Catamaran technique - part 5


McMillan and Bulkeley storming along at Cadiz
 

McMillan and Bulkeley storming along at Cadiz

GBR Tornado Olympic rep Leigh McMillan gives us his advice on how to drive hard downwind
Leigh McMillan and Mark Bulkeley have shot from relative obscurity into the Olympic spotlight, following victory at Spa Regatta in the Tornado, backed up with a second place at the World Championships in Cadiz. They have emerged as real contenders for a medal at the 2004 Games. One of their widely acknowledged strengths is their ability to drive the cat hard downhill, keeping the pedal to the metal a little longer than others dare to. Here, helmsman Leigh tells Andy Rice about his approach to this high-adrenaline part of cat racing. Over the past year we’ve become pretty quick downwind, especially in waves. We owe a lot of that to one of the other top Brits, Rob Wilson. Last year he was outstanding, one of the quickest people in the world downwind. We were training with him and gradually grinding him down, working out what he was doing differently and applying it. Now we're very happy with our downwind speed. Mark works very hard on body movement, I think we’re more mobile than others, and we’re very precise about getting body positioning right. There is a lot of technique, some of which I can’t really explain, it’s just stuff we do. The fastest way downwind is with the windward hull lifted, and driving on the leeward hull. One of the key things is that Tornados can go faster and faster, but they don’t have the buoyancy in the bow to cope with it beyond a certain point. So when it’s getting too hairy, we let the windward hull skim the wave tops just to provide that extra safety margin. But the more you drop the windward hull in the water, the slower you go and the more you lose the apparent wind that you’d generated. It's about how close to

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