A solid forecast with building winds on Day 2 greeted the competitors ready to kick off the next 5 races at the 2014 Downunder Pro – Formula Windsurfing Oceanic & Australian Championships. With sailors on the water by 12.30 for the first start with gusty winds around 8-12 knots.
Sean O’Brien (Starboard/Severne) began the day strongly taking the first bullet in Race 5 today ahead of Byron McIlveen (Patrik/Point-7) and Luke Baillie (Starboard/Severne). Jesper Vesterstrøm (Gaastra/Gaastra), who hadn’t been in as quick in the lighter winds had a slow start to the day posting a 4th before finding his gears as the breeze increased over the day.
Determined to challenge for the title, Vesterstrøm clawed his way back to the lead by winning the next 4 races in a row ahead of O’Brien, as the winds built across the afternoon reaching 27 knots in the final race, with most of the competitors on their smallest rigs.
Baillie, who was part of the 4-way tie in 4th yesterday, had a solid day and cemented his 3rd place overall today posting a 3rd, 3rd, 5th and 4th ahead of Sam Parker (JP/Neilpryde) and McIllveen, who make up the Top 4.
With the Downunder Pro being the first formula windsurfing event of the year and the new 2-year cycle for boards, the opportunity to see the new equipment performing in a variety of wind conditions over the past 2 days was prominent. O’Brien, using his new Starboard 167 and Severne Reflex-5 11.5m for the majority of races, appeared to dominate in the light/medium wind races over the 2 days, holding out his rival Vesterstrøm who was on his Gaastra Vapor 12m and Gaastra Vapor board before the wind turned ballistic later in the afternoon today which appeared to give Vesterstrøm a speed advantage which he was able to take advantage of. Baillie, O’Brien’s teammate, was also on the new Starboard 167, only registering one sail for the event; Severne Reflex-5 10.7m and has been consistent in both the light and strong wind races ahead of Parker on the 2014 JP Formula with Neilpryde EVO V sails and McIlveen on the Patrik Diethelm board and Point-7 AC-1 sails.
Coming in to the final day of racing tomorrow, Vesterstrøm leads O’Brien by only 1 point and the title is up for grabs with a proposed 3 races to finish the event and a similar forecast of building NE’erly winds over the day. Can O’Brien claw back the 1 point difference to win the event title and clinch his 7th Australian formula windsurfing title? And can Baillie hang on to his 3rd position overall and make his first podium finish on the formula windsurfing Australian circuit. Tune in tomorrow for all the action.