- 22 August 2008 | Windsurfing
Portimão Formula Windsurfing World Championships 2008 will concentrate the elite of worldwide windsurfing in Portugal, from the 8th to the 14th September. This ISAF [International Sailing Federation] event joins the best athletes from the 5 continents, to award the best of them the titles of World Champion both in the Men and Women leagues.
At present, the list of participants in these Championships shows the top sailors in the world. Names such as Steve Allen from Australia [World Formula Champion 2006], Ross Williams from UK [Europe Formula Champion], Wojtek Brzozowski from Poland [with several World Champion titles], Willhelm Schurmann from Brazil [Pan-American Champion and #2 of the world rankings], Gonzalo Costa Hoevel from Argentina [the winner of the last Grand Prix that took place in Portugal]... to mention just a few of the brightest stars of this sport's universe. In the women's league, the current World Champion - Australian Allison Shreeve - is already coming to Portimão, where besides defending her title, she will show the advantages of the new olympic project.
Also many of the most important Olympic sailors, in Qingdao, China, have already asked IWA [International Windsurfing Association] how to participate in these very special World Champions, where we can observe the performance of the new board - aspiring candidate to be the next 2012 official Olympic windsufing board. The event Portimão Formula Windsurfing World Championships 2008 will be the stage where all the attentions from the highest entities that regulate the Olympic sport will be focused, once that the Formula Windsurfing – One Design is the best project to integrate the next Olympic games.
With the excellence of this event, the Organizing Committee is leaded by Manuel da Luz [President of the City Hall of Portimão] and assisted by Luís Carito [President of Expoarade, EM], João Pedro Cascais [President of the CA of the Portuguese Sailing Federation], José Guimarães [President of Overpower Club] and Ceri Williams [President of the Class]... All of them are developing an exemplary work for the success of the event in Portugal.
- 20 August 2008 | Windsurfing
Tom ASHLEY, also the reigning World Champion, sailed a near flawless Medal Race, finishing third to win a tight three-way contest for gold. It is the first Olympic gold medal in sailing won by New Zealand since Barbara KENDALL’s victory in the Women’s Windsurfer event at Barcelona 1992. Frenchman Julien BONTEMPS finished one place behind ASHLEY in today’s Medal Race to take silver, whilst Israel’s Shahar ZUBARI edged out Nick DEMPSEY (GBR) to win bronze, winning the first medal for Israel at this Olympic Games.
Since finishing 10th in Athens as a 20 year old, ASHLEY has matured into a world beater on the windsurfing scene, a status he confirmed earlier this year with World Championship success on his home waters in New Zealand. In a fleet in which many competitors have a big performance differential in different wind conditions, his all-round ability has proved crucial this week and brought him the Olympic gold medal.
"I've done it! It's the most incredible feeling and I can't begin to tell you how I feel right now," ASHLEY commented on returning to the boat park. ASHLEY, who is coached by Grant BECK (NZL), an instrumental figure the three previous medal wins of KENDALL, added that his Olympic success is the end of a long road, "I’ve been working toward this for so many years. It was an insanely tough Medal Race," he said. "The weather had a little bit of everything. I tried to sail as consistently as I could."
Yesterday ASHLEY had had his worst race of the regatta after getting caught on the wrong side of a big wind shift and finishing down in the 32nd place. That had dropped him from first to third overall, although he was still just one point off the lead and knew that if he could finish ahead of BONTEMPS and DEMPSEY today and not let ZUBARI get too far ahead, the gold medal would be his.
- 16 August 2008 | Windsurfing
The Terminator returns on judgment day: Bjorn Dunkerbeck sails to victory in race eleven, crowning him the event winner on the final day of competition in Alaçati. In the women’s fleet, Valerie Ghibaudo wrapped up the event with a second in race eleven, having already done enough to take the event title.
With tensions mounting on the final day of competition, the ensuing last race of the event would prove to be make or break for Bjorn Dunkerbeck (T1, North) and Antoine Albeau (Starboard, NeilPryde), who sat just 0.4 of a point apart at the top of the score sheet. For Albeau to rob Dunkerbeck of the event lead, he’d have to place in the top six, and beat Dunkerbeck in the final race. Likewise, for Dunkerbeck to take the event title, he’d have to place higher than Albeau.
In a warm up for the race final, Albeau and Dunkerbeck were pitched against each other in the semi finals. The resulting brawl saw Albeau gain a psychological boost when he crossed the line in second, two places above Dunkerbeck, however it was Finian Maynard (RRD, NeilPryde) that commanded the heat.
Coming down to the wire, the event title now hinged on the critical race final, with the winner quite literally taking all. As the green flag went up, Dunkerbeck seized the early advantage with a perfectly timed start. Off the pace, Albeau ran into problems when he caught a bag around his fin. The resulting drag left him towards the back of the pack, and stuck in dirty wind.
In contrast, Dunkerbeck, who seemed to be thriving under the pressure, screamed ahead of his nearest rival, Peter Volwater (F2, North) in second. By the fourth mark, Dunkerbeck was half a reach ahead, meaning the final straight was a mere formality en route to claiming the event title.
Crossing the finish line, the multiple world champion was greeted with wave upon wave of cheers and applause, as ecstatic fans congratulated the newly crowned event winner.