The Multihull Open discipline will be almost as open as it could get. Any one of the top ranked sailors in the world could walk away with the title of 2004 Tornado World Champion when the event concludes on 24 September in Cadiz.
Darren BUNDOCK and John FORBES (AUS) have been keeping their fingers in after winning both the last World and European Championships, and are defending Olympic Silver Medallists. Although they still don't feature in the top three of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, they will be strong contenders and will certainly appear in the top bunch of sailors in Cadiz. Interestingly, with the advent of the new right, the pair won the last World Championships using the old rig, and the first using the new. They have both competed widely and very successfully in other multihull classes.
Roman HAGARA and Peter STEINACHER (AUT), are another pair of athletes who are bound to feature in form at the regattas that really matter and this event will be no different. Gold medallists in Sydney, where they won with a good lead over Bundock and Forbes, they currently lie fourth in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, with a win at the Rolex Miami OCR as their only ISAF Grade 1 victory in 2003. If selected to represent Austria, the 2004 Olympic Regatta will mark Roman's third Olympic appearance. Whilst competing in 1992 and 2000, he lost out to his brother, Andreas HAGARA in 1996 who represented Austria with Florian SCHNEEBERGER as crew. Back in 2000, Hagara and Steinacher's medal, along with Christoph SIEBER's medal in the men's windsurfing event, were Austria's first Gold Medals in sailing.
Other challenges to the defence of Bundock's title could come from a number of places. In a tightly packed rankings, the top two pairings of Xavier REVIL and Laurent GUILLEMETTE (FRA) or Hugh STYLES and Adam MAY (GBR) could easily challenge for the title. Revil and Guillemette recently came seventh at the Tornado European Championship and although neither pair have featured in the top three of a World Championship, both are veteran Tornado sailors and will be relishing the thought of knocking the defending champion off the top spot.
Great Britain have yet to qualify in the Tornado though, and that will be the primary objective of all six of the crews representing Great Britain in Cadiz. France has qualified, and will be hunting the title with glee.
Interestingly, John FORBES, also has a Silver Medal from the 1992 Olympics to his credit, when sailing with Mitch BOOTH, who himself now sails for the Netherlands. Booth, still sailing under the Australian flag, went on to claim a Silver for Australia at the 1996 Olympic Regatta. How will he perform under his new Dutch nationality? We will have to wait and see.
Mitch BOOTH/Herbert DERCKSEN (NED) © Tornado Class
Will the results of the recent Athens Regatta be anything to go by. Sailing in Games time conditions it was the Bundock and Forbes who hit the gold medal podium position, followed by Hagara and Steinacher with the silver. Chasing up not too far behind was the Argentinean duo of Santiago LANGE and Carlos ESPINOLA.
Whilst they placed fifth at this year's recent Tornado European Championship, victory was theirs in 2002. With an ISAF world ranking of fifth, Lange and Espinola will have every chance of a top slot, without the pressure of Olympic qualification, as Argentina qualified at last year's Worlds. Impressively, crew Carlos ESPINOLA is the same Carlos who took a silver medal for Argentina in each of the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Regattas. Indeed, Lange is also no stranger to Olympic competition, representing Argentina in the Laser's debut appearance at the 1996 Olympic Regatta, where he placed ninth.
The Portuguese team of Diogo CAYOLLA/Nuno BARETTO getting ready for the 2002 Europeans in Portugal © Tornado Class
First appearing at the Olympic Games in 1972, the Tornado introduced a twin trapeze and spinnaker after the 2000 Olympics, giving it top speeds in excess of 33 knots.
Nations Already Qualified for the 2004 Olympic Regatta from results at the 2002 Tornado Class World Championship:
Australia (AUS), France (FRA), Austria (AUT), Argentina (ARG), Sweden (SWE).
The 2003 ISAF World Championship sees another seven countries qualifying for the 2004 Olympic Regatta.
Tomorrow ISAF will bring you the low down on the Single-handed Dinghy Men in the Finn fleet.
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Runners and Riders - previously published articles
Single-handed Dinghy Open - Laser
Double-handed Dinghy Men and Women - 470