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Windsurfers still doing it standing up at 40th Anniversary regatta

by David West on 1 Feb 2017
Marathon Action - 40th Anniversary Windsurfer One Design Class National Championships Windsurfer Class Association of Australia
Balmoral Beach, one of Australian windsurfing’s spiritual homes, was the venue for the 40th Anniversary Windsurfer One Design Class (based on the original Windsurfer board) National Championships held 26-29 January.
The event, sponsored by Mobium Group and Namotu Island Fiji, attracted over 80 competitors from all states of Australia, as well as international sailors from Italy, Finland, Norway and the USA.

Balmoral Beach was a great base for the regatta. Competition was held over four days with conditions ranging from 5 – 25 knots which provided a great test for bodies and board handling.

With a fleet that included Olympians, World Champions and numerous Australian and State title holders, the event was the largest and most competitive one design windsurfing event held in Australia in a decade.

Ages ranged from 14 to 70 with the fleet divided into weight divisions for men, juniors and a strong ladies division competing in four disciplines – Course Racing, Slalom, Freestyle and Marathon. A competitor’s overall position is calculated by combining results from all disciplines.

Course Racing
The course racing, which is the highest profile and most important discipline in determining the overall scores, saw seven super competitive heats, with multiple general recalls and ultra-close racing.

After some titanic battles the final results were:
Men’s Lightweight: (1) Tim Gourlay (WA) (2) Rob Treharne (NSW), (3) Mario Vaidiveiso (ITA)
Men’s Mediumweight: (1) Josh Green (QLD), (2) Nick Bez (VIC), (3) Chris Thompson (ACT)
Men’s Heavyweight: (1) Dennis. Winstanley (QLD), (2) Rohan Cudmore (NSW), (3) Stuart Gilbert (NSW)
Men’s Super-Heavyweight: (1) Simon Jones (NSW), (2) Paul Grimshaw (VIC), (3) Gerald Nailon (VIC)
Women: (1) Lanee Beashel (NSW), (2) Mel Webb (NSW), (3) Jannicke Stolstrom (NOR)
Junior: (1) Will Grimshaw (VIC), (2) Max Paul (NSW), Anthony Charlton (NSW)

This event features a knockout competition with the top four in each successive heat progressing through to a final.
Fast and furious, the course features a short beat to windward, then a downwind with multiple gybes over two laps. Slalom favours those with great starting skills and excellent board handling technique.

In the men’s fleet, after a 3 heat final, the overall placings were (1) D. Winstanley, (2) T. Gourlay, (3) R. Treharne
The women had a five race series with a podium of (1) L. Beashel, (2) Annelise. Gilbert (NSW), (3) M. Webb.

Freestyling with Dennis Winstanley
A three minute routine of sail and board tricks, the freestyle takes balance and control to a new level. Sailing the board on its rail or upside down, along with a variety of sail spins racks up the points but don’t drag the boom or fall in - points are deducted by the three judges for errors.

A super tight contest in the men’s saw a tie for first with Rob Treharne and Tim Gourlay equal, then Dennis Winstanley.

In the women’s it was another win for Lanee Beashel, with Mel Webb next, then Sirpa Hovi joining the event all the way from Finland.

This endurance event features an all-in start with a course that took competitors on a long distance tour around Middle Harbour and beyond. Chinaman’s Beach to Balmoral to Manly Bombora, to Balmoral to Clontarf to Chinaman’s to Balmoral for the Finish Line!

A 5-8 knot breeze saw the lighter sailors come to fore, with the leading bunch featuring the top lightweights and females.

In the women’s it was another victory for Lanee Beashel, then Jannicke Stolstrom and Simona Christofori (ITA).

The men’s leaders were Tim Gourlay, then Rob Treharne and Josh Green.

Pentathlon (Overall)
With a fantastic overall performance across all disciplines, Tim Gourlay from WA was crowned men’s Pentathalon champion, with Dennis Winstanley from Hamilton Island in second and Josh Green from the Sunshine Coast in third. All of the top three demonstrated world class sailing and board skills.

Lanee Beashel from Lake Macquarie dominated the women’s competition with a perfect score win in all disciplines.

Local girl Melanie Webb, had a great regatta to come in second and Annalise Gilbert who has been busy sailing other classes came in third.

The Junior competition was won by Will Grimshaw from Melbourne with Max Paul, son of Mark Paul of Bombora fame in second and Anthony Charlton from Lake Macquarie in third. What was great to see was the support the Juniors were getting and that four of the Juniors also had parents sailing in the same regatta.

With fluoro green, orange and multi-colour sails and Middle Harbour supplying a spectacular backdrop, many people were commenting that they ‘hadn’t seen the Harbour this bright since the 1980s’.

The Windsurfer class is undergoing a revival and club racing is now possible in small fleets dotted around Australia. “Yes, Windsurfers are still doing it standing up and It’s great to see such a strong turnout for the 40th Nationals” said David West, Windsurfer Class Association President.

“Especially those that have returned to the sport after many years, our young juniors, and those that have come from across the world. Young and old can join in the fun of a windsurfing regatta which includes round the buoys Course Racing, Slalom, Marathon, Freestyle and naturally some great comradery and partying.”

Greg Johns has been a driving force in the class since the original Australian Championship in 1977. During the regatta’s 40th Reunion Party held at Cala Luna in Middle Harbour Yacht Club, he was presented with a well-deserved “Lifetime Legend” award recognising his unwavering support and commitment to Windsurfer Class. Johns, the PRO for the regatta, said “Windsurfer Class has, and continues to be, a great training class for some of Australia’s most successful sailors.”

The competition had a bit of everything with trophies not only awarded for excellence in windsurfing but also “Windsurfer Classic” awards which promote the unique spirit of windsurfing, the colourful characters and antics during the regatta. Steve “The Pirate” Martland from Magnetic Island was awarded first place Windsurfer Classic with his commitment to the pirate lifestyle and dress throughout the regatta.

Following the 40th Nationals success, local windsurfing clubs are expecting more interest and increasing numbers of sailors on their start lines. Balmoral Sailing Club, the host club of this year’s event, is now planning to run regular weekend Windsurfer racing.

The 2018 Nationals will be set in Victoria and another strong fleet is expected.

For those wishing to get in some early training, Parkdale Yacht club in Melbourne is consistently having over 15 Windsurfer sailors in their weekly club racing on Sundays.

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