by Sean O'Brien
The 2011 Downunder Pro - Oceanic and Australian Formula Windsurfing Championships concluded on Saturday with an action packed eight races taking place over the four-day regatta at picturesque Jimmy’s Beach, Hawks Nest.
Sean O'Brien (3rd), Wilhelm Schurmann (1st) and Mathias Pinheiro (2nd) - 2011 Downunder Pro
The strong 49 competitors including World number two ranked Formula windsurfer from Brazil, Wilhelm Schurmann (Starboard/Neilpryde) had a challenging trial of races with winds today reaching 25 knots on the course despite taking a long time to fill-in, keeping the competitors waiting anxiously on the beach before the first race began.
Schurmann took the event win dominating the racing by winning seven out of eight races over the event. His second time sailing in this part of New South Wales the Brazilian said:
'This spot is simply incredible! We had winds every single day, it was just perfect for sailing or any outdoor activities for that matter. I was able to bring some other Brazilian friends of mine down this year and we all had a great time! I’ll definitely be back next year once again'.
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 third overall behind Mathias Pinheiro (Starboard/North) by taking two seconds and a third in today’s racing to close the gap on Pinheiro.
O’Brien becomes the Oceanic and Australian Champion for the fifth 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 all the races today really capped it off for me.'
Sam Parker (AUS-3) - 2011 Downunder Pro
Brett Morris (Starboard/North) had a difficult day today sitting 3 points clear of O’Brien before the day’s start however didn’t finish the first race today and was unable to continue his race-winning form from yesterday getting a fourth and an eighth in the final two races today to finish 4 points behind O’Brien and 2 points clear of Sam Parker (JP/Neilpryde) in fifth overall.
A new division for the sailors new to the Formula Windsurfing class called ‘Formula Experience Plus’ (FE+) was run for the fourth 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 then the top sailors. This class has seen the biggest growth in the past few seasons with 16 competitors taking part in this year’s event. The division was dominated by local sailors from NSW and surrounds with Tim Ford (JP/Neilpryde) taking the win ahead of Barry Fawkes (Starboard/Neilpryde) and James Farley (F2/MauiSails).
Anthony Woodrow (AUS-808) - 2011 Downunder Pro
In the Youth division a World-Class fleet competed with event winner and second time overall champion at this event, Christian Justesen (JP/Neilpryde) came all the way downunder from Denmark to finish ahead of Nick Austen (Starboard/Point-7) and Ben Morrell (Starboard/Neilpryde) to take the $500 cash prize from Staminade. Multiple time Australian title holder Rick Murray (Starboard/North) won a very contested Grand-Master division ahead of Wayne Bowness (Gaastra/Gaastra) and Tibor Ferenczy (Starboard/Severne).
Brett Morris (AUS-8) - 2011 Downunder Pro
After the event concluded on Saturday competitors enjoyed a three-course meal at the Hawks Nest Golf Club 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.
After the prizegiving competitors and friends enjoyed a free concert from local outfit 'XYDJ’s' who flew up from Sydney to play the show.
All the prize winners. - 2011 Downunder Pro