Downunder Pro 2013 - Day 2 Report

The second day of competition of the 2013 Qantas Downunder Pro Formula Windsurfing Championships got off to a fantastic start with the wind conditions sticking to the forecast and building across the afternoon allowing the first race of the event to get away at the scheduled 12.30pm start. The 47 competitors rigged an assortment of big rigs as the wind hovered around 10-13 knots for the first race building to a solid 20-25 knots by the late afternoon which allowed for the maximum 5 races to be sailed.

3-time World Champion from Brisbane and Starboard team rider Steve Allen got off to a great start dominating the first day of sailing taking 4 bullets and a 2nd using his new Severne Reflex 4 12.5m² sail in the first 3 races even as the wind picked up to 20 knots before switching down to a 10.7m² for the final two races. Allen’s numerous port starts including one where he was able to cross the entire fleet meant he led from start to finish in nearly all races and never looked challenged until the final race where Danish hotshot Jesper Vesterstrøm had a cracking port start and managed to beat Allen in the last few meters to the finish to take the final race win. Vesterstrøm sits in 2nd overall with 4x 2nd’s in the earlier races.

The battle for the final podium spot was hotly contested by Wilhelm Schurmann from Brasil and Sean O’Brien of Australia. Schurmann knows this spot well having raced here for 3 years but O’Brien dug deep today and managed to beat his Brasilian rival in 3 out of 5 races before discovering he was disqualified for an early start in Race 3 which allowed Schurmann a one-point lead overall to sit in 3rd. Schurmann finished the day with 3x 3rd’s and 2x 4th’s with O’Brien 2x 3rd’s, a 4th and a disqualification.

Young Danish star Christian Justesen had a consistent day and at only 19 years of age is one to watch in the future posting a 5, 5, 5, 6, 7 giving him an equal 5th position overall with Steve Walsh (JP/MauiSails) from Australia, ahead of Remi Dunoyer (Exocet/MauiSails) of France and Brett Morris (Gaastra/Neilpryde) of Australia.

There’s a mix of forecasts for tomorrow’s racing with one saying another day like today with perfect conditions and another saying a light southerly change to come through and prevent the wind. Either way, there will be plenty more action to come at this year’s Qantas Downunder Pro with still 2 more days of racing to follow.

Downunder Pro 2013 - Day 2 Standings:
Steve Allen (Severne/Starboard)
2. Jesper Vesterstrøm (Gaastra/Gaastra)
3. Wilhelm Schurmann (Neilpryde/Starboard)
4. Sean O'Brien (Severne/Starboard)
5. Christian Justesen (Neilpryde/JP)

Day 1

The first day of racing at the Downunder Pro – Formula Windsurfing Oceanic & Australian Championships had sailors caught in a long day on the beach with no valid race, as a low pressure system which had flooded the event site in recent days, disappeared taking the wind with it.

For the first time in nearly 8 years of Formula National Titles held in Australia, no racing was held on the first day of the event with the wind failing to materialize in a consistent direction despite the Race Committee making every attempt to get a race underway. The sailors were kept on stand-by for over 5 hours with the N over AP (end of racing for the day) flag finally hoisted at 5pm allowing the sailors a chance to head home and relax.

3-time Formula World Champion, and event favorite, Steve Allen from Brisbane, had arrived through the flood-waters of northern NSW to the event site on Monday evening, missing the warm-up event but having an opportunity to get on the water late yesterday on his new Severne Reflex 4 12.5m rig.

Event Warm Up

As an important tune-up event for the 2013 Downunder Pro Oceanic & Australian Championships this week, competitors from all over Australia and the world arrived at Hawk's Nest for the two-day competition which served as Heat 5 of the NSW Windsurf Tour. The talent included Jesper Vesterstrøm from Denmark, who had previously won this event and placed 7th at the 2011 Formula Windsurfing World Championships, multiple-time Downunder Pro champion Wilhelm Schurmann from Brazil, 6-time defending Australian Champion Sean O’Brien from Australia as well as a bunch of sailors from all around the world.

Greeted with a forecast of 15-25 knots the sailors were eager to get out on the water on the first day of racing with 5 races being run over the day as the winds increased over 25 knots by late in the afternoon. Schurmann led from the start taking the first race win before battling with Vesterstrøm to finish with 2 wins and 3 seconds, with Vesterstrøm taking 3 wins, 1 second and a 6th to win the overall event by a point! Sean O’Brien battled most of the day with young Justesen, finishing in 3rd overall with 4 thirds after the drop and Justesen 3 fourths and a 3rd to finish in 4th overall behind O’Brien.
On the Saturday evening, sailors were treated to an ‘Aussie style’ beach BBQ with all competitors across all the windsurfing classes at this championship (over 100 competitors) attending the beach festivities.

Sunday looked more promising to have even stronger winds with the forecast showing strong wind warnings over 30 knots for the Hunter Coast area following the destructive path of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald which is currently traveling down the east-coast of Australia north of Brisbane and leaving devastating floods, tornadoes and gale-force winds in its path. Sadly, all the sailors were able to receive from the cyclone was torrential rain and racing was called off for the day with no starts on Sunday as the forecasts 25-35 knots did not produce and once again the Hawks Nest car-park was flooded after 100mm of rain overnight and during the day.

Downunder Pro 2013 - Warm Up Event Standings:
Jesper Vesterstrøm (Gaastra/Gaastra)
2. Wilhelm Schurmann (Neilpryde/Starboard)
3. Sean O'Brien (Severne/Starboard)
4. Christian Justesen
5. Steven Walsh

Another fantastic event at beautiful Hawks Nest and a great chance for everyone to tune up before the 2013 Downunder Pro Oceanics & Australian Championships start this Wednesday. Stay tuned for more!

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