The first tour stop of this year's Volvo Champions Race from May 7 - 9 presents a perfect line-up of Tornado Dream Teams on Lake Starnberg in Bavaria as Sydney Gold medalist and Multiple World Champion Roland GAEBLER Says.
"It's like Olympics before the Olympics. With 15 excellent crews it's the perfect scenario for us to practice for the Games. It's a dream field coming to Starnberg. Something like this has never happened before."
And indeed, all top Tornado crews and current medal hopes from all over the world will make the premiere of the Volvo Champions Race a very special event in its second year. Olympic Champions Roman HAGARA and Hans-Peter STEINACHER (AUT) will be there as well as the new World Champions Santiago LANGE and Carlos ESPINOLA (ARG) and Sydney's Silver medalist Darren BUNDOCK with his European crew Will HOWDEN (GBR). They will face strong competition from the current leaders of the ISAF World Rankings, Olympic co-favorites Mitch BOOTH and Herbie DERCKSEN and top German crew Roland GAEBLER and Gunnar STRUCKMANN who just qualified for the German spot in Athens. Also watch out for Johannes POLGAR and Carsten HAPPEL who just lost the national qualification for Athens to Gaebler/Struckmann and certainly want to prove that they are still a world class crew.
Roland GAEBLER understands the overwhelming echo of his friends and rivals from all over the world easily. "The Volvo Champions Race is really important for our sport, as we need a change. The Volvo Champions Race has the right concept. Sailing can be presented to visitors and TV viewers in a perfect and spectacular way. Fans can see us and almost touch us whilst racing. And for us sailors the format is exciting too. Be honest! How boring is the America's Cup in comparison to this kind of action, these classes and these races?"
says the 39 year old Champion. Gaebler spontaneously created his own motto for the event: "We are the future. We make the future. We sail the future."
Again, the Volvo Champions Race will present two of the most spectacular Olympic Classes on all three days of racing. A maximum of twelve 20-minute races directly in front of the shore will be started for each of the classes. In between racing a stunt show will demonstrate that there are many more exciting ways to tame a Tornado or a 49er than just sail the boat round the buoys... Besides the international Tornado elite also some of the world's top 49er crews have set sails for Starnberg, a lovely Bavarian town which has recently won an interesting poll by Germany's leading magazine "Stern". The editorial staff wanted to know where Germany's most happy people live. Starnberg finished first amongst more than hundred cities.
Germany's most hopeful Olympic crew Marcus BAUR and Max GROY, who just won Bronze at the 49er Worlds, want to improve their second overall in last year's Volvo Champions Race Series and look forward to meeting some of their strongest rivals in Starnberg. "For us the Volvo Champions Race does not only provide a perfect training option in our preparations for the Games. We really look forward to the racing, the professional Set-up of this event, the wonderful hosts and of course the very special parties".
They will face fierce competition from Denmark's number one team Michael HESTBEK and Dennis Dengsoe ANDERSON who just came fourth at the Worlds, and also Allan NORREGARD and Klaus NAUR (DEN) who came seventh at the Worlds in Athens. Peter and Soren HANSEN, last year's Tour winners will be back as well as Switzerland's Tom RUEGGE and Joerg STEINER. A detailed starting list will be published about a week prior to the event. SKH Heinrich Prince of Bavaria will definitely have his chance to compete against the Pros as the event organizers supplied this young crew with a wild card.
After a highly successful premiere in 2003 Germany's Volvo Champions Race is going strong into its second year. And yet again there will be a considerable purse to be divided between the top crews of each of the three events as well as the top eight teams of the overall Tour rankings. In each event each class is sailing for 6.500 Euro. At the end of the 2004 season the organizers will have distributed a total purse of 70.000 Euro.