A giant leap for Tornado sailingHugh Styles and Adam May became the first Brits to take a Tornado Sport for a burn, when they went for a training session last weekend at Stokes Bay Sailing Club. Styles, recently returned from South Africa where he won bronze at the last world championships in the traditional configuration, shared his initial thoughts about the new set-up with madforsailing.
"The RIB had a hard time keeping up with us - upwind and downwind," said Styles. "It was a puffy breeze, ranging from 5-13 knots, and we were fully twin trapezing in the higher winds. Our initial feeling was that the boat is faster and higher upwind. This was a bit of a surprise really, but it seems the knack is to bear off a bit and lean hard into the jib to get the windward hull flying. Then when it starts to take off you can get head up for height and retain the same pace."
Even at this early stage, Styles reckons the souped-up Tornado feels "more refined and more powered up" than the Formula 18 cats, in whose world championship he finished fourth last year. "It's a silky ride compared with the F18, and very nicely balanced on the tiller."Styles and May are currently using Ullman sails from Germany, but he believes there is a lot more to come from the rig. "We had a few issues, especially in the head area of the mainsail, but we will iron those things out fairly quickly."
The world champions from Australia, Darren Bundock and John Forbes, have also been early movers into the new set-up. They believe the new configuration will make the Tornado one of the fastest craft on the water. After double trapezing downwind the entire length of Sydney Harbour in 15 knots of breeze, they commented: "There was a fleet of 18-foot skiffs on the Harbour training for their world championships. It's amazing how slow we made them all look - the race was not even close."
Styles believes the speed of the new Tornado will send it round the track at very similar pace to a 49er, slightly faster upwind and about the same downwind. One of the great advantages from the crew's point of view is that the 'Wild Thing' - where the crew sits on the leeward float just behind the shroud - will not be necessary with the gennaker. No more nasal washes, as both crew are likely to sit on the windward float or in the middle of the trampoline. "We'll be heating it up for speed and to get the hull flying then taking it back down again," said Styles. "I don't think we'll be trapezing, though."
Gybing is made very much easier, because of the higher speed before the wind, but manoeuvres at the top and bottom marks will be a tactical minefield - very much like the 49er - and will in Styles' view, "require a lot of forward planning". The boat that gets around cleanly in front would make a huge jump on any rafts that develop at the leeward gate, with the potential for much bigger gaps in the fleet, he predicted.
Steve Lovegrove, who used to sail with Styles and is now mounting his own Tornado campaign, told madforsailing he believed the new rig and set-up would upset the status quo and traditional pecking order of the Tornado fleet. "My first impressions are that it's pretty exciting to sail but I don't really think it's going to dynamically change the racing," commented Lovegrove, who runs the Ullman loft in Hamble and is developing his own sails for the new Tornado.
"As with all Olympic classes the thrill of sailing the boat has become a secondary factor and the emphasis is in the competing and winning the medals. Hopefully the changes they have made are going to encourage stronger competition and break the mould of the typical Tornado sailor. The same names have been around for too long - it's time for a change!"