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.[more]
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 Vesterstrom (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.