Competition/Downunder Pro 14
Two Critical Races on the Final Day
With a good forecast of wind for the day, competitors were at the beach early, preparing for the final day of racing at the 2014 Downunder Pro - Formula Windsurfing Oceanic & Australian Championships. The target from the race committee was to run 3 back-to-back races which with only 2 points separating first and second overall, made for an exciting and critical day for the podium spots.
By 1pm racers were out on the water to begin the first race, with light and shifty NE'erly winds around 8-11 knots. Sean O'Brien (Starboard/Severne), starting the day 2 points behind the leader from Denmark, had a good starboard start to lead towards the first mark before a mistake downwind opened the door for his rival Jesper Vesterstrøm (Gaastra/Gaastra) who was able to hold on to the win in the first race, cementing his lead.
O'Brien needed to dig deep in the second race to have a chance to come back and both he and Vesterstrom match-raced in their own pocket of the course, sailing in to a massive wind hole in the second race and were becalmed for almost 2 minutes, allowing third placed overall Luke Baillie (Starboard/Severne) to storm ahead, never looking back and taking the Race 10 win by over 1 minute, with O'Brien hot on his heels in second and Vesterstrom managing to fight back from 5th at the bottom mark on the second lap, to 3rd over the line.
This 3rd place was enough for Vesterstrom to secure the title and the race committee opted to halt racing for the day as the wind became fluky and gusty and suitable racing conditions were lost. The top 3 for the event remained as this morning, Vesterstrom followed by O'Brien then Baillie, with O'Brien taking the Oceanic title and his 7th Australian formula windsurfing title. O'Brien said of the event:
"Pretty happy with the result! The event timing was tricky to have all the new equipment arrive in time so I hadn't had a chance to try one single piece of gear before the event. Amazed with my new Reflex-5 Severne sails and new Starboard 167. I had some secret weapons with a radical new Slake mast and VMG Blades fin which for the first time let me put the pace on Jesper and actually beat him consistently in the lighter winds. Had a really good battle but he got me in the end!"
In the Grand Masters division, a hotly contested division here, Rick Murray (JP/North) was able to hold off Tibor Firenczy (Starboard/Severne) and Glenn Morrell (Starboard/Severne).
A new division for the sailors new to the formula windsurfing class called "Free Formula" was run for the seventh time at a National titles this year. The division allows newer sailors the opportunity to race at the same time as the Pro Division but with shortened courses. The division was dominated by Bruce Healey (Starboard/Severne), Adam Craven (JP/Neilpryde) and Thomas Burkey (Starboard/North).
After the prizegiving at the event host Georges River Sailing Club, competitors enjoyed a meal and beverage at the 'Golden Sheaf' in Double Bay as part of the post event celebrations.
A solid forecast with building winds on Day 2 greeted the competitors ready to kick off the next 5 races at the 2014 Downunder Pro - Formula Windsurfing Oceanic & Australian Championships. With sailors on the water by 12.30 for the first start with gusty winds around 8-12 knots.
Sean O'Brien (Starboard/Severne) began the day strongly taking the first bullet in Race 5 today ahead of Byron McIlveen (Patrik/Point-7) and Luke Baillie (Starboard/Severne). Jesper Vesterstrom (Gaastra/Gaastra), who hadn't been in as quick in the lighter winds had a slow start to the day posting a 4th before finding his gears as the breeze increased over the day.
Determined to challenge for the title, Vesterstrom clawed his way back to the lead by winning the next 4 races in a row ahead of O'Brien, as the winds built across the afternoon reaching 27 knots in the final race, with most of the competitors on their smallest rigs.
Baillie, who was part of the 4-way tie in 4th yesterday, had a solid day and cemented his 3rd place overall today posting a 3rd, 3rd, 5th and 4th ahead of Sam Parker (JP/Neilpryde) and McIllveen, who make up the Top 4.
With the Downunder Pro being the first formula windsurfing event of the year and the new 2-year cycle for boards, the opportunity to see the new equipment performing in a variety of wind conditions over the past 2 days was prominent. O'Brien, using his new Starboard 167 and Severne Reflex-5 11.5m for the majority of races, appeared to dominate in the light/medium wind races over the 2 days, holding out his rival Vesterstrom who was on his Gaastra Vapor 12m and Gaastra Vapor board before thewind turned ballistic later in the afternoon today which appeared to give Vesterstrom a speed advantage which he was able to take advantage of. Baillie, OBrien's teammate, was also on the new Starboard 167, only registering one sail for the event; Severne Reflex-5 10.7m and has been consistent in both the light and strong wind races ahead of Parker on the 2014 JP Formula with Neilpryde EVO V sails and McIlveen on the Patrik Diethelm board and Point-7 AC-1 sails.
Coming in to the final day of racing tomorrow, Vesterstrom leads O'Brien by only 1 point and the title is up for grabs with a proposed 3 races to finish the event and a similar forecast of building NE'erly winds over the day. Can O'Brien claw back the 1 point difference to win the event title and clinch his 7th Australian formula windsurfing title? And can Baillie hang on to his 3rd position overall and make his first podium finish on the formula windsurfing Australian circuit. Tune in tomorrow for all the action.
Racing on Day 1 of the 2014 Downunder Pro - Formula Windsurfing Oceanic & Australian Championships kicked off today at the new venue of Georges River Sailing Club, at the southern end of Botany Bay, Sydney. With relatively light and gusty winds prevailing over the day, 4 races were completed with the results reflecting the tricky and tactical conditions.
6-time Australian Champion from Brisbane, Sean O'Brien (Starboard/Severne) had a great start to the event, with 3 wins in the 4 races and narrowly missing a clean slate of victories after leading the first race until the last few hundred metres before some clever downwind tactics allowed the Danish former World #1, Jesper Vesterstrom (Gaastra/Gaastra) to pass him and take the first race win. Vesterstrom currently sits in 2nd overall posting a 1st, 4th and two 2ndâ€™s after the first day of racing.
The battle for the third spot on the podium is a close one with Nathan Hohnberg (Patrik/MauiSails) currently in the spot but just 1 point ahead of a three-way tie between Rick Murray (JP/North), Brett Morris (Gaastra/Gaastra) and Luke Baillie (Starboard/Severne).
The tricky conditions today allowed for some mixed results as some sailors struggled to find the right gears in the fluky and shifty conditions. 72 year old Tibor Firenczy (Starboard/Severne) found the right gears in the final race of today, leading around the first mark before being run down by O'Brien and Vesterstrom but still finishing a commendable 3rd, keeping him in 7th overall.
The location for the 2014 Downunder Pro Formula Windsurfing Championships is back on Botany Bay in Sydney. One of the glamour locations for Sydney windsurfing and suitable in all directions of wind; this is one of Australia's premier racing locations.
In 2014, the Downunder Pro will be the first Championships of the season for the Formula Windsurfing Class. It's the event of the year in Australia, for which all competitors and some candidates to the title of World Champion, eagerly await. The Regatta is also a Level 1.0 World Ranking Event for FW and will be the first event on the newly registered 2014 equipment, including the first year of the 2-year board registration cycle.
In Summertime, Botany Bay enjoys mostly 10-15 knot gradient winds each day, with the possibility of sea breezes around 15-25 knots (although winds can be stronger up to 30 knots at times); perfect for windsurfing! With average daytime temperatures of 25-33 degrees, spectators and competitors alike can expect to enjoy the brilliant sunshine almost every single day in January.
Over the years, Sydney has been the hub for windsurfing racing on the east coast, and more recently, Storm-Riders Windsurfing Club has been running events from Georges River 16ft Sailing Club, who will be hosting the event in 2014.
The entry list shows the best of the best in FW will compete at these championships, as well as the top-ranked Australians. This includes 6-time Australian Champion Sean O'Brien [AUS-120] and multiple time Australian Championships event winner and former #1 World Ranked sailor from Denmark, Jesper Vesterstrom [DEN-111]. On top of this, a host of Australia's best windsurfers from all over the country will be competing as well as many more internationals from New Zealand and the rest of the world.
The Australian Windsurfing Association invites you to the premier windsurfing event of the summer, right on the doorstep of Australia. This is your invitation to discover a whole new world of sporting regattasâ€¦
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