Dr. Jo Hannafin measuring the conditions with a Wet Bulb Globe
There is no question that it has been hot in Sarasota. One look at the athletes, staff and volunteers on the World Rowing Championships venue inside Nathan Benderson Park tells that story. They are soaked in sweat.
Not to FISA staff doctor Jo Hannafin. It's not that she doesn't agree that racing under a blazing sun and in temperatures that range between high the 80s and mid 90s and with humidity levels that start the day just as high - 93 percent Thursday morning at dawn, for example - isn't difficult, and sometimes 'hot' just doesn't cover how it feels.
But Dr. Hannafin keeps a close eye and a Wet Bulb Globe Temperature monitor on things, just to make sure it's safe for athletes to be racing 2000-meters at full pressure for sometimes over 10 minutes one it comes to the para athletes. And the surprising thing is - it hasn't been close enough to dangerous to call off the racing since the regatta started Sunday.
Every day, several times a day, Hannafin leaves the FISA office in the mutli-storied finish line tower and walks out onto a small recovery dock and holds her device a few inches above the water to see what the Wet Bulb says.
"It's called a heat stress monitor and it allows us to measure the ambient temperature and humidity," Hannafin explained Wednesday. The device measures the temperature of the air and the amount of moisture it is mixing with and comes up with a Wet Bulb reading.
Just before noon on Wednesday the ambient temperature on land right was 91.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity level was humidity 67.4. Together that measured 87. 3 on the Wet Globe.
Just fine for racing! Wet Globe measurements need to hit 90.5 to warrant a 'cease racing' ruling. "We haven't hit that yet," Hannafin said. It got to 89 one day, but that was it.
Still, no one, especially Dr. Hanafin, would disagree it is hot. Especially in the athlete village. "The athlete's village is probably 5 degrees to 7 degree hotter because of all the tents and the reflection off of the sand and the dirt, so it's much hotter.
"So, we're trying to convince all the athletes to wear hats and to go by the humidity monitors and all that sort of stuff," she said.
So, what is it like racing in these conditions. Hot in the warm ups, out of mind during the racing, and then hot again.
"In the warmup, I was thinking about how hot it was. But once we were racing, I was just thinking about getting to the finish line, but of course I was sweating probably more than usual," said US athlete Kendall Chase, who had just finished racing Wednesday, while sitting in the very popular ice baths in the athlete village.
"As soon as you finish, you realize how hot it is and how much you've sweated out and how dehydrated you are," added teammate Erin Reelick. "During the race, you don't notice it too much."
Any way to keep cool