TeamPryde and the RS:Racing do it again, taking out the podium at the 23rd Calema Midwinters. Calema has long been the first major formula event of the year with top international riders taking the opportunity to show off their new gear and size each other up for the season ahead.
The RS:Racing introduced in February 2007, was clearly the sail to beat last year and now looks set to continue its domination of world Formula Racing again in 2008 with no changes to the design at all.
Gonzalo Costa Hoevel was injured at the event last year and was therefore unable to complete the competition but this year Gonzalo was flying and was thrilled to be back on top of the podium.
53 sailors attended in the Formula A fleet in this years Calema Midwinters / North American Championships this past weekend. It was again a strong fleet featuring World Champion, Antoine Albeau, Gonzalo Costa Hoevel, Wilhelm Schuman, Jimmy Diaz, Gabriel Browne and a lot of top Brazilian racers.
With light winds throughout the event 4 races were completed over 4 days with winds from 6-15 knots in most races except on one day when one race was held in marginal conditions.
After Day 1 Gonzalo was in front showing great form in the light winds. Having arrived early to get in some practice Gonzalo's gear got lost en route so he was lucky to be able to take part at all. He received a new RS:Racing 10.7 and F2 Board in Miami so tuned these up while anxiously awaiting the arrival of his equipment just in time for the first race.
The wind was 6 to 10 knots coming onshore. There was a small chop.
After a couple of general recalls Gonzalo decided to start close to the race committee as it seemed that the wind was stronger on the right side of the course even when the pin was favored. He had a clean start with Miguel close to the committee and both started climbing as expected compared to the guys on the pin.
Gonzalo rounded on first followed up by Gabriel which lead the pin end group and Miguel on third. He made a good distance on first downwind jybing through the middle of the course...after some time on the second upwind when you normally start checking what are the second guys doing he was under the impression that he'd extended the lead but in those light conditions anything could happen.
Gonzalo explains the last legs "We were racing at that point with 8-9 knots and with lows of 6 I would say...on the last upwind and reaches to the finish line I extended the lead as i was sailing by myself. There was a big group fighting Wilhelm, Miguel, Antoine and Jesper...but was Jesper in the end which risk a little bit on an early tack for the layline that took the second spot followed by Miguel. My feeling at that point was that my equipment was working really nice but as I had started and raced different to the top guys tactically made me think that I had a good tactical win"
Results for the first race were:
1st Gonzalo ARG3
2nd Jesper DEN111
3rd Miguel POR5
On Saturday there was not enough wind for racing so the sailors had a long day on the beach and some paid a visit to NASA. On Sunday the forecast was good, but it never really got as strong as predicted, but there was enough wind to complete 3 races.
Similar race tactics paid off for Gonzalo winning all three races.
"Gonzalo was pushing the starts and was just managing to round the windward mark in front of myself and Antoine in most races and from there he made no errors and with most of the leaders going the same speed it was hard to catch up...
"Speedy Gonzales" cleaned up taking 4 bullets and winning the event.." commented Denmark's Jesper Vesterstrom.
Gonzalo summed up his performance crediting his equipment as being the key to his success "My personal feeling was that my gear was working really good. My RS:Racing 11.8 is performing really well and my new F2 FX6 board seems to have really good speed. My advantage was probably the ability of early planing that I had with this new board and my powerful 11.8. I also felt that I was getting to top speed faster than the other guys. How the course was set and with those conditions the starts and first upwinds were super important. Places didn't change much after that first rounding....after a bad crash in the first race last year I'm stoked to win this year"
1. Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (ARG-3) NeilPryde/F2
2. Jesper Vesterstrøm (DEN-111) NeilPryde/Starboard
3. Antoine Albeau (FRA-192) NeilPryde/Starboard
Source: Neil Pryde