast, with no fish left in the ocean to catch, would instead try and operate booze cruises for would-be spectators? Who’d have expected the Hard Merchandise to sink AGAIN, but this time in the middle of the course? Shouldn’t wreck avoidance be a skill you need to display, anyhow? Nobody really anticipated this happening.

And it’s really not anyone’s fault that the sewage line between Marblehead and Salem never quite got repaired right. It’s just too bad that the crew of the winning Laser Radial class yacht had to get tetanus shots after their victory leaps into the ocean. But hey, all the people watching that finish from Salem’s Winter Island and Hawthorne Cove Marina really enjoyed the spectacle. None of us thought a person could jump out of the ocean like a porpoise, but they proved us wrong.

Some things went very smoothly, though. It was really great that the folks up in Gloucester were willing to postpone Fiesta in order to sync up with the Olympics. Not only were we able to use the Greasy Pole as a very convenient landmark for the longest open water sailing events (giving us a reason to get some of the traffic out of Marblehead Harbor), but including Drunken 2AM Combat as an exhibition sport gave us not only our first local gold medal won by Shaw’s bagger and deckhand Justin Vergapalooza, Jr. – and I think it was the first step towards bringing MMA to the Olympics down the road. At the same time, perhaps Skee-Ball has a future in 2028?

In the end, though, the most amazing thing about the Olympic yachting events was that they were able to hold them at all. Given our roads and cabling infrastructure, most of us were sure that the boats would all get stuck by the time they were hauled off the Lynnway. Kudos to event planners for spending the $1.3 billion to bury the utility wires in Swampscott and Marblehead. We never would have gotten there without your sacrifice.

And it was fortunate that only a handful of sailors were stranded on Tinkers Island. Those tide charts can be finicky. Good thing there weren’t more strandings – the island has no plumbing.

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