by Sean O'Brien
The NSW Windsurf Tour, which serves as a warm-up event for the 2013 Downunder Pro Oceanic and Australian Championship this week, provided ideal racing conditions on Tuesday as 46 windsurfers coming from different parts of Australia and the world strut their wares at Hawks Nest.
Vesterstrom (DEN) and Schurmann (BRA) battle downwind
The talent included Jesper Vesterstrøm from Denmark, who had previously won this event and placed seventh at the 2011 Formula Windsurfing World Championships, multiple-time Downunder Pro champion Wilhelm Schurmann from Brazil, six-time defending Australian Champion Sean O’Brien from Australia, in form Youth Champion Christian Justesen from Denmark as well as a bunch of sailors from as far as France, Belgium, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, as well as multiple contenders from Australia.
Wilhelm Schurmann (BRA), Sean O’Brien (AUS) and Jesper Vesterstrom (DEN) take the podium spots - 2013 Downunder Pro
Greeted with a forecast of 15-25 knots the sailors were eager to get out on the water on the first day of racing with five races being run over the day as the winds increased over 25 knots by late in the afternoon. Schurmann led from the start taking the first race win before battling with Vesterstrøm to finish with two wins and three seconds, with Vesterstrøm taking three wins, one second and a sixth to win the overall event by a point. O’Brien battled most of the day with young Justesen, finishing in third overall with four thirds after the drop and Justesen three fourths and a third to finish in fourth overall behind O’Brien.
Sean O'Brien heads upwind. - 2013 Qantas Downunder Pro
On the Saturday evening, sailors were treated to an ‘Aussie style’ beach BBQ with all competitors across all the windsurfing classes at this championship (over 100 competitors) attending the beach festivities.
Sunday looked more promising to have even stronger winds with the forecast showing strong wind warnings over 30 knots for the Hunter Coast area following the destructive path of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald, which is currently travelling down the east-coast of Australia north of Brisbane and leaving devastating floods, tornadoes and gale-force winds in its path.
Danish Jesper Vesterstrom heads to the beach - 2013 Downunder Pro
Sadly, all the sailors were able to receive from the cyclone was torrential rain and racing was called off for the day with no starts on Sunday as the forecasts 25-35 knots did not produce and once again the Hawks Nest carpark was flooded after 100mm of rain overnight and during the day.
With the new 2013 rules five races are allowed each day, with the race committee taking advantage of this completing five races on Saturday to give the sailors one drop for the event. Vesterstrøm (Gaastra/Gaastra) took the event win one point clear of Schurmann (Neilpryde/Starboard) and O’Brien (Severne/Starboard). Vesterstrøm, who has recently become an Australian resident, had been training and preparing for the event in Sydney since December and had definitely acclimatised to the warm temperatures and strong winds Australia has to offer through the summer.
Danish Jesper Vesterstrom checks the course in front of some MASSIVE swells - 2013 Downunder Pro
Another fantastic event at beautiful Hawks Nest and a great chance for everyone to tune up before the 2013 Downunder Pro Oceanic and Australian Championships start this Wednesday.