Sean O'Brien: nuking sail for nuking winds

The 2012 Downunder Pro Formula Windsurfing Championships has kicked off in nuking wind and rain conditions. The forecasted 30-knot onshore winds and almost zero visibility on the course were the ingredients on offer to all racers.


The 58 competitors rigged an assortment of smaller sails as the wind continued to hammer down the course all afternoon and three races were knocked out over the afternoon.

Paulo Dos Reis, current World number one sailor from Brazil, dominated the first day of action with three wins from three starts, despite not actually passing the top mark in first position during any of the three races.

The Brazilian incredible speed downwind, muscling his 11.0m sail in the early races, before switching down to 10.0m allowed him to pass Jesper Vesterstrøm, from Denmark, who nailed two 2nd’s behind Dos Reis before a shaky double-gybe on the last mark in Race 3 put him back to fifth.

Brazilians Wilhelm Schurmann and Mathias Pinheiro had a consistent day despite the gusty and shifty winds and are currently sitting in third and fourth overall.

Defending Australian champion Sean O’Brien had a mixed day finishing sixth in Race 1 before taking two 4th’s behind the Brazilians to be in fifth overall after Day 1, and just 2 points ahead of his next Australian rivals Brett Morris and Byron McIllveen.

Conditions on the course were difficult for the sailors with the rain squalls making it very hard to see the marks on the course and the south-east direction of the wind causing large ocean swells to pump in through the headlands and on to the course; making for very bumpy and choppy conditions with the strong winds.

With the forecast for the next few days looking like nuclear strong winds over 30 knots again, the spectators at Jimmy' Beach, Hawk Nest can again expect a great Formula Windsurfing display if they can brave the rain. The 2012 Downunder Pro Formula Windsurfing Championships will run until Saturday 5th February.