Rio 2016 Equipment trials: The mixed catamarans

James Boyd Photography /
We look at the Tornado, Viper, Hobie 16 and Tiger and the Spitfire S offerings
Following one of the most terrible decisions made by the ISAF Council to remove the catamaran from the Olympic roster for this year’s Games, so the catamaran is to make a welcome reappearance for Rio 2016, but this time with a mixed crew. A considerable amount of mixed sailing does take place in catamarans – in fact a lot more than we first thought, particularly in the Hobie 16, the F16 and the F18 classes. But while a catamaran in the Games is certainly better than no catamaran and we like the egalitarian nature of what a mixed crew represents, we’re not convinced that it will prove a success in the Olympic Games. In fact most competitors we have polled who have been to the Games previously in the Tornado would prefer it to be a single-sex boat, or ideally two classes for men and women, for we suspect in years to come the mixed crew multihull will be dubbed ‘the marriage breaker’. As multihull designer Yves Loday, the Tornado gold medallist from the Barcelona Games in 1992, pointed out to us: “One guy who is just married - there is no way that his wife will let him spend 100 days a year with another woman!” In terms of the equipment there have been some key stipulations laid down by ISAF. These include: - the sailors combined weight will be within the 120-140 kg range - Sloop rig with an asymmetrical spinnaker - FRP construction of hulls - Two part mast - Twin trapeze - Unsinkable when holed or swamped with approximately level floatation. - Able to be shipped in a 6.1m (20ft) container - Trailerable maximum width 2.59m (8ft 6in) - Racing is expected to be held in winds in the range 5 to 25 knots The idea behind the 20ft container and two part mast is that it allows emerging nations, who are unlikely to be shipping an