Grey Skies = Great Speeds

Day 4 of 2017 GI Nats dawned cloudy and grey. Windy. And warm. Early morning peaks at Arlington in mid 30kts foretold of the windiest day of the series, albeit under an overcast sky. Gone were our turquoise waters but here were the real winds. Adding to the anticipation, the leads in both major divisions remain balanced on a knife edge. One stumbled jibe would change the final results in both Slalom and Freerace categories. Loaded bases. Time to roll the dice.

Organisers had the course set early and Slalom racing was underway with 20-25 kts of wind testing skills and gear selection to the maximum. Not quite to epic levels of our windiest year but definitely a solid taste of what GI racing has to offer. Quickly riders wearing GPS trackers in the slalom were recording mid race slalom speeds in heats in excess of 35-36kts. The action was fast. But fun. Great participation from riders at all levels, determined to improve their experience and rankings made for a really great days racing. Out in front, the standard of racing was tight and determined. Many lead changes yielded an even more unpredictable outcome to the overall championship. With Table 5 completed, the first discard result came into play, allowing Max Gaubert to discard his worst result, slipping ahead of Ben Newson again in the end of day rankings (6 tables complete). Super consistent in third remains New Caledonian Alex Rouys. Never on Day 4 did Byron McIlveen look out of contention with some super fast runs, whilst Kaleb Smith and teammate Kelly Morgan consolidate their 5th and 6th slots. AWA President Brett Morris leads the Masters rankings from NZ’s Tim Woods, Townsville’s Michael Corkeron sailing well into 3rd position overnight. In the Womens division, both Derryn Arthur and NewCal’s Mo Chauvin made great efforts in the rising winds. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of competing in such great conditions.

With 12 slalom races complete, the switch was on for GPS Freerace. With wind now filled and and consistent in the 22-28kt range, the top Reef Flats course was shortened on the outside leg for both safety and increased rider challenge. Racing was underway and immediately the main contenders were at maximum attack against the clock. Byron started super hard, while Kaleb, Alex and Kelly sought out speed and distance potentials in the top and outer limits of the course. Every competitor made the most of truly great Freerace conditions and the on water action was frantic. Mid session the wind kicked up another notch and in these conditions Kaleb seemed to step ahead in the “visual” on water speeds.

On a falling tide and rising wind now peaking into low 30kts, the conditions became even faster albeit more taxing on every rider, and the session closed with a sensational but safe wipeout by Alex, winning crash of the series with a spectacular 20m airborn catapult. Back at base the downloads confirmed the visuals, with Kaleb taking the session by a 700m gap over Byron, Alex and Kelly. Dave Morehead moves into 5th and NZ7 Tim Wood leads the Masters from Michael Corkeron and Tasmania’s Geoff Cook. With a 5th Freerace round proposed Day 5, overall score discards come into play and competition gets even tighter.

And its a windy forecast… Game on. It’s gonna go right to the wire.

Josh over revving mid slalom. Great effort but fell short of Alex’s..

Thanks to Paul McGill/Severne for today’s photos

FULL RESULTS ARE HERE 2017 GI Nats Results Page

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