Could a new upwind spinnaker put the Dutch Tornado team on the pedestal?
Last week, Dutch Team Zwitserleven Booth/Nieuwenhuis revealed its revolutionary sail for the Olympic competition in China. Because of the expected light winds in Qingdao, the Tornado duo focused on developing a special gennaker. It is a lot flatter and smaller then the regular gennakers used on the Tornado. That allows the team to use this sail upwind in anything under 12 knots, something which is impossible with the traditional gennaker. Mitch Booth and Pim Nieuwenhuis believe that this will give them a big edge over the other competitors in the predominant light breezes of Qingdao.
‘This afternoon, we were able to show its potential for the first time’, said helmsman Mitch Booth on Monday evening. After several days of unusual strong winds, today the conditions were perfect for the new sail, 5-10 knots with plenty of chop and current. These are the normal conditions for Qingdao and Mitch Booth commented: ?We sailed laps around the other five boats that joined us on the water and I think they will be scratching their heads tonight. We are fully stretched on the wire in 5-7 knots of breeze, while the other crews are still sitting on the hull.’ For months Booth and Nieuwenhuis kept their sail secret while developing it with designer Jay Glaser (USA) and sailmaker Ullman Sails Italy. They worked together with the teams from the USA and Puerto Rico to test and develop. No other competitors where allowed near the training facilities to keep the sail secret as long as possible.
Now it became clear that the Dutchmen were working on a special gennaker. Booth: ?This sail is approximately seven square meters smaller then a conventional ones for the Tornado and it has a very flat shape. This allows us to use it upwind as well, which is the big advantage over other teams that are only able to use their gennakers downwind.’ About the risk of different circumstances during the Olympic Regatta, Mitch commented: ?We can survive in the medium and strong air, but will have a huge benefit in the light conditions. We don?t expect strong wind during this regatta, otherwise we wouldn’t have chosen this direction.