5 races in building winds allowed the competitors for the Downunder Pro, Formula Windsurfing Oceanic & Australian Championships a chance to warmup during the Official Warmup Event before the Championships begin on Wednesday.
As an important tune-up event for the 2013 Downunder Pro Oceanic & Australian Championships this week, 46 competitors from all over Australia and the world arrived at Hawks Nest for the two day competition which served as Heat 5 of the NSW Windsurf Tour.
The talent included Jesper Vesterstrøm from Denmark, who had previously won this event and placed 7th at the 2011 Formula Windsurfing World Championships, multiple-time Downunder Pro champion Wilhelm Schurmann from Brazil, 6-time defending Australian Champion Sean O'Brien from Australia, in form Youth Champion Christian Justesen from Denmark as well as a bunch of sailors from as far as France, Belgium, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, as well as multiple contenders from Australia.
Greeted with a forecast of 15-25 knots the sailors were eager to get out on the water on the first day of racing with 5 races being run over the day as the winds increased over 25 knots by late in the afternoon. Schurmann led from the start taking the first race win before battling with Vesterstrøm to finish with 2 wins and 3 seconds, with Vesterstrøm taking 3 wins, 1 second and a 6th to win the overall event by a point. O'Brien battled most of the day with young Justesen, finishing in 3rd overall with 4 thirds after the drop and Justesen 3 fourths and a 3rd to finish in 4th overall behind O’Brien.
On the Saturday evening, sailors were treated to an "Aussie style" beach BBQ with all competitors across all the windsurfing classes at this championship (over 100 competitors) attending the beach festivities.
Sunday looked more promising to have even stronger winds with the forecast showing strong wind warnings over 30 knots for the Hunter Coast area following the destructive path of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald which is currently travelling down the east-coast of Australia north of Brisbane and leaving devastating floods, tornadoes and gale-force winds in its path.
Sadly, all the sailors were able to receive from the cyclone was torrential rain and racing was called off for the day with no starts on Sunday as the forecasts 25-35 knots did not produce and once again the Hawks Nest carpark was flooded after 100mm of rain overnight and during the day.
With the new 2013 rules 5 races are allowed each day, with the race committee taking advantage of this completing 5 races on Saturday to give the sailors one drop for the event. Vesterstrom (Gaastra/Gaastra) took the event win 1 point clear of Schurmann (Neilpryde/Starboard) and O’Brien (Severne/Starboard). Vesterstrøm, who has recently become an Australian resident, had been training and preparing for the event in Sydney since December and had definitely acclimatised to the warm temperatures and strong winds Australia has to offer through the summer.
Another fantastic event at beautiful Hawks Nest and a great chance for everyone to tune up before the 2013 Downunder Pro Oceanics & Australian Championships start this Wednesday.
Results / Photos by Rob Plim