The final leg of the 2017 European FW Championships came to the south of Italy in Gallipoli. Hosted by the beautiful Ecoresort Le Sirene on the beach, the location is a simply stunning place to windsurf with clear waters and rigging on metres from the water.
It was a small fleet for this final event of the Formula Windsurfing European Championship Series, but there was hot competition for the title. Michal Polanowski was a clear favourite after coming 2nd and 1st at the first 2 legs, with Hubert Mokrzycki in 2nd and Sean O'Brien in 3rd. There were only 3 points between Hubert, Sean and Pawel Pawel Dittrich in 4th.
The forecast was grim for the first day of competition which finished with no racing despite a few flurries of rigging when the wind picked up to around 5-6 knots briefly. Sailors were released at the end of the day to relax in the resort.
On Thursday the winds kicked in around 12pm with a gusty 7-11 knots - enough to get the sailors out on the water for the first time.
The wind was quite up and down over the first race with the small fleet spreading out. Michal Polanowski was able to connect the gusts to take a large win of over a few minutes ahead of Hubert Mokrzycki as the race took over 35 minutes and the course was shortened to finish at the last upwind buoy to keep within the time limits. Christofer Frank and Giuseppe Greco then Sean O?Brien made up the Top 5.
Race 2 was started straight away with a much shortened course and a lit bit more consistent wind sitting around 8-10 knots. Polanowski again dominated start to finish with O'Brien and Mokrzycki taking 2nd and 3rd. The winner out of O'Brien and Mokrzycki for the event would decide who was 2nd for the overall European Title as they were separated by only 1 point.
After a short lunch break the sailors were back out on the water for 2 more back-to-back races. The wind was still around 8-10 knots and a little patchy with some sections of less than 7 knots at times but, with the right choices upwind, it was possible to keep on the plane. Polanowski and O'Brien took 1st and 2nd again in Race 3 followed by Mokrzycki and Pawel Dittrich. The final race of the day, saw Polanowski take the 4th straight win ahead of Mokrzycki, Frank, O'Brien then Allessandro Giovini from Italy.
A solid first day of racing finishing up around 4.30pm.
Day 3 of the FW Europeans was a slow one. The lightest forecast for the event, 5-6 knots maximum, kept the sailors on the beach all day. With 4 races already under the belt for the event there wasn't any momentum to push for racing as Saturday's forecast for the final day looked promising.
With the early declaration of no more racing for the day the sailors were able to escape the hotel grounds and go for some sightseeing in to the nearby old town of Gallipoli or further around this part of south Italy.
The final day of the FW Europeans in Gallipoli got off to a flying start. By midday the race committee had dropped the AP flag for a 12.20pm start for Race 5. The wind had swung to the opposite side, coming from the north (which is toward the city of Gallipoli). The breeze was still fairly light but this direction had a bit more consistency and the first race kicked off in around 8-9 knots with most sailors on their 12.5m's.
Michal Polanowski, the leader of the event dominated the first of 2 back-to-back races taking his tally up to 6 straight bullets. Hubert Mokrzycki also had a consistent day taking 2 2nd's in the first races ahead of Christopher Frank and Sean O'Brien who took 5, 3 and 3,7 respectively.
Around 1.30pm the sailors were sent back to the beach for a lunch break as the wind started to fizzle out. But as the afternoon wore on, the wind swung more to the north-west and strengthened, and sailors were back out on the water by 2.30pm for 3 back-to-back races.
Mokrzycki was finally able to take a bullet from Polanowski in Race 7 with O'Brien posting his worst 2 results with a 7 and 6 but he managed to get his consistency back in the final 2 races nailing a 3rd and 4th.
Polanowski was too good, taking Race 8 and 9 wins brought his haul to 8 out of 9 race bullets, the winner of the event and 2017 European Champion.