The first event of the Formula Windsurfing World Tour has begun today in Sines, Portugal. With the Northern wind blowing cross-shore, between the 10 and 12 knots, the beach of São Torpes, Sines, became the perfect arena for this competition.

The 2008 Portugal-Sines Windsurfing Grand Prix, which is taking place from the 6th to 10th of May, has brought to this Town the most important sailors from around the globe (9 of the top ten ranked formula racers in the world ) - not only for the prize money, that has reached € 30,000, but for the excellent organisation to which the competitors of these great international events have been used to from the Overpower Club.

Following the skippers meeting run by Race Director, Claudio Alessandrello, every sailor, who felt relaxed while waiting for the wind to show up, was informed of the schedule to develop during the first day of racing. Around 2:00 p.m., Alessandrello, sent all of the Formula Windsurfing sailors to the water, and thanks to the big and sophisticated sails of up to 12 m2, managed to complete the first race of the day, with winds between the 7 and 10 knots.

At first, some sailors had a bad start, being stuck in area with light wind, while others decided to head towards the shore. Those who decided to come inshore included: Steve Allen AUS 0 – the current vice World Formula Champion - Fabio Melo, from Brazil and Miguel Martinho from Portugal. They couldn’t reach Jesper Vesterstrom from Denmark, Wojtek Brzozowski from Poland, Gonzalo Costa Hoevel from Argentina and Wilhelm Schurmann from Brazil, as these competitors headed out to sea where they got stronger winds that led them to the upwind buoy and kept them all the time at the front of the fleet.

The first sailor to go around the windward buoy was Jesper, followed by Gonzalo and Michael Polonowski from Poland. At the downwind buoy, Jesper rounded earlier, but made a double jibe, allowing Gonzalo to take the lead and control the race from then on. At the second upwind, Steve Allen suddenly recovered, but without managing to get the leadership, having turned the windward buoy in third place- Polonowski in fourth, Schurmann in fifth, Miguel Martinho in sixth and Fernando Martinez closing the top 10.

At the end of this very competitive race, under spectacular conditions, the victory and the first blood in the 2008 World Tour, went to Gonzalo Costa Hoevel - the Argentinean sponsored by F2 and Neil Pryde. Gonzalo, currently leading the world ranking, is training now a lot in Portugal side by side with Miguel Martinho. – clearly the combination is paying dividends!

 Fabio Melo from Brazil surprised everyone last year in the Portugal Grand Prix-, the star of the competition. But this Brazilian did not have his best race today- he needs more races in order to correct some mistakes observed today.

Every position in the fleet will be hotly contested Alberto Menegatti ITA 456 [F2, Gaastra] from Italy, Mika Polanowski POL 16, [Starboard, Gaastra], Hubert Mokrzycki POL 25, [Starboard, Gaastra] both from Poland, every one of them being competitors in positions to fight tomorrow for the highest podium places.

The wind failed to show for the next race –and after a long wait Claudio Alessandrello, the Race Director, considered the competition finished for this first day.

There followed in the evening an informal ceremony that gathered together the most important sponsors and supporters of the event; with a special highlight the presence of the Mayor of Sines, and the proposal of a long relationship between the sport and the Town of Sines.

The target has been set for the sports governing bodies, the representatives of the race sponsors, the competitors and the regatta officials – the possibility that the town of Sines may host this event for the next four years.

Source: IWA