The Big Queenstown Downwinder: only a few get to the finish line

The 2011 Big Queenstown Downwinder was a great success. Kitesurfers and windsurfers were greeted by very good weather conditions for this long distance sailing event. After several postponements, the mission scheduled from Glenorchy to Pigeon Island on Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, was completed.

Twenty five competitors have set sail. The winds were quite strong and the wavey conditions quite challenging, so some participants didn't quite make it all the way. They were helped by pre-arranged pick up points by the support craft.

"It was an awesome day enjoyed by all", says Sue Bradley, event co-ordinator. "Even those who didn't make it to the finish still had big smiles. To be lined up at the start with that many colourful sails and co-sailors in the spectacular setting of Glenorchy is quite a thrilling experience."

On the race side the kiters took out the main honours again with Thomas Rold, Queenstown, taking out first place on a 17 square meter kite (quite impressive in those strong conditions). Second place went to Troy Wyga, from Glenorchy, while third was Gavin Jackson, from Dunedin.

In fourth place overall and taking out the Junior title, Blake Porter, from Dunedin.

The first windsurfer to finish the 2011 Big Queenstown Downwinder was Paul Vilestra, also from Dunedin. Simone Jackson was best female sailor and also took out the Jude Green Memorial trophy.

The award is given to the person who most represents the spirit of events in joining together. Simone was alerted to a major injury at the event last year and has very major surgery since, but throughout the year she's kept the Downwinder as her goal and motivation to see her through the difficult times.

"We are so proud of Simone for making here today. She deserves this prize very, very much", said Sue Bradley.