by Sean O'Brien
Sean O'Brien heads upwind. - 2013 Qantas Downunder Pro
No valid races on the last day of the 2013 Qantas Downunder Pro – Formula Windsurfing Championships with 50 knot squalls battering the event for the entire day, leaving the total at five races over the regatta.
The 2013 Qantas Downunder Pro - Oceanic and Australian Formula Windsurfing Championships concluded on Saturday with an action packed five races taking place over the four-day regatta at picturesque Jimmy’s Beach, Hawks Nest. The strong 46 competitors, including 3-time World Champion from Australia, Steve Allen (Starboard/Severne) who had a relaxing day today with enough lead to not actually have to sail the first race if it was started today as it would not affect his winning position.
Overnight, the southerly front that had battered the course all day yesterday and prevented racing, again battered the course, this time with even stronger winds which sat between 40-50 knots for most of the entire day even uprooting a few large trees in the rigging area, luckily not damaging any equipment. Despite hourly updates throughout the day to test the winds and being quick to capitalise on any small windows where the wind receded the race crew were not convinced the conditions were suitable to get a race away today and held the sailors until 4pm before the final AP over A (no more racing for the day) flag was flown, signalling the end of the event.
Race 3 startline. - 2013 Qantas Downunder Pro
Steve Allen (Starboard/Severne) took the event win as well as the Oceanic and Australian Title ahead of Jesper Vesterstrøm (Gaastra/Gaastra) from Denmark, and Wilhelm Schurmann (Starboard/Neilpryde) from Brasil. It was the first time Allen had won the Australian title since winning in 2008 in Brisbane again ahead of Vesterstrøm who has competed in Australia for many years.
Allen said about the event after taking home the first prize of a return-ticket airfare from event sponsors Qantas Airlines:
'Stoked to be back in Australia starting the year on such a roll. My new gear is working insane, I literally rigged up new sails and won straight on them. This is the first time I’ve raced in Hawks Nest and the one day we had was really amazing; beautiful location.'
Vesterstrøm, now an Australian resident and based in Australia over the summer, said of his battle with Allen:
'It was match racing with Steve most of the races. The last race was an epic battle between us, sailing super close, so close that we actually crashed in to each other going upwind. It was neck and neck to the very end, however happy to take that one bullet with Steve less than a board length behind me…'
Defending Australian champion Sean O’Brien (Starboard/Severne) was the next Australian over the line and finished only one point from the podium behind Schurmann after a OCS (disqualified for an early start) cost him a third place against Wilhelm’s fourth in Race 3,
Steve Allen is the 2013 champion! - 2013 Qantas Downunder Pro
O’Brien said about the event:
'Despite not getting a chance to pick at Wilhelm today, I’m pretty happy with the result. I’m on some new sails which I literally rolled new out of the plastic at the event and was instantly on the pace. In all the years Wilhelm has raced here thats the first time I’ve managed to consistently be able to beat him around the course so that was a really cool feeling. Really love racing at this place – bring on 2014!'
Christian Justesen (JP/Neilpryde), travelling all the way downunder from Denmark, took the first placed Youth at this event, had a strong result amongst the open division sailors, finishing in fifth overall ahead of Steve Walsh (JP/MauiSails) from Australia and Remi Dunoyer (Exocet/MauiSails) from France. Tim Wood (Gaastra/Gaastra) the Englishman based in New Zealand, took home the hotly contested Grand Master division ahead of Australian’s Wayne Bowness (Gaastra/Gaastra) and Rick Murray (JP/North)
A new division for the sailors new to the Formula Windsurfing class called ‘Free Formula’ was run for the sixth 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 18 competitors taking part in this year’s event. The division was dominated by Andrew Vacopoulos from New South Wales, ahead of Hayley Thom from New Zealand and Roger Lucas.
After the event concluded on Saturday competitors enjoyed a fantastice meal at ‘Benchmark’ restaurant and function centre as part of the Prizegiving Ceremony with major sponsors Qantas handing out a number of round-the-world plane tickets to the division winners.
The event winners! - 2013 Qantas Downunder Pro
Sean O'Brien and Steve Allen the first 2 placed Australians. - 2013 Qantas Downunder Pro