The first day of competition of the 2012 Downunder Pro Formula Windsurfing Championships got off to a brutal start with the rain and winds playing havoc for the competitors. Arriving to a flooded rigging area and wet gear storage, the forecasted 30 knot onshore winds held true and the first race kicked off at 2pm with almost zero visibility on the course with the rain squalls and winds gusting from 10 knots up to 30 knots and beyond. The 58 competitors rigged an assortment of smaller sails as the wind continued to hammer down the course all afternoon and 3 races were knocked out over the afternoon.
Current World #1 sailor from Brasil, Paulo Dos Reis (Patrik/North) dominated the day with 3 wins from 3 starts despite not actually passing the top mark in 1st position during any of the three races. The Brasilians incredible speed downwind, muscling his 11.0m sail in the early races, before switching down to 10.0m allowed him to pass Jesper Vesterstrøm (Starboard/North) from Denmark who nailed two 2nd’s behind Dos Reis before a shaky double-gybe on the last mark in Race 3 put him back to 5th.
Brasilians Wilhelm Schurmann (Starboard/Neilpryde) and Mathias Pinheiro (Starboard/North) had a consistent day despite the gusty and shifty winds and are currently sitting in 3rd and 4th overall.
The defending Australian champion Sean O’Brien (Starboard/Point-7) had a mixed day finishing 6th in Race 1 before taking two 4th’s behind the Brasilians to be in 5th overall after Day 1, and just 2 points ahead of his next Australian rivals Brett Morris (Starboard/North) and Byron McIllveen (Patrik/Point-7).
Conditions on the course were difficult for the sailors with the rain squalls making it very hard to see the marks on the course and the south-east direction of the wind causing large ocean swells to pump in through the headlands and on to the course; making for very bumpy and choppy conditions with the strong winds.
With the forecast for the next few days looking like nuclear strong winds over 30 knots again, the spectators at Jimmy’ Beach, Hawk Nest can again expect a great Formula Windsurfing display if they can brave the rain. The 2012 Downunder Pro Formula Windsurfing Championships will run until Saturday 5th February.