Downunder Pro: start your engines

The warm up races for the Downunder Pro, Formula Windsurfing Oceanic & Australian Championships are pumping Hawks Nest, before the official horn is heard on Wednesday. Four races were run in nuking wind conditions.

Fourty seven top windsurfers are ready to storm the Australian waters. The talents include Downunder Pro defending champion Wilhelm Schurmann, from Brazil, multiple time Australian title winner Jesper Vesterstrøm, from Denmark and defending Australian Champion Sean O’Brien, from Australia.

The fleet is composed by sailors from as far as France, Japan, Great Britain, Guernsey, Greece and New Zealand on top of all the local Aussie contingent. The air temperature is high and the winds will certainly be ready to challenge windsurfers.

Sunday looked more promising to stick with the forecast. With winds increasing from 9 knots to 17 knots, many sailors were caught out on big 12m sails. Wilhelm Schurmann took an early lead at the top mark followed by Jesper Vesterstrøm and Sean O’Brien in third with the order staying the same throughout the second lap in to the finish.

After a quick break to allow sailors to change down sizes the wind increased against the forecast to 24-28 knots and many sailors including Sean O’Brien were caught out on their big sails and struggled around the course with many sailors crashing out on the downwind legs. Vesterstrøm was able to cement his speed on the course in Race 2 taking the bullet ahead of Schurmann with Steph Walsh taking third ahead of Mathias Pinheiro from Brazil.

Race 3 and 4 were repeats again with the wind relentless at 25-28 knots and the chop becoming quite difficult for the sailors. The back to back racing didn’t allow any time to change rigs between races and Sean O’Brien missed Race 3 using the time to fix some problems with his boom before making it out again for Race 4.

At the front of the fleet, Schurmann and Vesterstrøm battled and won another race a piece with Vesterstrøm taking the final Race 4 win allowing him to beat his Brazilian rival on a countback. Current NSW Windsurfing Series leader Sam Parker cemented his podium finish for the event with two 3rd’s in Race 3 and 4 to beat Mathias Pinheiro by 1 point overall on to the podium. Tim Ford managed to take out the Formula Experience Plus division, beating Barry Fawkes and Mick Saunders overall.

The 2011 Downunder Pro Oceanics & Australian Championships is ready to go. Who will take the prestigious title?