Who's Who at the Tornado Worlds in New Zealand

Leigh McMillan (Helm) and Will Howden

The first race for the 2008 Tornado World Championship will start off Takapuna Beach on Monday. Fifty entries are confirmed, with representatives from 21 different countries coming to North Shore City for this championship which doubles as the final 2008 Olympic qualifier.

With the Olympic Games now just six months away this Tornado fleet is world class and includes a multitude of Olympic and World Champions and medallists. An important lead-up regatta for those on the road to the Qingdao Olympics, the Tornado Worlds has attracted an unprecedented fleet of Olympic multi-hull sailors to New Zealand.

Racing will take place on the waters of the Inner Hauraki Gulf a short distance from Takapuna Beach and the Takapuna Boating Club on Auckland's North Shore., with the crews based at the Takapuna Boating Club.

This championship is the final chance to collect one of the four remaining places for Qingdao. Nine of the nations entered have yet to qualify, including New Zealand, so the battle will be fierce. Austria, Canada, Denmark, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia and Ukraine will join NZL in the fight for those final Olympic places.

Racing proper will start on Monday 25 February after a practice race on Sunday, with the new Tornado champion bring crowned on Saturday 1 March.

Tornado - Sail Auckland - 2008
All the ISAF top 20 ranked crews in the class will be competing. and the well known teams are expected to be to the fore, with Australia's Darren Bundock and Glenn Ashby, the hot pick.

They are on form with a string of recent wins at Sail Melbourne, the Australian Nationals and SIRs and rarely outside the top five in all the major international regattas over the past three years. They also won the just concluded Singapore Sail Auckland Regatta sailed off Takapuna.

Looking for a third Olympic title, the reigning Olympic Champions, Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher from Austria won Olympic gold in 2004 in Athens and 2000 in Sydney. In 2007 they took out the Olympic Test Event in Qingdao and also won the Tornado North American Championship.

Fernando Echavarri and Anton Paz, from Spain are the defending World Champions. Off the pace recently, they are expected to be at their best after a third place in the pre-worlds event. Another team that did well at the 2007 event are Carolijn Brouwer and Sebbe Godefroid from Belgium, who finished second in the 2007 World Championships.

Britain's Leigh McMillian and Will Howden, fourth in the Auckland event, will be looking for a boost in the run-up to the Olympics and the Netherland's Mitch Booth and Pim Nieuwenhuis can also be expected to be in the running. Others who could be in the final Medal showdown are Germany's Roland Gaebler and Gunner Struckmann, Russia's Andrey Kirilyuk and Valerity Ushkov, and John Lovell and Charlie Ogletree of the USA.

The following countries are represented: Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belguim, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, and United States.

The Tornado Worlds race schedule

Day 1 Friday 22 February 0900 Registration & Equipment Inspection
Day 2 Saturday 23 February 0900 Registration & Equipment Inspection - 1800 Welcome and Opening Ceremony
Day 3 Sunday 24 February 0900 Registration Equipment Inspection - 1400hrs Practice Race
Day 4 Monday 25 February 1300 2 Races
Day 5 Tuesday 26 February 1300 2 Races
Day 6 Wednesday 27 February 1300 2 Races
Day 7 Thursday 28 February Reserve Day
Day 8 Friday29 February 1300 2 Races
Day 9 Saturday 1 March 1100 2 Races
1900 hrs Closing Ceremony & Prize Giving

Event website: www.takapunaworlds.org

The principal sponsors are: TV3, Hyundai, OKI, Orb, NZ Major Events, SPARC, North Shore City Council, Line 7 and Sail-World.com