The 2012 Downunder Pro – Oceanic and Australian Formula Windsurfing Championships concluded on Saturday with an action packed 7 races taking place over the four-day regatta at picturesque Jimmy’s Beach, Hawks Nest.[more] The strong 58 competitors, including World #1 from Brasil, Paulo Dos Reis (Patrik/North) had a challenging trial of races with a last attempt at starting Race 8 on Saturday afternoon taking place at 3.30pm, with the winds filling in to 6-10 knots for an hour, late in the afternoon; not long enough to complete a valid race.
Dos Reis took the event win dominating the racing by winning all 7 races over the event ahead of Jesper Vesterstrom (Starboard/North) from Denmark, and Wilhelm Schurmann (Starboard/Neilpryde) from Brasil. It was Dos Reis’ first time sailing in this part of New South Wales and the Brasilian said about the event after taking home the first prize of a return-ticket airfare from event sponsors Qantas Airlines:
“This was the first time I’ve come to Australia and I was very impressed with the hospitality and the great racing conditions. It was windy, and that’s the conditions I like, so I’m very happy to win and I will definitely be back next year.”
One of the event organisers and defending champion Sean O’Brien (Starboard/Point-7) was the first Australian over the line coming in a clear 5th overall and just 2 points behind 4th placed Mathias Pinheiro (Starboard/North) from Brasil. O’Brien becomes the Oceanic and Australian Champion for the 6th time now as international competitors are ineligible for the title. Having raced in Hawks Nest for over 12 years now, O’Brien said of the event:
“We picked this beach to run the event for more than just the quality sailing it produces. It’s got a small town vibe which is great for families who compete, there’s plenty of other things to do for the non-windsurfers and the conditions this place produces are absolutely World-Class. I had a great event and punishing Mathias in the last race really capped it off for me.”
Brett Morris (Starboard/North) had a battle on his hands finishing 2nd Australian and 6th overall in the event, just 2 points ahead of Luke Baillie (Gaastra/Neilpryde) from Brisbane. Despite the race crew’s attempts at getting a final lightwind race in today to cap off the event, Brett was able to hold on to his 2nd Australian position, despite sitting deep in the standings during the final race attempt today, with Baillie just nipping at the heels of race leaders Schurmann and Vesterstrøm.
A new division for the sailors new to the Formula Windsurfing class called ‘Free Formula’ was run for the fifth 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 sail one less lap than the top sailors. This class has seen the biggest growth in the past few seasons with 22 competitors taking part in this year’s event. The division was dominated by Darryl Griffiths (Starboard/Severne) from Western Australia, ahead of Tim Ford (JP/Neilpryde) and Adam Craven (JP/Neilpryde).
In the Youth division a World-Class fleet competed with event winner and 2nd time overall champion at this event, Aldo ‘Bebeko’ Maia (Starboard/North) came all the way downunder from Brasil to finish ahead of Reece Baillie (Starboard/Neilpryde) and Laird O’Brien (Exocet/Neilpryde) to take home a new mobile phone from event sponsor, Blackberry. Multiple time Australian title holder Wayne Bowness (Gaastra/Gaastra) won a very contested Grand-Master division ahead of Tim Wood (Gaastra/Gaastra) from England but based in New Zealand, and local legend Rick Murray (Starboard/North).
After the event concluded on Saturday competitors enjoyed a fantastice meal at ‘Benchmark’ restaurant and function centre as part of the Prizegiving Ceremony with major sponsors Qantas and Blackberry handing out a number of new handsets and round-the-world plane tickets to the division winners.