by David Wells
US Windsurfing National Championships day 1
Paulo dos Reis at full speed - 2011 Doubletree by Hilton at Berkeley Marina US Windsurfing National Championships
With a billowing fog bank playing peek-a-boo with the Golden Gate Bridge and a nice 20 knot sea breeze filling in across San Francisco Bay the 2011 Doubletree by Hilton at Berkeley Marina US Windsurfing National Championships kicked off in high style.
Hosted by the Berkeley Yacht Club the racers have so far been treated like rock stars with the Yacht Club rolling out the red carpet. As the fleet of international sailors gathered at the Berkeley Marina the word from the locals was '2:30'. The winds here in Berkeley apparently work on a schedule and 2:30pm is go time and true to the local lore at exactly 2:30 the fleet was sent off the beach ready for some Formula Course racing action. Most of the sailors were on 9.5’s or 10.0’s with a smattering of 10.7’s/11’s as they headed out to greet race committee lead Darren Rogers . Rogers had set a flawless windward leeward race course against the dramatic backdrop of the San Francisco skyline featuring two laps for the adults while the juniors course had a shortened weather mark.
As the sequence wound down to the start of race one it was pretty obvious that everyone was thinking 'Port-o-Rico' with the entire fleet starting on starboard tack. The Puerto Rico Formula worlds had just wrapped over the weekend and many of the sailors were a bit leery of all the carnage caused by Port tack starting sailors who had paid little regard for starboard tack boards resulting in much carnage on the starting line. The wind lightened a bit with lulls touching 10-12mph and gusts still hitting over 20mph with some pretty big shifts across the course. Paolo dos Reis (BRA-3333) was ready for business and absolutely blitzed off the starting line quickly separating himself from the pursuing pack led by Wilhelm Schurmann (BRA-9999). As they approached the leeward mark for the first time no one was really even in sight of dos Reis who had extended big time. Maris (LAT-11) had a nice grip on third place but it looked like fourth place Phil McGain (KA-7) was going to reel him in. That is until a submerged ‘something’ reeled in McGain sending him over the bars just before the leeward mark. Paolo sailed on to an easy win with Schurmann taking second.
The start - 2011 Doubletree by Hilton at Berkeley Marina US Windsurfing National Championships
Race two saw the fleet settle in a bit and this time 5 sailors were willing to give port tack starting a try with winds now having filled in to a solid 20-25mph across the bay. This was bad news for Phil McGain who had gone in to change up to his 11 meter sail. Unfortunately for the port tack fleet it just didn’t pay as they ducked the stern of nearly the entire fleet and at the same time headed over to the un-favored side of the course but at least there were no collisions and no protests. Once again dos Reis got off clean only this time he couldn’t shake Wilhelm Schurmann who was just within striking distance. dos Reis was over standing nearly all the marks while Schurmann was calling near perfect lay lines making for a really tight duel. Xavier Ferlet (GBR-451) was just out of reach of the top two and would need them to make a mistake if he was to catch up. As they headed back up for lap 2 the wind now was really blowing 25mph+ with gusts reaching higher and dos Reis simply put the hammer down with angle and board speed no one could match. By the time he reached the finish line he had put a 27 second delta on second place Schurmann.
By the end of race two blue skies had emerged and the wind was now officially stonking prompting RC head Rogers to give the fleet a break to change sails before calling them back out for more action. As race three kicked into gear most of the Junior retired for the day in conditions that would have caused many adult fleets to call it a day. With rolling 2-3 ft swell and 25-30mpg winds it was not for the faint of heart. Bay area local junior sailors Jack and Charlie Lundquist were the lone kids to brave the windy conditions something they are both used given it happens pretty regularly. They will likely be richly rewarded for their efforts when it’s time to hand out the titles this Saturday. Paulo dos Reis once again sailed away from the fleet with Wilhelm Schurmann again taking second and Xavier Ferlet took third.
Race 4 saw the pattern again repeat itself for the top two slots in a now more tame 20mph breeze with the locals starting to show some muster and closing the gap on the two storming Brazilians. Steve Sylvester (S3) used all his local knowledge and solid board speed to put up a third place result just ahead of Xavier Ferlet and Steve Bodner took fifth.
Brazilians Paulo dos Reis (left) and Wilhelm Schurmann locked in battle - 2011 Doubletree by Hilton at Berkeley Marina US Windsurfing National Championships
As the day wrapped up it became clear the 2011 World #2 Paulo dos Reis had an iron tight grip on the Nationals title. The action continues Wednesday July 13th, with a likely agenda of more Formula Racing. Both Slalom Windsurfing and Freestyle windsurfing will come front and center likely on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. With that said you never know what the wind will do for sure so if it blows big expect that agenda to change a bit. Spectators can enjoy near ideal viewing conditions out on the Berkeley Marina pier or from the water’s edge on the south side of the Berkeley Marina basin.
1. Paulo dos Reis BRA-3333
2. Wilhelm Schurmann BRA-9999
3. Xavier Ferlet GBR-451
4. Steve Bodner USA-4
5. Phil McGain KA-7
Complete Results (available soon)
The event is sponsored by the Doubletree by Hilton at Berkeley Marina, Starboard Windsurfing, Severne, Maui Sails, F4 Fins, Gul Wetsuits, Dakine, Windsport, Visit Berkeley, Longboard Vineyards, Skates by the Bay, GU, Abk Boardsports, UltraNectar, Goya, Bic Windsurifng, Green Layer, Waterhound.com
Special thanks to the Berkeley Yacht Club and all the volunteers who are making it happen.
Photo Gallery: click here
Official Event Website: here