Where to start? After what seemed like a long off season of cold and generally average wind the 1st event of the season is always an interesting mix of emotions i.e. “I wish I had trained harder or at least dusted of last year’s equipment before the 1st race”.
With the new format of the tour giving a slightly different dynamic i.e. separate dedicated Formula and Slalom events, it was always going to temp the wind gods to test the new format by giving us extreme conditions i.e high wind Formula straight off the bat. Anyway after a week of nuking conditions, day 1 was a drifter where not a single sail or board made it out of their protective covers.
We did however take advantage of the glassy waters to do a bit of SUP and managed to hang out with dolphins, turtles, stingrays and some large craps! Not really sure so much marine life directly off the beach is a good thing or not, but it was impressive!
Day 2 was a different story, with torrential rain and 25knots on-shore winds coming directly from Sydney and a forecast of thing to get wetter and windier as the day went on. The easy and acceptable decision was to cancel the racing and retire to the golf club to watch the rugby world cup and NRL grand final, but luckily the race committee showed some serious back bone, and choose to run the course racing during the lulls. The Fleet hit the water with their smallest FW sail (generally 9.5m-10m) for a simple windward/leeward course that finished 20meters off the beach.
Race 1. Brett Morris (AUS-8) had a good lead at the top mark only to play it safe on the downwind by trying to only jibe once, where Sam Parker (AUS-3) choose the aggressive route in much stronger winds to take the lead at the bottom mark. On the last up-wind Sam did the opposite taking the calmer inside track, only to be just beaten to the top mark by Brett, for the last time where positions stayed to the finish. In the Free Formula (the old FE+) Barry Fawkes (AUS-2111) continued from last year by managing to beat Mick Saunders (AUS-149).
Race2. In 25+ knots you tend to forget that the wind can shift, but half way up the 1st beat and massif hail storm hit reducing visibility to a few meters and disguising a 20 degree right hand shift. Sam Parker sailed a great race to win, but the real race was for 2nd – 4th where Remi Dunoyer (AUS-773), Justin Lord (AUS-38) and young gun Nick Auston (AUS-151) battled the whole race. Barry and Mick were the only finishers in the Free Formula fleet, as this race was “crazy” challenging!
Race3. 2 x 20mins races may not sound like much, but in these conditions it rally saps your energy and bodies were beginning to hurt. This didn’t stop Byron McIlveen (AUS-747) from becoming the 3rd winner in 3 races ahead of Brett and Sam. In the Free Formula James Farley (AUS-173) and David Howe (AUS-688) made their present felt with a 1st and 3rd.
Race 4. Half way up the 1st beat the wind dropped to zero and was cancelled much to the disappointment of Murray Towndrow (AUS-720) who was well on his way to being the 4th winner in 4 races.
The Race Officer of the Day decided to call racing off as the conditions were becoming unstable and he wisely though we had pushed our luck enough on such an extreme day. Little did we know at the time but this turned out to be the best decision of the day with 30+ knots kicking as we were de-rigging.
A huge thanks to our RO- Glen Rumsford who’s enthusiasm got us on the water, and his decision making produce not only a fantastic days racing but also a safe environment in truly testing conditions.
A reminder that heat2 is close 15-16Oct2011 at one of the best windsurfing locations in NSW. Huskisson, Jervis Bay. Please remember to join a club and pay in advance on www.tour.windsurfingnsw.com.