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2 February 2007, 04:18 pm
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Tornado North American Championship 2007
Miami, Florida, USA

Three perfectly set and run races brought the ISAF Grade 1 Tornado North American Championship to a dramatic conclusion on Key Biscayne, as double Olympic Champions Roman HAGARA and Hans-Peter STEINACHER (AUT) took the title.
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The fourth and final day of the Tornado North American Championship started early, with the first warning signal made at 10:00. World Champions Darren BUNDOCK and Glen ASHBY (AUS) started the day with a grant of redress for races 3, 4 and 5 (and a replacement port hull). But the average points would not be calculated until all races had been completed... so would their average points be low enough to win the Championship?

Wide Open

2005 World Champs Fernando ECHAVARRI and Anton PAZ (ESP) were sailing in top form, and if they could discard a ninth after the first race, they would take the lead.

HAGARA and STEINACHER at first looked to be in a distant fifth place, but after the first race of the day they were poised to discard a 25th place... so were they in fifth place... or second?

The young German brothers Tino MITTELMEIER and Niko MITTELMEIER could also discard a high score, a 17th. So they too were poised to be in the hunt and confirm the promise the team repeatedly showed over the past year.

Advantage Spain

Race 6 began in 12-14 knots from the southeast with a clean start for the entire fleet. For the 34 Tornado competing in Miami, the left side of the course held as the favoured throughout the race. BUNDOCK and ASHBY and ECHAVARRI and PAZ jumped to the front of the fleet. And the Australians put on a show, breaking away and extending their lead on every leg. At the finish they were first and the Spanish were second. Advantage to ECHAVARRI and PAZ, they discarded the ninth and had a cumulative score of only ten points.

Johannes POLGAR and Florian SPATZEHOLZ (GER) took third and HAGARA and STEINACHER fourth - discarding the damaging 25th place they got in race 2.

In race 7, disaster struck for ECHAVARRI and PAZ! Their jib traveller track ripped out of its carbon backing armature forcing them to take a DNF. Meanwhile the MITTELMEIER brothers hit top form to win race 7 in moderating conditions. This was their second bullet of the championship and ultimately they were to have five races where they finished in the top five.

Advantage Austria

With their closest challengers out of the running, HAGARA and STEINACHER began to turn the screw to with a second place to close in on the title. POLGAR and SPATZEHOLZ kept the pressure on with another third place. BUNDOCK and ASHBY started to see their hopes of victory disappear with a seventh place - good but their average points might not be low enough.

The 2000 and 2004 Olympic gold medallists HAGARA and STEINACHER showed all their class to close out the championship with a first place in race 8, sealing the overall win for the great Austrian crew.

2006 World Champions and 2007 Rolex Miami OCR Champions BUNDOCK and ASHBY took second in race 8. Their average points calculated out to 4.8 points; and they took second overall, just 4.4 points behind the winners.

2005 World Champions and 2005 ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year ECHAVARRI and PAZ sailed the final race with their broken jib traveller; they were able to finish, but only in mid-fleet. A tough finish for ECHAVARRI and PAZ, but they still finished third overall.

To The Wire

The drama between the two German crews went down to the wire. The MITTELMEIER brothers finished fifth in race 8, while POLGAR and SPATZEHOLZ finished sixth. They tied on points, but the MITTELMEIERs won the tiebreaker and a very impressive fourth place overall. The young German team's performance under pressure at this championship clearly establishes them as new rising stars in the Tornado class.

2005 North American Champions Oskar JOHANSSON and Kevin STITTLE (CAN) finished as the top North American team, in eighth place overall.

The Tornado North American Championship is taking place as part of the Winter Circuit surrounding the ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Miami OCR.

Top Ten Results

Pos Nation Helm Crew R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 Pts
1 AUT Roman HAGARA Hans-Peter STEINACHER 3 (25) 2 1 8 4 2 1 21
2 AUS Darren BUNDOCK Glenn ASHBY 1 (13) 4.8 RDG 4.8 RDG 4.8 RDG 1 7 2 25.4
3 ESP Fernando ECHAVARRI Anton PAZ 9 1 4 2 1 2 (36) DNF 17 36
4 GER Tino MITTELMEIER Niko MITTELMEIER 11 4 1 3 (17) 16 1 5 41
5 GER Johannes POLGAR Florian SPALTEHOLZ 12 3 9 5 (16) 3 3 6 41
6 GBR Leigh MCMILLAN William HOWDEN 5 11 3 (21) 4 7 8 10 48
7 FRA Yann GUICHARD Alexandre GUYADER 6 5 (36) DNF 10 6 13 4 13 57
8 CAN Oskar JOHANSSON Kevin STITTLE 4 6 7 12 2 (36) DNF 14 15 60
9 FRA Olivier BACKES Paul Ambroise SEVESTRE (17) 9 6 7 12 10 9 7 60
10 USA John LOVELL Charlie OGLETREE 7 2 10 15 15 6 (16) 9 64
Michael Grandfield (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Roman HAGARA and Hans-Peter STEINACHER:© Dan Nerney/Rolex
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