Darren Bundock Interview
Photo: Pierrick Contin
Full insight interview with Darren Bundock, with 12 World Titles on Tornado and F18, plus two Olympic medals there is not much to add. Mixed sailing, Olympics, F18, A-class, Viper, Trials... all here.
Left: Darren with the younger Demesmaeker. Bundy says that the key of being back at the games is providing youths a goal for the future-
CSN: Now that we have a decision, no point to argue on the Mixed choice, but to have a clear understanding on the matter: Who forced the mixed concept initially and why?
Daren Bundock: We are back after sitting on the Olympic sideline for 42months since the 2007 November ISAF meeting where the Tornado/Multihull was removed from the Olympic slate.
Multihull has come away from the ISAF Midyear meeting as mixed and the boat will be chosen at an evaluation event.
I was not a supportter of the mixed gender but now that it has been choosen we have the oppurtunity to make the most of it and take multihull sailing forward. “Mixed” first came to light in the Olympic Commission report and gained support as Multihull needed to be reintroduced.
ISAF needs to work towards gender equality, ISAF believed we did not have enough women in multihull to justify a Womens multihull event (despite multihull women having more number than woman's skiff) and Open basically means men with one or two exceptions. The opportunity we now have and must make the most of with mixed is getting as many women involved in both roles on the boat to justify the numbers for a pure women's Multihull for 2020. We need to see mixed as a stepping stone to two events in 2020.
-CSN: You were present at St Petersburg , it seems this time Multis were in a 'comfortable' position, or at least not on the edge as last time where political interests and change of procedures awfully pushed by US representative Charlie Cook , how was the climate this time?
DB: I think its safe to say at ISAF meetings no one is safe. This time in St Petersburg was the safest multihull will ever be. We were fortunate to be included in every submission and unless something extraordinary happened last minute we were going through is some form. One lesson we had learned from the 2007 Novemebr ISAF meeting is extraordinary last minute things can happen as in 2007 when the voting process was changed from a proposal from the floor and work against Tornado.
You would of thought the skiff was safe but on the eve of the voting it was skiff on the chopping board as politically they were the weakest.
- CSN: No Open Multihull proposal was out on the table? I mean, any proposal with current selection but with an Open Multihull would have been ideal and with the same amount of support, or even more??
DB: Actually there was a submission from New Zealand that had open Multihull but this submission had zero support and did not even pass stage 1 of voting as it failed to get a proposer and a seconder. As I said above open is seen as men with one or two exceptions. ISAF has no guarantee on women numbers with Open where as mixed they know if there is 17 countries competing they will have 17 women on the start line.
Photo: Christophe Launay
- CSN:How do you feel about the selected equipment and on having Keels boats out?
DB: I have always been a supporter of the 5:5, all 5 disciplines represented at the Olympics. I'm not saying I supported the equipment chosen for the previous keelboats but I do support the discipline.
To me 5:5 is logical, understandable, modern, marketable and a representative of all aspects of the sport.
Multihull jumped up and down when it was removed for many reasons but a major reason was because a whole sector of the sport was not represented. We were also supported from other areas of the sport for this reason so now another sector has been removed.
IOC have come out and said one of the best things of the sport of sailing is the diversity that it has. Removing keel boat now limits some of that diversity and the skill of match racing which is a unique format of sailing.
- CSN:Paul Pascoe said he will write a guide on his recommendations for a new boat, and he already dismissed the so called club racing boats. You agree with him?
DB: I guess it depends on the definition of a club racing boat after all I would consider the Laser as a club racing boat and it does ok at Olympic level.
But what I am guessing Paul is referring to is the boat should have a minimum criteria of a spinnaker, daggerboards, accessible, affordable and most of all exceptional quality.
These boats are going to get sailed to death in all conditions, the Olympics is not about just sailing on the weekends anymore. The game has stepped up and requires the "athletes" to be full time and pushing the limits.
Darren with Carolijn Brouwer on a Viper, on a regatta where they left some F18s crews wondering why they were behind an F16...
- CSN:This mandatory mixed reduce the alternatives for chosing the right cat, but also might open in my view, some special ingredients for promoting Multis . The Viper is a solid candidate for the trials, Carolijn and you have both years of experience on the Tornado and now some good hours on the AHPC Viper, which are the main differences , besides obvious size, and key points for each type of boat (big 20footer vs powered F16) thinking on mixed sailing?
DB: I think there will be plenty of alternatives available as anyone can design/build a boat for the trials and I think we will see a few great ideas and concepts appear. Problem is it's not cheap and a lot of work for the chance that your boat is selected.
I was involved in the evaluation trials in Quiberon in March 2000. We all spent a lot of money developing concepts, building rigs, shipping them to Europe, flying people around the world, accommodation and promotion. I am not convinced anything was achieved as the only result seemed to be that Tornado was told to put a spinnaker on and double trapeze.
But we all knew that was needed well before going there.
I just hope there are clear criteria and objectives set out for these trials.
- CSN:Paul Pascoe also pointed on his report, that the builders and the multihull community were quite calm on boat discussions, and did not start a cat fight before having the first objective achieved, now that we are back, boat discussions will rise all over the place, and already seen some intense positions. Do we need a common position or agreement for the Trials?
DB: I think it was great that Multihull united and worked together to get Multihull back in.
For me the key point was to get Multihull selected again for the youth of Multihull sailing. What it meant when Multihull was no longer an Olympic discipline was that youth multihull sailing just about all around the world saw all funding cut by federations and goverments the day after the 2007 Nov Olympic descision. This has a massive impact on our youth coming through.
I hope the different classes will not resort to bagging each other and I hope all comments are removed from this blog if they are anonymous as this only encourages it. If its worth saying something then its worth putting your name behind it.
You will notice I did not answer your question above comparing the Viper and the Tornado. They both have a purpose in Multihull sailing and it's up to a independent evaluation panel to say what is best suited to represent mixed sailing at the Olympics.
Plus there is no point comparing current boats ,as who says the Tornado or the Viper will be put forward in their current form? Once applications are on the table then the discussion can start.
- CSN:Who will decide on the future cat? the isaf multihull comittee?
DB:The decision maker on the Olympic boat is the ISAF. There will be evaluation trials run by the ISAF Equipement Committee with I believe a independent evaluation panel.
- 'Interested' parties will take part on the sailing tests?
DB: Who knows? But hard to find anyone you would want on the panel that does not have a conflict of interest or bias in some way.
Photo Marco Iazetta - Darren crewing at the 2010 F16 Europeans.
- CSN:You didn´t like the Mixed option although you are riding and promoting the Viper, now that is decided, you found yourself working with a winner and proved mixed cat option, but AHPC-2B needs to expand its world wide network to get a solid position to match Hobie and Nacra neworks, a key issue on trials besides performance , I saw that the group is already pushing for the Viper class , at the Eurocat the Viper dominated the C1 class, which are your next goals ?
DB: The Viper class is booming at the moment and I think it's nearly safe to say it would be one of the best growth areas in Multihull racing. Last year the Viper became a ISAF recognized One Design Class and we now have 160 boats on the water.
The beauty of the Viper is it is universal, raced as a one design, 104 handicap or even F16 if the owner chooses. If your crew can't make it you remove the jib and still compete as a uni rig.
The Viper has forced AHPC to expand it's world wide network just due to demand so whether AHPC chooses to go down the Olympic path or not it's well on the way to world wide distribution.
I have promoted the Viper as one design as I feel the class is big enough to stand alone and we are not interested in the constant development allowed in the F16 rule set. So now we have planned development in consultation with ISAF which protects the investment of our customers knowing their boat is not out of date next week.
In saying that many of our customers still compete in F16 and I think we can expect the Vipers to be by far the largest entries at this years F16 worlds.
The class shows that it is at the forefront of development and the leader of similar size boats as shown at Eurocat regatta this year taking 9 of the top 10 positions. It was pleasing to see 7 of those top 9 boats had a female sailor competing.
- CSN:In costs the F16s is not that far from F18 prices, for ie in Argentina where we are having a solid growth from zero on multihull racing with the Formula 18, there is no room for another high performance 'expensive' class, compared to a feeder more popular and accesible 16 daggerless option (H16, Nacra 500, SL16 etc) In Europe wich is the target of sailors that are buying Vipers?
DB: In retail terms the Viper is about €3,000 cheaper than F18 which is really hard to achieve as the boat is only two foot shorter, mast is 50cm shorter, a few square metres of sail material are missing but its the same labour, layout, fittings, foils and better construction with the use of epoxy instead of polyester or Vinylester resigns. Plus it cost more to make the boat 50kg lighter. So all in all the Viper is very good value.
We have found the main customers for Viper are either the father/son, boyfriend/girlfriend combinations or those moving from F18 as the sheet loads are to heavy or the boat is two hard to move around the beach. Its usually the wives are the ones that want the Viper.
- CSN:The Tornado has some solid arguments as a stablished class with a mixed crew as last world champs, even Carolijn has done quite well riding mixed, but which are the chances for the old good against a modern 20 foot, like the F20c or the M20 on performance trial?
DB:All of the above are great boats and I would expect to see them all at the trials. You have to remember the trials will be ore than just performance and which is the quickest.
- CSN:Oracle has presented a Winged 18 option, it surely not seems the way to go have more countries involved due to cost for ie, but it is an attractive tech option that can benefit of the current AC45 excellent promotion for the sport. What is your thought on this new advanced option?
DB: I believe its actually the AC20. I saw some drawings and it looks very cool. Something I would like to play on but I'm not sure ISAF and the emerging countries are ready for this.
Photo: Christophe Launay
- CSN:After almost grabbing the title on the C2 launch year, and after a solid year of testing , tuning and unbeaten streak until Eurocat , where you were out of the podium again on two! BFD, how do you guys felt racing against the new designs, and which are your goals for 2011 on the class ?
DB: F18 I think is a great concept as despite being a formula rule/box rule it has material restrictions and the key elements that makes a catamaran go fast are limited. Hence why we see all the designs very competitive. The key to the different designs make some boats easier to sail in all conditions. This is the advantage of the C2 it is easy to sail and get the most out of the performance and the quality is second to none.
Gee, goals for this year? Goal 1 is to have a max of one BFD per regatta. Any way we are having fun and sailing well. I would like to say we can win the F18 Worlds but due to other commitments we will only sail a couple more times before the worlds and who knows what will happen on Lake Balaton. I’m sure we will go ok.
- CSN:The F18 Class does not want to became an Olympic class and also does not support any of its designs, in you view what is the possible scenario for the class and the selected boat if say, the C2 is chosen as the Olympic alternative?
DB: I would be very surprised if the C2 was chosen as the Olympic Equipment, as far as I know it wont be at the trials as we don’t think its the right boat for this. I am at two minds on this subject now its mixed. If it was men only I think it would spell the end of F18 as we know it as even if a out of date F18 was chosen the top teams would all be sailing it and would still be winning and the other manufactures would be struggling to stay alive.
But now its mixed I'm not sure, if we look at the last F18 Worlds if you remove Carolijn as she is the exception (read above regarding open) the next female was 46th. So I think the men's teams will still be very competitive against the professional mixed teams, except maybe the exception..
Photo: Matthew Johnson /HYC
- CSN:Hard to believe that will all your cat experience you had your first A-Class ride a few months ago, did you like it? downwind, you felt the need for a Spi? or the 75kg of the boat and its power were enough to build the downhill speed you are used to achieved on the T, F18 , Viper for ie?
DB: Yes, the Australian A-Class national championships was my first regatta on A-Class and really enjoyed it. A great size fleet for Australia of 70 boats and very good competition.
Up until now I had always been too light to sail a A-Class but now I am a bit older and fatter, I managed to get up to 73kg. I loved the ease of the boat, getting it off the trailer alone, standing the mast alone and its ultra smooth and fast upwind. With the boat being so light you can feel every little modification and your own body position makes a massive difference.
Down wind I was a bit off the pace compared to Glenny and Stevie but admittedly I was lacking a little time on the boat compared to these guys. While I was getting used to the boat in general they were training trapezing down wind. It was great to watch these guys motor downwind. Yep, I needed a spinnaker. I don’t think that it will be my last A-class regatta.
- CSN:Are you involved right now in any AC project?
DB: Nothing long term confirmed but I am doing some part time coaching for a team. I would like to have a future in the AC.
- CSN:Will we see you back doing a Olympic Campaign?
I read one of the comments on this blog about Mr and Mrs Bundock teaming up. I can tell you now that’s not going to happen. Carolijn and I have now sailed 2 regattas together. The 2008 Hobie Tiger worlds and the North Sea regatta on the Viper last year. I think that’s enough. We have a great relationship and not about to jeopardise it by sailing together in a Olympic campaign. I hope Carolijn decides to do a campaign as she is perfectly suited for this. Who knows Kyle might be old enough to sail with mum in 2016.