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Roland Gaebler talks Tornado entries for Mixed Multihull Trials

by Andrew Dowley on 23 Feb 2012
’Exploder Tornado’ Martina Barnet
Tornado President Roland Gaebler was interviewed by Martin from Cat Sailing News on the Tornado entries for the upcoming Mixed Multihull Trials.

The Olympics trials are coming, tell us about your proposal for Santander.

The ITA are sending the One Design Marstrom and One Design Exploder Tornado, both boats will be using our Olympic and World Championship winning, Ullman One Design Sails.

The Tornado stands for strict One Design and the highest quality. Roman Hagara sailed three Olympic Games with the same boat winning two Gold medals, an Olympic equipment record. We are sending used boats to the trials, because we want to show how good the quality is.

The price of these boats will be €25,900for the Marstrom and €15,900 for the Exploder, this price is for a ready to sail boat with Carbon Mast and a set of Ullman One Design Sails.

Over multiple Olympic cycles the Tornado platform has proved to be excellent value for MNA’s and sailors compared toother Olympic classes. However sail development costs have been huge, deterring new teams.

ITA addressed these concerns, striking a great deal for the class with Ullman sails in 2009. Now a full suit costs just €2,450 ex tax/delivery. (fixed for 4years) These designs represent more than a decade of evolution by teams who now apply their knowledge in Americas Cup,VX40, The Volvo Ocean race, F18 and F16. It's been fantastic to offer the best engines available to all of our sailors at prices which other classes struggle to touch.

The ITA understand this is especially important in the current economic climate.

The new ITA committee has a broad range of people and skills, who have learned from ITA’s past mistakes. We are keen to be fair and open with the ISAF and want to regain and retain their trust as an organisation that they can work with for Olympic sport. We recognise that we need to spend time committing to the ISAF process for the good of the Tornado and multihull sailing.

Any other alternative? Some rumours on a updated T....

There may be rumours but we are extremely happy with our boat, it is available across the World and the sailors love the boat how it is. Yes, some people may think the hulls look a little outdated but the fact is it is one the most hi-tech rigs which has been developed on top of the platform.

If the class was to be selected as the Olympic Multihull I am sure we will be looking at how we can evolve and improve the boat, maybe by developing the hulls underneath the current rig.

The important thing we have to remember is that we are a Class Association, we are not run by a manufacturer, everything we do needs to respect and support our sailors, whether they be Olympic sailors or weekend sailors.


For now, the Tornado Fleets are growing again across the World with great events for amateurs and professionals. The Tornado is a well known brand in Multihull Sailing and we want to use the excellent image into the future. We want to push forward our strengths and not sail with designs which are not yet 100% proven. The Olympic Games, MNAs and sailors do not need any surprises. We have quality everyone can trust.

Currently some sailors in other Olympic Classes choose to buy six boats in one four year Olympic Campaign. Now more than ever with the World recession, we understandthat MNA’s need affordability. We believe that over the Olympic cycle theTornado has proved to offer the best value for money, beyond that of manyexisting Olympic classes.

You are on a campaign to elevate weight minimum, which was the average weight on past Tornado Olympics?

It was between 130 and 170kg. In Qingdao we had many teams below 140kg. They made crazy diets to perform better in light winds. Also me, I went down from my average 83kg down to 73kg to be faster in light winds in Athens, Savannah and Busan. This made me very ill. In my opinion if we take a smaller boat for 2016, we may see cases of bulimia. We believe making yourself ill to be quicker is not the way to go, we would rather see more power in the sails.

What would happen if after Rio, 'Open' is back , we will need to change boat again?

This depends on the boat chosen, if a smaller boat is chosen then it is more likely, nobody knows at this stage.

How is the T class doing? You think sailors are looking for more modern options like F20c , is possible to create a new competitive 20' class ?

The Tornado is still one of the fastest cats and we see ourselves as the competitive 20' class. In Texel 2011 the Tornado with a new youngster at the helm with Team McDonald's (BEL) was just some minutes behind the new Nacra Carbon 20 after three hours of racing.

If sailors want to sail at World and European championships they can't pick an F20, the class structure and events are not there.

Have you sailed an F16? If so , how was it?

Yes we did. I had the feeling I was back on a much smaller boat, personally it was just too small for us. We felt we were always about to front loop in the big waves. Maybe we sailed on the wrong boat but this was our impression. It will be great to see how the boats perform against each other in Santander at the evaluations.

The F18 is the most competitive and popular performance cat class, how do you see its future?

Great racing everywhere. Okay, it has an old fashion Aluminum mast and is heavier than a Tornado but the big fleets around the world show the class is on the right track and the dealers are also pushing the class to the top. I think the F18 and A cat will be the biggest fleets in the future.

How do you see the future of cat racing and the AC ?

The AC are at the top and hopefully a real flyer will come for the Olympics which will also promote our sport in the best possible way between all the other great classes. The multihull market will increase also in the leisure racing and sailing. It’s a win win situation for all of us. More boats. More jobs. More fun.

The AC is the new undisputed F1 of the Multihull world and we are excited to see where they will lead our sport in the future. They really have been a media success and we have many lessons to learn from them, maybe we will see a trickledown effect into Olympic multihull sailing as they prove new technical concepts and media promotion.

It is also great for us as a class to see so many previous Tornado sailors taking part in the campaigns.

If the T is not selected, which is your next option?

For me the new Nacra 17 looks good, compliments to Nacra for coming up with such a boat at the right moment. So far this is my second favourite after Tornado but my only concern is that there has not yet been much testing on the water, let's wait and see!


You will compete if an F16 is selected?

No, personally this boat is far too small for us. We also believe that more than 50% of the actual mixed teams will also not sail F16 because they weight more than 140kg. It is really an excellent boat for the national and club youth programs, ISAF Youth Worlds and Youth Olympics. But I believe not for fully grown muscular female and male athletes. The Olympics should be a real sporting challenge for Olympic Athletes.

I believe that 16 foot Cats are for the Youth, 18 foot is great for the leisure racing and 20 foot for the Olympics. This system has worked in harmony for the last few decades. This is the perfect configuration in cat sailing so why destroy this?

You are in a weight minimum campaign, tell us in your opinion how this affect to performance on smaller cats

It’s very simple. If you are too heavy, you have no chance between three and 12 knots of Wind in a small cat. The 'ultra-lights' will win the races and the Olympic Medals. If we looked to the majority of Olympic Classes for 2016 (470, skiff, windsurfing) we already have mostly boats for light sailors. We do not need another one.

I agree with you that pushing for allow min weight is not that healthy, and I think even the F16 can stand a wider range, so I don´t get why the 140kg limit- you've made a report on this, which were the results?

We are unsure the reasoning behind the ISAF evaluation team making the 120-140kg target. A man above 80kg can only sail a Finn or stop his Olympic Dream. Same way the average weight of a Man/Olympic Male Athlete is 81kg.

If you look to the light wind scenario in Rio de Janeiro, we may end up with teams up to 110kg if we use a smaller boat with less sail area.

Nahid, my wife asked many mixed teams inF18, F20, Tornado and other classes about their weights and more than 70% are over the 140kg.

We should have a higher minimum weight to represent real world athletes.

Final thoughts on the Trials and out comings?

We can't wait!

We feel that it is bad that the new Hi TechF18s have stopped their campaigns, we are unsure why, maybe you know more Martin? We would have loved to see more boats there!

As the only class association lead boat at the trials, we feel that we are strongly positioned to offer great value as we don’t have a profit motive. Just a motive to offer spectacular ‘Olympic ring’ winning races for the public, media and IOC.

It is nice to see that the AC45s are upgrading their wings with more sail area to deliver more performance in light winds for media, spectators and sponsors. The forecast for Rio de Janeiro and the summer Olympics is mostly light winds. We are surprised the bigger boats didn't come along to the trials.

We believe that a new boat will change nothing. We must change the racing system. To get more nations we need supplied boats for ISAF World Cup Events, World- and Continental Champs and Olympics. That’s why the Laser is so successful. This system can also work for Olympic Multihull Sailing.

To get the media, spectators and sponsors we need a real flyer, let Multihull win the media award again!

The decision is now with the MNAs and evaluation teams to decide what they want. Already the MNAs have lost the Star and the Elliots. Maybe they need new surfboards too. Imagine how much money they have lost in this period. Now they must decide if they want the same scenario in Multihull with a new class or take the proven boats and quality we have.

Many nations still have Tornado's sitting and waiting, they would have no expense.

Bakewell-White Yacht DesignPredictWind.comZhik ZKG 660x82

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