The New Zealand International Tornado Association together with the North Shore City and Yachting New Zealand took the bid to the International Tornado Association at the recent Tornado World Championship in La Rochelle, France. North Shore City had great support from the Tornado sailors and won a unanimous decision over Melbourne, Australia.
Prominent Kiwi Tornado sailor and class president in New Zealand, Aaron MCINTOSH presented the proposal together with Paul DUNPHY, Events, City Promotions and Tourism Manager at North Shore City Council and the support of Yachting New Zealand. MCINTOSH was delighted with the announcement.
'I had some thoughts about trying to attract the 2006 Worlds and when I heard that had been decided I thought, why not go for the big one in 2008? I did a poll around the sailors and they all want to come here, the European guys want to come down. I see it as a summer down under for them and would like to see the sailors and their families here not just for the World Champs but for a few months of training and fun events as well,' said MCINTOSH. 'It works for me too; I can train here on my doorstep with the world's best - right before the Olympics.'
The World Championships regatta is likely to take place in the second half of February in 2008 and will last for around nine days; however MCINTOSH's vision is that the sailors will be in the country for longer. It is aimed that the World Championship sailing is set against a backdrop of onshore and on-the-water events, training opportunities and festivities which will make up an action packed summer down under for the Tornado sailing community as well as North Shore residents and visitors.
'I want to see something the public can touch. Where people can wander down and see the boats and see the action from the beach,' said MCINTOSH.
The Tornado has been an Olympic Class boat since 1976, where is debuted as the first Olympic multihull. While the 2005 event attracted 68 boats to La Rochelle, France, New Zealand can expect to see a fleet of at least this size for the 2008 event given its timing in relation to the Olympic Games and its status as a qualifying event. Visible Tornado racing on this level off the North Shore's beaches is an exciting prospect.
'It's an exciting boat to watch,' said 1984 Olympic Gold medallist in the Tornado, Rex SELLERS (NZL) yesterday. 'It has become a lot more colourful with the introduction of gennakers and the other developments. You could say it is the elite of centreboard sailing.'
'It's exciting news. Any international event raises the profile. The level of professionalism in the sport and the Tornado is always increasing. Hosting the Worlds allows our sailors to get the competition without the expenditure of travelling. A lot of the guys competing have been the same for a while - they've all been to Australia - I think the North Shore, Auckland was an appealing alternative for them.'
New Zealand had significant success in the Tornado in the 1980s when SELLERS and Chris TIMMS won the gold medal in Los Angeles 1984 and then followed that it with a silver medal in Seoul four years later.
'New Zealand's connection with the Tornado has been strong, we've produced outstanding results in the past,' says John CLINTON, former Olympic Coach. 'SELLERS and TIMMS in 1984 and 1988. New Zealand played a big part in the development of the class in those days. Takapuna Boating Club hosted the International 14 Worlds in February; the nature of the Tornado as an Olympic Class means this will be much bigger.'
New Zealand's top contenders are Aaron MCINTOSH and Mark KENNEDY. MCINTOSH knows what Olympic success is all about after winning the bronze medal in the Mistral in Sydney 2000. Sailing together with Argentinean crew Carlos ESPINOLA at the Tornado Worlds last week, MCINTOSH took sixth place in the 68 boat fleet. The Kiwi was grateful for the opportunity to sail with ESPINOLA, who like him has moved from boardsailing to the Tornado.
'Carlos and I have been good friends and competitors for over ten years,' said MCINTOSH. 'This chance to race together is the not the sort of thing that happens everyday. So when Carlos asked if I would do the World Championships with him, I jumped at the opportunity. We did well in La Rochelle because we worked extremely well together as a team and respect for each other was the basis of this.'
The North Shore City Council has given significant time and energy into securing a positive outcome to the bid and Events, City Promotions and Tourism Manager Paul DUNPHY is very pleased.
'It's great - the benefits are huge. We were able to analyze the financial benefits that resulted from hosting the International 14 regatta at Takapuna and determined that the economic impact was $1.1 million to the local economy. We recognize that these sorts of events are significant and that North Shore City has a long association with sailing as a sport. From our perspective, we want to attract as many of these types of events as we can.'