What chance of an 11th Medal for the Multihull? Carolijn Brouwer speaks

Carolijn Brouwer is a talented sailor who has competed in three Olympic Games in three different classes. Most recently it was steering the Tornado in Qingdao, the only woman in the fleet. The Belgian sailor is also President of the International Tornado Association (ITA), and so SailJuice contacted Brouwer to find out the latest on the possibility of a multihull getting back into the Olympics for Weymouth 2012.

March 2009

SailJuice (SJ): Hi Carolijn, what do you know?

Carolijn Brouwer (CB): The IOC have a meeting around the middle of August when the 11th medal should be discussed. The ISAF mid-year meeting is coming up in May in Poland, and the ITA has put in a submission to ISAF concerning the 11th medal and the multihull and Tornado. The problem with the mid-year meeting is that only submissions deemed urgent will be considered, that's up to ISAF Executive to decide.

Carolijn Brouwer and Sebastien Godefroid at the 2008 Games
© Olivier Hosler: Carolijn Brouwer and Sebastien Godefroid at the 2008 Games

In November in Madrid, Goran Petersson said that November this year would be too late to decide on equipment for an 11th medal, and he thought it would be better if this was decided in May. So if they consider what Goran said, then it should be discussed properly at the mid-year meeting.

SJ: What is the Tornado class doing in readiness for a decision, if it goes the right way? Have you come up with any ways of making the boat cheaper, for example?

CB: We have done what ISAF asked us to do. If a multihull does get back in, the Tornado is already there, the sailors are on hold - waiting for a decision. It would be the most simple way to put multihull sailing back into the Olympics. As for the issue of expense, that is a hard one to explain. We've got a lot of experience of sailors who have done other campaigns and by comparison the Tornado is just not that expensive. It's a high quality boat. I sailed the Games in Qingdao with our oldest boat, which was almost four years old. Other teams competed with boats more than four years old and one was eight years old. You can easily do an Olympic cycle with one boat. I've just been buying a bunch of Laser Radial sails, which people say don't last more than one regatta. In my first season in the Tornado I had one main, one jib and one spinnaker for the whole year.

Remember it was ISAF who asked us to upgrade the boat to the Tornado Sport [back in November 2000]. I wasn't involved in the class back then, but speaking to the sailors who were involved then, not all the sailors wanted the change, but it was something the sailors went with. ISAF said if you want to keep your Olympic status, that's what you have to do. People liked the change, it's a nicer boat for the change.

SJ: Obviously the costs of an Olympic campaign are more complex than the price of the boat, but still there is a massive correlation between the cost of equipment and the number of participants. Look at how successful the Radial has become for example, more popular even than the Europe...

CB: It [the issue of campaign costs] should be clearer at ISAF, perhaps it's not fully understood. The Radial wins not because it's a nice boat but because of nation participation. Different boats are in the Olympics for different reasons, I think. The Tornado deserves to be in the Games. Had it not been up against the Star in that vote in November 2007, then it would still be there. There's no class that would have beaten the Star, they have a strong political lobby in ISAF.

Carolijn Brouwer and Sebastien Godefroid in the Tornado
© Andrea Francolini: Carolijn Brouwer and Sebastien Godefroid in the Tornado

SJ: If the multihull doesn't get back in, what options have you considered? Did you think about the the women's match racing?

CB: No, I don't have any experience in match racing. I did the match racing worlds in 2001 after the Sydney Olympics. I had a lot of fun, I remember back then it was the whole issue of whether it would be Olympic or not. It didn't happen then. I've been to three Olympics in three different classes, and maybe I'm going to be forced to do that again, but maybe I should stick to one thing a little bit longer. Changing would mean to changing to a completely new discipline. It doesn't appeal to me that much. If they get act together then the match racing could be something good, but right now it doesn't look that way.

Until the IOC decision, I'll be sailing the Radial. In the worst case scenario I can consider the Laser Radial as a backup. I'm still receiving funding but the Belgian Federation can't have me sitting around for a season waiting for a decision to be taken. So for the moment I'm sailing the Radial. Going back to my roots, I suppose you could say. And then there is Formula 18 sailing and steering the Holmatro Extreme 40, so there is lots going on this season.

SJ: What about the announcement of the ISAF Olympic Commission, with Phil Jones heading it up?

CB: That's great news, fantastic. I think that's a very good step in the right direction. For years we've been speaking about how ISAF needs to have a clear strategy and there has been very little action. Phil is the right kind of guy to move things along. I'm not saying ISAF will change overnight, that's a long process. But this is a very big step in the right direction.

Are you signed up to Sailjuice Essential? It's our free monthly newsletter full of advice, tips and techniques from the world's best sailors. What's more, we'll send you a free copy of our ebook Sail Different – guaranteed to bring some fresh ideas to your sailing.

Click the button below and take your sailing to the next level!