by Sean O'Brien
As an important tune-up event for the Downunder Pro Oceanics & Australian Championships this week, 47 competitors from all over Australia and the world arrived at Hawks Nest for the two day competition which served as Heat 5 of the NSW Windsurfing Series.
Chris Ting (AUS-5) - Downunder Pro 2011
The talent included Downunder Pro defending champion Wilhelm Schurmann from Brazil,
Multiple time Australian Title winner Jesper Vesterstrøm from Denmark and defending Australian Champion Sean O’Brien from Australia as well as a bunch of sailors as far as France, Japan, Great Britain, Guernsey, Greece and New Zealand on top of all the local Aussie contingent.
Greeted with a forecast of 20 knots the sailors were eager to get out on the water, however, the wind failed to come through and after 3-4 hours of teasing and two attempts at dropping the AP (postponement flag) for racing, the sailors were sent home with no racing completed on the Saturday.
Back on the beach it was interesting to see all the new gear. Lots of guys out with new fins from VMG Blades, Kashy and Z Fins, a plethora of Starboard LWRs and HWRs, brand new sails from Neil-Pryde, North and MauiSails and plenty of customised boom backends, double chicken-strap plates amongst other contraptions. After a long hot day on the beach waiting, the sailors were able to head home around 5pm to rest and recover for the better looking forecast on Sunday.
Jesper Vesterstrom (DEN-111) - Downunder Pro 2011
Sunday looked more promising to stick with the forecast and Race 1 was able to get underway by midday with winds increasing from 9 knots to 17 knots on the course with many sailors being caught out on big 12m sails. Wilhelm Schurmann took an early lead at the top mark followed by Jesper Vesterstrøm and Sean O’Brien in third with the order staying the same throughout the second lap in to the finish.
After a quick break to allow sailors to change down sizes the wind increased against the forecast to 24-28 knots and many sailors including Sean O’Brien were caught out on their big sails and struggled around the course with many sailors crashing out on the downwind legs. Vesterstrøm was able to cement his speed on the course in Race 2 taking the bullet ahead of Schurmann with Steph Walsh taking third ahead of Mathias Pinheiro from Brazil.
Sean O'Brien (AUS-120) - Downunder Pro 2011
Race 3 and 4 were repeats again with the wind relentless at 25-28 knots and the chop becoming quite difficult for the sailors. The back to back racing didn’t allow any time to change rigs between races and Sean O’Brien missed Race 3 using the time to fix some problems with his boom before making it out again for Race 4.
At the front of the fleet, Schurmann and Vesterstrøm battled and won another race a piece with Vesterstrøm taking the final Race 4 win allowing him to beat his Brazilian rival on a countback. Current NSW Windsurfing Series leader Sam Parker cemented his podium finish for the event with two third’s in Race 3 and 4 to beat Mathias Pinheiro by 1 point overall on to the podium. Tim Ford managed to take out the Formula Experience Plus division, beating Barry Fawkes and Mick Saunders overall.
Another fantastic event at beautiful Hawks Nest and a great chance for everyone to tune up before the 2011 Downunder Pro Oceanics & Australian Championships start on Wednesday.
Jesper Vesterstrom (DEN-111) & Brett Morris (AUS-8) - Downunder Pro 2011