Catamaran technique series - part 8

Australian Tornado silver medallist John Forbes describes how to race cats in light breeze
John Forbes’s record in Olympic cat racing is unparalleled. Six Tornado world championships, Silver and Bronze Olympic medals with different helmsmen, he only needs the Gold in Athens to complete his set. Here, the Sydneysider tells Andy Rice about his attitude and approach to light winds. A Tornado sailor said to me and Darren earlier this year, “You guys love light wind.” And I thought, what a strange perception of us. If sailing only took place in light wind, then we probably wouldn't go sailing. I think this guy thought that about us because we won a tricky European Championships in light winds this year at Sardinia. We’re not slow in the light, but I certainly wouldn’t describe it as our favourite conditions either. We're by no means light as a team. We weigh 151kg combined, compared with, say, Roman Hagara at 138kg. But I don’t think that’s as much of a disadvantage in lighter winds as a lot of cat sailors think. We don't really share that obsession with weight. Light weight is only really of importance when you’re just starting to step out on to the trapeze. Before that you've got both hulls in the water, and there's enough volume in the Tornado’s hulls to carry a decent weight. And once you get overpowered, of course, then weight becomes an advantage. So the window of opportunity to make gains is from 7 to 10 knots - it’s a narrow band of advantage for the lightweights. That said, we basically had eight days of that at the Games [in Sydney, where Hagara/Steinacher won Gold and Bundock/Forbes won Silver]. And we have a lot of that wind strength in Europe, especially during the summer. A lot of guys target that wind strength. But we tend to hold our European or