by Sean O'Brien
Downunder Pro Formula Windsurfing Championships 2012 first day of competition got off to a brutal start with the rain and winds playing havoc for the competitors. Arriving to a flooded rigging area and wet gear storage, the forecasted 30 knot onshore winds held true and the first race kicked off at 2pm with almost zero visibility on the course with the rain squalls and winds gusting from 10 knots up to 30 knots and beyond. The 58 competitors rigged an assortment of smaller sails as the wind continued to hammer down the course all afternoon and three races were knocked out over the afternoon.
Sean O'Brien leads the Australians - Downunder Pro 2012
Current World number one sailor from Brazil, Paulo Dos Reis (Patrik/North) dominated the day with three wins from three starts despite not actually passing the top mark in first position during any of the three races. The Brazilian's incredible speed downwind, muscling his 11.0m sail in the early races, before switching down to 10.0m allowed him to pass Jesper Vesterstrøm (Starboard/North) from Denmark who nailed two second’s behind Dos Reis before a shaky double-gybe on the last mark in race three put him back to fifth.
Brazilians Wilhelm Schurmann (Starboard/Neilpryde) and Mathias Pinheiro (Starboard/North) had a consistent day despite the gusty and shifty winds and are currently sitting in third and fourth overall.
The defending Australian champion Sean O’Brien (Starboard/Point-7) had a mixed day finishing sixth in race one before taking two fourth’s behind the Brazilians to be in fifth overall after day one, and just two points ahead of his next Australian rivals Brett Morris (Starboard/North) and Byron McIllveen (Patrik/Point-7).
Conditions on the course were difficult for the sailors with the rain squalls making it very hard to see the marks on the course and the south-east direction of the wind causing large ocean swells to pump in through the headlands and on to the course; making for very bumpy and choppy conditions with the strong winds.
With the forecast for the next few days looking like nuclear strong winds over 30 knots again, the spectators at Jimmy’ Beach, Hawk Nest can again expect a great Formula Windsurfing display if they can brave the rain.
The 2012 Downunder Pro Formula Windsurfing Championships will run until Saturday 5th February.