Well, here I am in Grevelingendam (which is in the south of Holland, not too far from Rotterdam) for the 2007 Dutch Championships which apparently is combined with the Belgium Championships I found out upon arrival.

For the people who don’t know Holland too well, Grevelingendam is another of the many lakes in Holland, but its a very popular windsurfing spot and quite a decent sized lake; flat water and plenty of wind, but at this time of year the water is still quite cold.

DAY 1:

Our first day of racing was spent on the beach as the wind never got above 6knots at any point of the day. This was a good opportunity to catch up with a lot of the Dutch sailors I raced against whilst living in Holland last year, and to see what all the hype about Adriaan van Rijsselberghe’s speed was… Adriaan finished 4th at the recent FW Europeans – which suprised a lot of people as he was on last year’s Starboard F160…

DAY 2:

Plenty of wind today and we were out on the course for 5 races in total. Adriaan showed why he was 4th in Santa Pola by taking 4 bullets followed closely by last year’s champion Dennis Littel who then took the win in the final race.

Not having any formula sails with me as yet I was designated to race on my 9.5m RSX sail (yes, 2 cam sails are really sh*te!). Suprisingly, the fullness of the RSX sail allowed me to point fairly high however the speed difference was embarrassing compared to the rest of the fleet and I struggled to keep in the Top 10 most races. I did manage to nail a 6th in Race 2 which I was impressed with as the wind was only around 10-12knots and I was 2m down on sail area compared to most of the fleet.

Outside of the racing, this is quite a well organised event, big tents on the beach and sound-systems pumping out tunes all day. The event is also being filmed and will most likely end up on the www.riderz.tv website at some stage.

Also I should mention that the level at this event is quite high for a National championships. The fleet includes sailors like Markus Bouman (2004 FW Youth World Champion), Roy Van Koolwijk, Dennis Littel (2006 Dutch FW Champion), Adriaan van Rijsselberghe (2007 FW Europeans, 4th – 2004 FE World Champion), Pascal Somers (2006 FW Lightweight European Champion – 2006 Slalom Youth World Champion) to mention a few names…

I’m currently sitting in 6th, just behind Markus Bouman. Pretty chuffed with myself after sailing all day on tiny sail on a lousy mast with a lousy soft RSX boom.

DAY 3:

Another windy morning in Holland. After the 10:00am skippers meeting we were out on the course on Formula gear again by 11:00am. Two back to back races in gusty and shifty winds up to 20knots at times were held. I had a good day to be honest, getting a 6th in the first race despite having terrible speed upwind. In the second race I continued with my poor speed to round the bottom mark in about 9th or 10th, but picked a great shift up the second work out to sea (as most of the fleet went towards the land to get the usual lift from the beach). They lucked out and I was able to get to the top mark in 3rd about 100m from Adriaan (winning) and only a few metres behind Roy Van Koolwijk (in second).

Dennis Littel somewhere got level with me at the top mark and was able to fly past me on the downwind with the extra metre or so of sail size. I was happy to concede the place to him though and I finished 4th.

Straight after, with the wind picking up the call went to Slalom. Not having any slalom gear with me as yet I was sitting on the beach while this happened so I can’t speak about any of the results.

The wind was forecasted to drop out this afternoon so I was suprised they went to slalom, and sure enough, no less than 45 mins later we were back out on the course on Formula gear, after only 2 heats of the slalom got underway – not enough to secure a result.

Two more Formula races in shifty 15-18kts ensued and I managed to secure my worst results for the week, barely scraping into the Top 10 in both and allowing Leendert van Gaalen to get ahead of me in the overall places…

DAY 4:

There was no wind forecasted for today so everyone was late to the beach and spent most of the morning on the laptops killing time before the presentation.

Overall, a great event and great to see that Formula racing is still as popular as ever.

Check out www.formulawindsurfing.org for the full results and www.riderz.tv for some video footage. The Top 9 results that I can remember are:

1st – Adriaan van Rijselberghe (NED-2)
2nd – Dennis Littel (NED-13)
3rd – Dirk Doppenberg (NED-51)
4th – Adri Keet (NED-34)
5th – Roy van Koolwijk (NED-91)
6th – Wolfgang Varlaekt (BEL-3)
7th – Leendert Van Gaalen (NED-338)
8th – Sean O’Brien (AUS-120)
9th – Markus Bouman (NED-6)

I’m off back up north to my home in Groningen now to get ready for the RS:X Holland Regatta in Medemblik which begins on Wednesday. Word on the street is that FW World Champion Steve Allen might be competing at this event …