The 2002 Tornado World Championships, hosted by Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts USA, kicks off on Saturday 21 September and 55 teams from 20 nations will fight it out for the 2002 World Champion title.
Only 4 teams from the top 30 ISAF World Ranked sailors are not entered for the 2002 World Championships and there is an impressive line up of past world champions and Olympians. Defending champions, Darren Bundock and John Forbes (AUS), who also won the title in 1998, are currently on the ISAF World Rankings at number 2. They will have their sights firmly set on qualifying Australia for Athens 2004 and then being selected to represent Australia to go one better than the silver medal they took home from Sydney 2000. With a recent 2nd at the 2002 Athens Test Event and a gold medal in the Open Multihull event at the 2002 ISAF World Sailing Games, sailing a Hobie 16, Bundock and Forbes look set to have another podium finish in the USA. (Mark Padgett crewed for Bundock at the ISAF World Sailing Games)
Also on the race course, will be defending Olympic Champions Roman Hagara and Peter Hans Steinacher (AUT) who had to settle for 2nd behind Bundock and Forbes at the 2001 Tornado Worlds. With an impressive string of results behind them, Hagara and Steinacher took the gold at the AthensTest Event and Kieler Wocher this season and finished 1st at the Tornado Worlds in 1999 and 2nd in 2000. If they qualify for Athens 2004 and are chosen to represent Austria at the event it will be Hagara's third Olympics sailing a Tornado. In 1992 he crewed for brother Andreas, finishing 7th overall. Currently ranked at number 11 in the World, 2 time Olympian Andreas Hagara is one of the few top ranked teams not competing in Massachusetts.
The third of the five 2-time Olympians is Mitch Booth currently ranked at number 4 in the world and representing the Netherlands. Booth secured Olympic silver and bronze medals for Australia in 1996 and 1992 respectively and with a different crew each time. In 1992 John Forbes, currently crewing for Darren Bundock, crewed Booth to the bronze medal and in 1996 Andrew Landenberger, currently ranked at number 18 and competing in Massachusetts, crewed with Booth to go one better and take the silver. Now sailing with Herbert Derecksen, Booth will be seeking to improve on his previous best position at a Tornado World Championships of 3rd in 1997.
Sailing on home waters will be John Lovell and Charlie Ogletree (USA), also hoping to make Athens 2004 their third Olympics. Lovell finished 7th in 2000 and 8th in 1996 and is currently ranked at number 29 in the World. Finally Puerto Rico's number one Tornado sailor and two time Olympian (1992 and 2000) Enrique Suarez Figueroa will be hoping that experience will pay off and that Puerto Rico will qualify for Athens. maybe 3rd time lucky to get a medal? Figueroa claimed the bronze medal at the 2002 ISAF World Sailing Games sailing a Hobie 16 with Carla Malatrasi behind Booth and Hobie 16 World Champion Gavin Colby. If Puerto Rico qualifies, and Figueroa is selected to represent his nation at Athens 2004 can he make it 3rd time lucky and go home with a medal?
Other sailors to watch will be Sven Karsenbarg & Mischa Heemskerk (NED) who have been steadily working their way up the rankings to currently sit at number 14. Will they be able to challenge Booth & Derecksen for the Netherland's spot in Athens? Returning to the International Tornado circuit is US Virgin Islander Terry Jackson now sailing with Morgan Avery. Jackson was campaigning for the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 but was forced to withdraw after suffering at the hands of Hurricane Marilyn. He then turned his attention to Sydney 2000 but again luck was not on his side and he failed to qualify. The 2002 Tornado World Championship will be an excellent start to Jackson and Avery's campaign for Athens 2004 and the first step back onto the ISAF World Tornado Rankings.
Registration and Measurement will commence on 21 September with racing beginning on Monday 23 September after a practice race on the Sunday. 2 races are scheduled for each day with a lay day to take place on 26 September provided 6 races have taken place over the preceding days. The Race Committee will be headed up by ISAF International Race Officer (IRO) Paul Ulibarri (CAN). The Jury will include International Judge (IJ) and IRO David Lees (GBR), IJ Manfred Piso (AUT), IJ Sergey Kuzovov (RUS), Wally Ross (USA) and Polly Brown (USA).