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Southern Spars - North Technology

ISAF Evaluations - Roland Gaebler's observations

by Roland Gaebler on 27 Mar 2012
2016 Equipment Evaluation - Team Gaebler Martina Barnetova
Roland Gaebler talks about the super sailing in Santander during the ISAF Multihull Evaluation.

The good and bad moments of the Trials: A report from Roland Gaebler


What a great place to sail! Inshore with flat water and tactical challenges. Offshore with real waves and nice surf. The Club made an amazing job. Its one of the best places for sailing we ever saw. Nice facilities, brilliant beaches and snow on the mountains. Purely one of the nicest sailing scenery. Fantastico!

We missed a the strong winds and the big waves to test the material at its the limit. But it was good to have all the sailors feedback about the Tornado. They gave us nice comments - what they liked or not.

We were especially interested in the comments from the women; how they like the sportive challenge of the boat. At the helm no one has any problems to hold the carbon tiller and some of the Ladies won the practice races in front of our self.

In minutes they got familiar with the boat and brought it to max speed in a very short time. They feel the difference and the high quality of the Tornado. The stiffness of the platform which was 11 years old! As crew some said it was easy with the kite and mainsheet, some others said it was too hard to handle the sheet loads. It was great to get this feedback and comments from the sailors. Because for us it’s normal and we have the muscles to handle the loads.

But we think this is exactly the point. If a boat is too easy to handle, it’s not deserves to be at the top sport event of the World. The Olympics are for the very best Athletes and it should be sportive challenges were you should train for. Nahid Gaebler (Tornado crew, 44 years old) is a normal woman with no special fitness training, and she easily handles the sheet loads of the Tornado up to 30knots of wind (check final day World championship 2011).

But…..we listened….. we took the comments from the test sailors very seriously and we are re-thinking what we can do to face the critics. And we found the solutions after asking our technical partners Harken and Ronstan:

We may change the sheetsystem from the gennacker (which is actually direct 1:1 with two automatic ratches) with an extra block and make it 1:2. Also the mainsheet (which is actually 1:8) we can change with only one extra block to 1:12. This way we make it 50% easier on the gennacker sheet and 33% more easy on the mainsheet without having too much extra sheet length. Wait and see our solutions!


Sometimes it needs such a test event to come to new innovations. The comments from sailors who do not sail Multihulls are also very helpful. Also the questions from the ISAF evaluation panel make us think again about what's the point and we are looking for the best solutions to fulfill all the criteria ISAF requires. Sometimes we are too much in our own box, so the evaluation event brought us new friends but also created innovations. Only as a team with the sailors and ISAF we can bring our sport into a new era.

The Tornado was the fastest boat in all winds on all courses. We came up with one of the lowest prices for the boats - so why pay more to sail slower? We presented purely the best price-performance for an Olympic boat. The Tornado is a proven formula for the Olympic Games in all wind and wave conditions and has a top image, with the media and spectators and the next generation on it's side.

We are the only class who made the offer to supply boats for the complete Olympic Circuit (World Cup Series, Worlds and Continentals, Olympics). With our Olympic background we know what we need to do to bring Olympic Sailing to the next level in such hard economic times.

But we experienced some things, we did not like so much. Fernando Leon (Gold Medal 1996) and a Hobie Cat womens (F18 Crew) from Santander as well as myself were not allowed to sail the day with the best wind conditions, because we were too heavy.


The crew weight limit was 140kg. Nahid and I are far away from that. The Spanish legend Fernando Leon and the girl crew who weighed 73kg were not allowed to compete on the best day of the week against the others in a real manufacturers race. Imagine, a girl was stopped sailing because she was too heavy.

No wonder the Spanish were on fire after this happened. But this showed the point where we are now - some weeks before ISAF makes a final decision.

Nahid made an analysis to try to find every mixed team we can in F18s and Tornados.

The Facts are: 83% of the Mixed Teams in the F18 are above 140kg (average is 150.3kg). In Tornado 87% of the Mixed Teams are over 140kg (average 148.3kg). For sure it looks different in the Hobie 16and F16…… but if we count all Multihull Mixed Teams together still get more than 50% over 140kg.

We have many Women and Men from the Laser Class who would really like to sail mixed multihulls for Rio 2016. If ISAF continue the way with the 130kg average target (middle between 120-140kg), they all can give up their Olympic Dreams.

Imagine the Olympic legends Gintare and Robert Scheidt want to start in Brazil in the Mixed Multihull. They are the perfect example for an average size/weight Olympic Athlete (women average 64-66, men average 78-82kg).

Also the Match Race Women and Star class sailors have great interest in Mixed Sailing, after they lost their boat. They can bury their Olympic Campaigns. A man above 80kg can only sail Finn-Dinghy and a Women above 65kg has big problems to find a crew with the actual target from ISAF, which is based on an Asian Submission. But the Asians never turned up in Santander for testing the Multihull. So ISAF followed a wish from Asia and the Asians, who were not here to test the boats.

Sorry, this is a completely wrong move and needs urgent correction before the ISAF conference in May.

I want to say it in very clear words: If we end up in an F16 we will have ultra lightweight teams (around 120kg) in Rio de Janeiro, where we have light wind forecast. This means most of the actual mixed teams can forget the Olympics. This way Mixed Sailing may end in a disaster for our sport in the Olympics.

Also this I like to point out: I am not want bring the Tornado always forward. Take a light F18 (like the Phantom Project or a carbon Wild Cat or any other hi-tec F18) or the new Nacra 17 (which is not far away from an F18).

But please not an F16. These boats are perfect for the Youth Olympics, ISAF Youth Worlds and National Youth programs. This is what I said to Carolijn (Brewer) and Darren (Bundock) one year ago. I said to them we should work together. F16 for the youth - F18 for the big fleets. F20 (Tornado) for the Olympics. But they are on their own mission.

The Olympic Games are the top of Sports. It is the peak for Athletes. It should be a sportive Challenge for every size of women and men and deserves a boat which fits to the Olympic Spirit. Our sport not just needs a boat. We need a new race format which fits perfectly for the media, spectators and sponsors.

Thank you all for the interest and support. We had great sailing in Santander! Team Gaebler website

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