2008 Olympic Regatta - Medal Race - Tornado. Will the move to strict one design satisfy the ISAF?
A letter put out under the name of the International Tornado Association (ITA) has been forwarded to Sail-World. It reads:
The structure of the Tornado class has gone through many changes over the past 11 months. The Tornado Class/Multihull community became to complacent believing that multihull was safe and would always be part of the Olympic program, this lead to a major shock to us all at the 2007 Annual ISAF meeting in November.
There has been a lot of work done to overturn this decision. It was decided that the ITA needed a fresh new look and a more hands on approach within ISAF. At the 2008 ITA AGM in New Zealand in February a new committee was elected based on current high profile sailors within the class to make ourselves more presentable to ISAF and improve the working relationship. The first assignment was the ISAF mid years meeting, where we had a huge mountain to climb, firstly in changing their feeling and perception of our discipline, and to reinstate the class back into the 2012 Olympics.
A very successful job was done on the first part of this mission, and due to the lobbying of ourselves and other multihull enthusiasts we managed to convince ISAF council not to reaffirm their November 2012 Olympic decision on a simple majority. Unfortunately due to ISAF regulations we need a 2/3 majority to change which at this stage was a to bigger hurdle.
At this point it seemed that there was no where left to go, so our efforts turned to putting the multihull back in the picture for 2016 and then hopefully the smallest chance would be left for the 11th medal to be included for 2012. The ITA currently have submissions in for the 2008 November ISAF meeting to overturn the 2012 decision, for formal ISAF submissions to the IOC with regards to the 11th medal, and to secure multihull for the 2016 Olympic Games. The feedback we are getting is that we have gone in the right direction and there is a good chance for the multihull to be included for the future.
During the 2008 Olympic Games information was revealed that discussions were underway within the IOC with regards to a submission submitted by Paul Henderson and supported by ISAF with regards to the 11th medal.
The current situation is that there is no multihull event for 2012. However, we believe the submission to the IOC to maintain the 11th medal for 2012 has gained significant momentum and may be our final shot of seeing a multihull compete in 2012. Hence we need to be prepared.
The ITA has nothing in writing from the ISAF that one design is the way that they would like to proceed however from talks with ISAF members/officials, National member associations with regards to the current perception of the class we have continuously been directed in this direction. The message from ISAF is very clear that we need to move to complete one design. Our class has a negative perception of being a high development class, with equipment advantages. Many of the ISAF believed if we went head to head with Hobie Tiger today we would loose purely as they are seen to be one design and this is not on the cost issue.
Despite there being many arguments fore/against one design. The ITA Committee along with the Tornado Technical Committee have agreed with the sole purpose of maintaining Olympic Status we see no disadvantage of complete one design. The Committees propose the Class moves to complete one design.
Our message needs to be clear and to the point 'Tornado has gone complete one design, it is the high performance multihull version of the 49er without any quality compromise'
There are many reasons for ISAF to want this change;
Increase participation into the sport/class. Easier entry.
Reduce equipment costs - More accessible to remote nations and nation participation. This is very important to ISAF to keep sailing secure in the Olympics.
Eliminate class rule loop holes
Increase youth participation.
Eliminate equipment advantages - Reduced Cost of Campaign will also allow for higher participation.
Level playing field. The best sailing team wins. Sailor against sailor.
Minimise the gap between club racers and professionals
Encourage single cycle Olympic campaigns
There is a lot of support for this to take place. ISAF, MNA’s, Youth sailors, many national sailors and even the vast majority of the Olympic Sailors are keen for this to take place, in order to maintain Olympic status and to increase the popularity of the Tornado.
It is IMPORTANT to point out that the change taking place will have minimal effect on the current Tornado equipment in use and the cost for this change will be very well scrutinised. It will be a strategic change over time with a grandfathering of old equipment. It is also important to realise that this major change will only take place providing we regain Olympic selection for the 2012 Olympics. But in order to put some continued positive pressure on the situation and to ensure we are MOST suitably positioned for the battle for the Olympic spot, we need to inform the world of our intentions to retain our Olympic status.
The ITA Committee