Margaret River is synonymous with world class wine, wind and waves making it a perfect setting for the Windsurfing Western Australia’s final event of the 2012-13 season. Despite a last minute forecast predicting light winds and small swell, by 1:00pm on Saturday 16th February Margaret River’s main break saw the first of four divisions hit the water in what would be a spectacular day of exceptional wave sailing and thrilling finales.
A fantastic turnout of 38 sailors competing across the four divisions made for a busy schedule and the proceedings started as soon as the wind picked up enough for the Masters to bob their way through some solid head high sets. Light winds eliminated jumping from the competition for the entire day, requiring competitors to make the most of the two best waves per heat. Ultimately wave selection, timing and a smidgen of luck proved to be essential in progressing through the heats. It was ex-world tour slalom racer, Dan Engdahl who took first place, with WWA committee member Mark Slade coming second and Ashley Marchant third.
The Grand Masters
Next up was the Grand Masters; qualifications for this division included a predisposition for afternoon naps and a hot cup of tea but the guys proved that age is no barrier when it comes to fluid bottom turns, aggressive cutbacks and sensational wave selection. Regular Margie’s sailor Hugh Bowden demonstrated just how the locals do it best to clinch the podium spot ahead of John Koch and Paul Jackson, setting the bar for the subsequent Elite division.
The Elite division
An impressive list of credentials characterized the sailors of the elite division; and with the likes of Scott McKercher, Karin Jaggi, Ivan Zecca and Patrik Diethelm one could be forgiven for thinking they’d stumbled onto a PWA tour. Aside from the iconic names, there was also a smattering of up and coming sailors eager to pit their skills against some of the best in the world, making for an unpredictable and enthralling competition. The first round of heats saw some unbelievably close calls; victorious sailors winning by only half a point to progress through to the next stages. With the wind and swell building, a captivated crowd watched sailors rip it up on mast high sets until only the two remaining finalists were left – local legend and previous PWA Wave Champion Scott McKercher and young British talent Graham Woods.
Both windsurfers put on a dazzling display of super tweaked aerials, waves 360s and some serious lip smacking to generate approving "ooohs" and "aaahs" from spectators and judges alike. Eventually it was Scotty’s uncanny ability to hunt down the biggest waves on offer with not just one, but two mast high wave rides in the final to secure his title as champion! Third place went to Scarborough’s Ben Arthur.
The day was concluded as all great windsurfing events should be; in a pub with great music, good beer and some last minute fancy dress. The combined efforts of everyone attending the prize giving saw a generous donation of over $500 for Windsurfing 4 Cancer to raise awareness of the illness amongst the water-sports industry, and $200 going towards the local Margaret River Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service who had a tough year last year with devastating bush fires in the region.
Overall, this year was a huge success with a fantastic combination of near perfect conditions, exceptional wave sailing and a lot of help from all the volunteers and judges involved. Congratulations to the winners, commiserations to those who just got pipped to the post and we hope to see everyone back there next year for another momentous weekend in Margaret River!
Text and pictures by Windsurfing WA
1st Scott McKercher
2nd Graham Woods
3rd Ben Arthur
1st Dan Engdahl
2nd Mark Slade
3rd Ashley Marchant
1st Hugh Bowden
2nd John Koch
3rd Paul Jackson