Feb 19, 2012

Olympic Trials: Interview with Roland Gaebler

Although many criticize Roland on his strong defense and promotion for the Tornado (the same that others do for their classes) to me he is really committed to the best Olympic alternative. Of course he thinks is the best option but and he is not saying 'Tornado or die'.
The Tornado should show its power at Santander. "40years of High Performance" was the poster I made for the past Olympic fiasco with changed on the fly voting procedure. Photo below by Andrea Francolini. Also check one of the best videos outhere of Aaron Mcintosh sailing the T in NZ, pure blasting like Beijing's Medal race.

If I have to pick just one video to represent what Catamaran sailng is all about this is definitely the one.

A good and key proposal from him and the T class is supplying the boats, that could be very helpful and efficient as Hobie has shown in their history of Hobie 16 Worlds. AHPC has also some experience with Alter Cups. I think whom ever end being selected will need to provide boats and parts availability World Wide, and will need to show ISAF that they are prepared for the challenge.
It seems the ITA is full focused, lets see how the Trials go.
I hope we can see Roland racing with Nahid along the top crews in Rio 2016.

CNS - The Olympics trials are coming, tell us about your proposal for Santander
Roland Gaebler: The ITA is sending the One Design Marstrom and One Design Exploder Tornado, both boats will be using our Olympic and World championship winning, Ullman One Design Sails.
The price of these boats will be €25,900 for the Marstrom and €15,900 for the Exploder, this price is
for a ready to sail boat with Carbon Mast and a set of Ullman One Design Sails.

The Tornado stands for strict One Design and the highest quality. Roman Hagara sailed 3 Olympic
Games with the same boat winning 2 Gold medals, an Olympic equipment record. We are sending
used boats to the trials, because we want to show how good the quality is.
Over multiple Olympic cycles the Tornado platform has proved to be excellent value for MNA’s and
sailors compared to other Olympic classes. However sail development costs have been huge,
deterring new teams.

ITA addressed these concerns, striking a great deal for the class with Ullman sails in 2009. Now a full
suit costs just €2,450 ex tax/delivery. (fixed for 4years) These designs represent more than a decade
of evolution by teams who now apply their knowledge in Americas Cup, VX40, The Volvo Ocean race,
F18 and F16. It's been fantastic to offer the best engines available to all of our sailors at prices which
other classes struggle to touch.
The ITA understand this is especially important in the current economic climate.
The new ITA committee has a broad range of people and skills, who have learned from ITA’s past
mistakes. We are keen to be fair and open with the ISAF and want to regain and retain their trust as
an organisation that they can work with for Olympic sport. We recognize that we need to spend
time committing to the ISAF process for the good of the Tornado and multihull sailing.

CSN: Any other alternative? some rumours on a updated T....
RG: There may be rumours but we are extremely happy with our boat, it is available across the World
and the sailors love the boat how it is. Yes, some people may think the hulls look a little outdated
but the fact is it is one the most hi-tech rigs which has been developed on top of the platform.
If the class was to be selected as the Olympic Multihull I am sure we will be looking at how we can
evolve and improve the boat, maybe by developing the hulls underneath the current rig.
The important thing we have to remember is that we are a Class Association, we are not run by a
manufacturer, everything we do needs to respect and support our sailors, whether they be Olympic
sailors or weekend sailors.

For now, the Tornado Fleets are growing again across the World with great events for amateurs and
professionals. The Tornado is a well-known brand in Multihull Sailing and we want to use the
excellent image into the future. We want to push forward our strengths and not sail with designs
which are not yet 100% proven. The Olympic Games, MNAs and sailors do not need any surprises.
We have quality everyone can trust.
Currently some sailors in other Olympic Classes choose to buy 6 boats in one 4 year Olympic
Campaign. Now more than ever with the World recession, we understand that MNA’s need
affordability. We believe that over the Olympic cycle the Tornado has proved to offer the best value
for money, beyond that of many existing Olympic classes.

CSN:You are on a campaign to elevate weight minimum, which was the average weight on past
Tornado Olympics?

RG:It was between 130 and 170kg. In Qingdao we had many teams below 140kg. They made crazy diets
to perform better in light winds. Also me, I went down from my average 83kg down to 73kg to be
faster in light winds in Athens, Savannah and Busan. This made me very ill. In my opinion if we take a
smaller boat for 2016, we may see cases of bulimia. We believe making yourself ill to be quicker is
not the way to go, we would rather see more power in the sails.

CSN:What would happen if after Rio, "Open" is back , we will need to change boat again?
RG:This depends on the boat chosen, if a smaller boat is chosen then it is more likely, nobody knows at
this stage.

CSN:How is the T class doing? You think sailors are looking for more modern options like F20c , is possible to create a new competitive 20' class ?
RG: The Tornado is still one of the fastest cats and we see ourselves as the competitive 20' class. In Texel
2011 the Tornado with a new youngster at the helm with Team McDonald's (BEL) was just some
minutes behind the new Nacra Carbon 20 after 3 hours of racing.
If sailors want to sail at World and European championships they can't pick an F20, the class
structure and events are not there.

CSN: Have you sailed an F16? If so , how was it?
RG: Yes we did. I had the feeling I was back on a much smaller boat, personally it was just too small for
us. We felt we were always about to front loop in the big waves. Maybe we sailed on the wrong boat
but this was our impression. It will be great to see how the boats perform against each other in
Santander at the evaluations.

CSN: The F18 is the most competitive and popular performance cat class, how do you see its

RG: Great racing everywhere. Okay, it has an old fashion Aluminum mast and is heavier than a Tornado
but the big fleets around the world show the class is on the right track and the dealers are also
pushing the class to the top. I think the F18 and A cat will be the biggest fleets in the future.

CSN:How do you see the future of cat racing and the AC ?
RG: The AC are at the top and hopefully a real flyer will come for the Olympics which will also promote
our sport in the best possible way between all the other great classes. The multihull market will
increase also in the leisure racing and sailing. It’s a win win situation for all of us. More boats. More
jobs. More fun.
The AC is the new undisputed F1 of the Multihull world and we are excited to see where they will
lead our sport in the future. They really have been a media success and we have many lessons to
learn from them, maybe we will see a trickle down effect into Olympic multihull sailing as they
prove new technical concepts and media promotion.
It is also great for us as a class to see so many previous Tornado sailors taking part in the campaigns.

CSN: If the T is not selected, which is your next option?
RG: For me the new Nacra 17 looks good, compliments to Nacra for coming up with such a boat at the
right moment. So far this is my second favourite after Tornado but my only concern is that there has
not yet been much testing on the water, let's wait and see!

CSN: You will compete if an F16 is selected?
RG: No, personally this boat is far too small for us. We also believe that more than 50% of the actual
mixed teams will also not sail F16 because they weight more than 140kg. It is really an excellent boat
for the national and club youth programs, ISAF Youth Worlds and Youth Olympics. But I believe not
for fully grown muscular female and male athletes. The Olympics should be a real sporting challenge
for Olympic Athletes.
I believe that 16 foot Cats are for the Youth, 18 foot is great for the leisure racing and 20 foot for the
Olympics. This system has worked in harmony for the last few decades. This is the perfect
configuration in cat sailing so why destroy this?

CSN: You are in a weight minimum campaign, tell us in your opinion how this affect to performance
on smaller cats

RG: It’s very simple. If you are too heavy, you have no chance between 3 and 12 knots of Wind in a small
cat. The “ultralights” will win the races and the Olympic Medals. If we looked to the majority of
Olympic Classes for 2016 (470, skiff, windsurfing) we already have mostly boats for light sailors. We
do not need another one.

CSN: I agree with you that pushing for a low min weight is not that healthy, and I think even the
F16 can stand a wider range, so I don´t get why the 140kg limit- you've made a report on this,
which were the results?

RG: We are unsure the reasoning behind the ISAF evaluation team making the 120-140kg target. A man
above 80kg can only sail a Finn or stop his Olympic Dream. Same way the average weight of a
Man/Olympic Male Athlete is 81kg.
If you look to the light wind scenario in Rio de Janeiro, we may end up with teams up to 110kg if we
use a smaller boat with less sail area.
Nahid, my wife asked many mixed teams in F18, F20, Tornado and other classes about their weights
and more than 70% are over the 140kg.
We should have a higher minimum weight to represent real world athletes.

CSN:Final thoughts on the Trials and outcomings
RG: We can't wait!
We feel that it is bad that the new Hi Tech F18s have stopped their campaigns, we are unsure why,
maybe you know more Martin? We would have loved to see more boats there!
As the only class association lead boat at the trials, we feel that we are strongly positioned to offer
great value as we don’t have a profit motive. Just a motive to offer spectacular ‘Olympic ring’
winning races for the public, media and IOC.
It is nice to see that the AC45s are upgrading their wings with more sail area to deliver more
performance in light winds for media, spectators and sponsors. The forecast for Rio de Janeiro and
the summer Olympics is mostly light winds. We are surprised the bigger boats didn't come along to
the trials.
We believe that a new boat will change nothing. We must change the racing system. To get more
nations we need supplied boats for ISAF World Cup Events, World- and Continental Champs and
Olympics. That’s why the Laser is so successful. This system can also work for Olympic Multihull
To get the media, spectators and sponsors we need a real flyer, let Multihull win the media award
The decision is now with the MNAs and evaluation teams to decide what they want. Already the
MNAs have lost the Star and the Elliots. Maybe they need new surfboards too. Imagine how much
money they have lost in this period. Now they must decide if they want the same scenario in
Multihull with a new class or take the proven boats and quality we have. Many nations still have
Tornado's sitting and waiting, they would have no expense.

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