Radical sail change blows new life into Tornado racing
by Roland Gaebler on 22 Apr 2010
The International Tornado Association (ITA) has responded to the global downturn and the need to attract sailing's Generation Next to the class by allowing the best, not just the best funded, to race these ultra-fast sailing machines.
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And while it's not often in life the cost of anything goes down, this is exactly what will happen in the world of Tornado sailing.
One of the biggest changes to the sport since the introduction of spinnakers and the double trapeze in 2001 following the Sydney Olympics, the Tornado class has voted to put a ceiling on costs with the introduction of one-design sails in the interest of creating a fairer playing field.
'These are exciting times for the Tornado and for sailing,' said ITA President and former World Champion and Olympic medalist Roland Gaebler from Germany.
'We feel that the Tornado has always been one of the leaders in sailing in terms of promotion, sponsorship and of course, excitement, and we believe this decision again shows we are not only capable of moving with the times, but responding to the times.'
'We feel sailing needs to be pro-active, not just reactive.'
'Consulting research gathered at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 we decided cutting the cost of sails was the best way to reduce costs and we believe it is also in the true spirit of the Olympics to create this cheaper but also more level racing field.'
In another cost-cutting exercise which will do nothing to detract from the high-performance of these speed machines, it has been proposed one-design sails would be provided if the popular and media-friendly craft was accepted back onto the Olympic sailing program.
The class is intent on working overtime to regain Olympic acceptance, hopefully by the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, after being left off the program for the London Olympics in 2012.
'If we get Olympic status back as we are working very hard to do, the one-design sails are fixed by class rules for all major Olympic sailing events from 2013 on,' Gaebler said.
'On top of this, the Tornado class would offer to supply one-design sails for the Olympic Games from 2016 should this exciting catamaran be back on the program.'
'The sails available now draw on some of the best designs seen on the racetrack and include the gennacker design used to win the gold medal at the last Olympics in China.'
'The ITA also believes putting a ceiling on the cost of sails will greatly enhance the Tornado catamarans appeal off the water while doing nothing to compromise its excitement or performance on it.'
A complete set of the new one-design sails from Ullman Sails Italy cost €2.950, including tax. The cost of sails will be fixed for a period of time. Long-lasting but high-quality sail cloth has been used for the mainsail, jib and gennacker.
Designs from this loft, founded by the great sailor Giorgio Zuccoli and now in the hands of the experienced Pablo Soldano, have been used to win world titles, European championships and Olympic medals. The one-design sails available incorporate some of the best aspects of these top performers.
For further information, visit: www.tornado-class.org
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