Final Report Tornado Class 2000 Subaru World Championship.
January 16, 2000, the fifth and last day of the Tornado Class 2000 Subaru World Championship dawned sunny and beautiful, just another day in paradise.
The forecast was for 5-10 knots E/SE tending to E/NE. The gradient SE breeze was losing pressure, allowing the seabreeze to come in. Before the boats could begin leaving for the race course, the postponement flag was put up since the Jury was listening to more requests for redress in the disputed 6th race where the race committee set the replacement mark late after a change of course.
This regatta are so important, with many countries using it as their Olympic Trials and the ISAF using the Worlds as an Olympic qualifyer, that when a race has half the fleet heading for one mark and half for another, the fairest and least time consuming way to resove the problem is to abandon the race, and restart so the results are tabulated at the finish line, not in the Jury room.
The races take an hour, and the jury had been hearing redress requests for days. After two hours the Tornados headed out to the course with a whole new set of results, based on a new Jury decision, which would spawn new requests for redress.
When I was young and reading about the America's Cup, I remember reading an Australian member of the crew who surfed by Weatherly just before the finish line, state that "we learned to surf like that off the Sydney Heads". As the 74 Tornados sailed out past the Heads, many crews and coaches were taking pictures of the majestic North Head where the water is 80 feet deep only a couple of boatlengths from where the sheer rock hits the water. The wind was under the 6 knot average needed for a Tornado race so the postponement flag went up again.
The seabreeze started to kick in about 3:30 and just before 4 PM the last race of the 2000 Tornado Worlds was away. NED Mitch Booth/Herbert Dercksen had the perfect pin end start with USA Johnny Lovell/Charley Ogletree just up on their hip. At the first mark USA Lovell/Ogletree lead GER Helge Sach/Christian Sach, AUT Roman Hagara/Hans Peter Steinacher, (the defending World Champions and regatta leader by 3 points), FRA Olivier Backes/Laurent Voiron, GER Roland Gaebler/Rene Schwall (2nd over all), and USA Lars Guck/P J Schaffer.
In big events great athletes perform greatly and the Roland Gaebler/Rene Schwall team were about to prove their greatness. The seabreeze was increasing and at the second weather mark USA Lovell/Ogletree lead Sach/Sach, around with GER Gaebler/Schwall shifting into a gear no one else could match, up to third, POR Hugo Rocha/NunoBarreto (470 Bronze medalists, 1996), FRA Backes/Voiron, and AUT Hagara/Steinacher (now 6th) following.
This was Sydney at its best with 10-15 knots, sun, and 1-2 metre swells with flecks of white on top. By the third weather mark GER Gaebler/Schwall were up to second and nipping at the heels of USA Lovell/Ogletree. Down the run they came. Gaebler/Schwall were going lower and threatened to pin Lovell/Ogletree, who jybed to get free, but Roland Gaebler and Rene Schwall were too fast and crossed the line in first, and with AUT Hagara/Steinacher in 5th, had made up the point differential and were now the first Tornado World Champions of the new millenium.
With a half moon in the sky and mare's tails dancing over the North Head, the 74 Tornados headed back into Sydney Harbour for the last time. This September just 17 Tornados will return for the 2000 Olympic Games. Sydney is a special place for sailing, and the Olympic Games will showcase sailing in the Harbour in front of the Sydney Opera House, and out in the Ocean past the famous Sydney Heads, like no other city in the world. It is not very often sailing has such a special venue, and no Tornado sailor will forget the 2000 Subaru Worlds and sailing in the waves off the Sydney Heads.