Olympic Sailing

NBC has a nice page dedicated to the sailing events at the 2008 Olympics. I almost never see any coverage or even mention of the sailing events:

Up to 3,000 categories of sailboats reportedly exist around the world, each class with its own set of rules and specifications. At the Olympics, 11 events are contested in nine different types of boats. Boats compete in fleet races, with each regatta lasting a series of days.

Good luck to my fellow A-Class catamaran sailors Charlie and Johnny! You can donate to their campaign if you want to give support to today’s top American sailors.

The Tornado is my favorite Olympic boat by far. It remains on the forefront of wind-power technology, even though it was introduced in the late 1960s.

Appropriately named, the Tornado responds immediately to wind and waves, and is all about speed. The only multi-hull in the Games, its light weight and large sail area make it the fastest Olympic boat, reaching 30-knots. The Tornado is highly susceptible to capsizing and the crew must have quick reflexes in order to keep the boat afloat.

The Tornado is the only open class boat at the Games, meaning both men and women compete in the event. It was designed in Great Britain in 1966 specifically for Olympic competition, and first appeared at the Games ten years later. Its design has been revised over the years to optimize speed and technology.

After a vote among national governing bodies, the International Sailing Federation decided in late 2007 that the Tornado would make its last appearance at the 2008 regatta, and would not be on the roster for the 2012 Games in London.

Oh, well. Who knows what the stodgy old white men in blue blazers of the ISAF were thinking when they decided to cancel the Tornado program. They probably did not want men and women sailing together on a team. Or maybe they just thought sail boats should not be exciting machines in and of themselves. The London races will be sailed in oak barrels and bathtubs.

The US Tornado team is using radical a new sail design specifically meant to enhance efficiency in the conditions in China. Should be fun to watch.

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