by Rob Kothe
Spain's Fernando Echavarri and Anton Paz won gold in the Tornado class today on Fushan Bay, Qingdao China.
Qingdao Olympic Regatta 2008. Tornado gold medallists, Echavarri and Paz (ESP).
Australia's Darren Bundock and Glenn Ashby won silver and Argentina's Santiago Lange and Carlos Espinola took the bronze.
The Spanish duo, led their Australian rivals by three points going into the medal race and beat them round the course today with a fourth place ahead of Bundock and Ashby fifth, was enough to take gold.
'After 10 years of sailing in this class, we finally got out first Olympic medal,' said Echavarri.
'We've been winning championships and regattas, but this is the most important win of them all. We feel like we were the luckiest ones here. '
Bundock, the Sydney 2000 silver medallist was generous in his praise of the Spanish sailors. ‘They sailed a mistake free regatta and they deserved to win.
‘We had a disasterous start to the medal race and that cost us dearly. Most of the fleet was heading right on a port hand start, but when the Greek boat came through on starboard, we had to do a big bear away. While I eased the main, I flicked off the traveller by accident and so we were dead in the water when the gun went.'
‘We had no choice but try something different we went left, looking for a shift to get us back into the race and that was always going to be unlikely.
2008 Olympic Regatta - Medal Race - Tornado
'It got worse, we broke our mast rotation arm on that first beat., that meant the mast went sideways, causing drag, that's okay in 5 knots or under. But it was really breezy out there and so we were slow. .'
‘We had a fantastic first run we made up more places, but we were just holding on the second beat slow again. We just got through the Argentinians and that put us back into silver medal spot, but that is all we could do.’
Qingdao Olympic Regatta 2008. Tornado medal race. Lange and Espinola (ARG).
Santiago Lange (ARG) 'We are very happy about our Bronze medal. We won the 2004 Worlds in Spain, but conditions were harder here, so any medal would do for us.
An interesting comment from Mitch Booth, he did not have as great start to the regatta but came home well.
‘This was my fourth Olympics and we had more breeze here than any of the others, Savannah, Sydney, Athens and Qingdao.’
The Qingdao regatta was the last Games for the Tornado class, if the International sailing peak body has its way.
In spite of fierce protests from the sailing community, the Tornado multihull, an Olympic boat since 1976, and certainly the most spectacular of the Olympic fleet, was voted out of the London 2012 schedule by ISAF.
The British hosts are very keen to have the Tornadoes in the fleet, but it seems that is only going to happen if a well known Olympic Finn sailor, Jacque Rogge agrees to allow the existing 11 classes to compete in Weymouth.