Event: Brasilian Formula Windsurfing Nationals
Divisions: Men | Women | Youth
Level: National (Open) (Level no. 3)
Event factor: 0.5
On this page you can see live events on my Twitter feed on the right (@SeanAUS120 – follow me!) as well as read the daily reports below and check out some of my photos from the event.
I’ve wanted to come to Brasil for the past 3 years; something about the warm weather, strong winds and choppy/wave conditions really excites me to sail formula however it’s not particular easy for Australians to get entry visas as I’ve discovered over the past 3 years. I was originally denied a visa in 2007 to make it for the World Championships in Fortaleza and last year I simply ran out of time to organise one as it involves relinquishing my passport for about 6 weeks which is not so easy to do while I am in Europe as running around Europe without documents driving a car registered in someone else’s name (I’m not a European resident, so can’t register my own car!) is actually not as easy as it sounds to explain to a German policeman; haha! Anyhow, this year I was lucky enough to get one in time (arrived 2 days before I flew out!) and the lovely girls from Arrow Marketing were at the airport to collect me and here I now sit in Fortaleza…
I arrived on Sunday night with the racing starting here at the Brasilian Nationals on Friday; so plenty of time to get used to sailing formula again after barely touching the kit for a whole season and checking out a bit of the Brasilian food and culture. All the BRA-BOYS, Wilhelm, Paulo, Fabio, Mathias and Gabriel had arrived around the same time as me so our daily routine for the week consisted of hitting the marina at around 11am, sailing for a few hours then back to town for dinner and the rest of the evening in the hotel working like a dog on the computer … hehe. The wind here is fantastic – each day around 15-18 knots and the forecast for the weekend looks stronger!
The first day of racing kicked off on time at 11am. Basically with the consistent winds here Bruno can write the start times for each race down on the board (11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm) and we hit all the races on time; no waiting around the wind here in Fortaleza! The launch site is a bit tricky as there’s only one ramp in to the water from where we are rigging which is a very old and cracked concrete ramp. The top section has separation between the sections of concrete, wide enough to fall through and then the bottom section as you enter the water is covered in slippery moss and razor-sharp barnacles; so basically you carry your gear to about 2/3’s of the way down the ramp and ‘hoick’ it over the side in to the water then try to uphaul before the tide sucks you either back under the ramp or in to the rocks on the shore – super fun with 20 guys launching at once!!!
All four races today were fairly similar. The winds were around 15-18 knots (just take whatever the startboat calls it and add 5!) and most of us were on 11m with Gabriel on 11.8m. The course is a little follow-the-leader style as there is some massive gains on the right side as you come out of the shore so 90% of the fleet is starting on port and heading to the right. There was a bit of a battle going on with Wilhelm, Gabriel and Paulo at the front with Paulo playing catch up during the day after having a big crash right in front of me in the first race – splintering another guy’s board who was on starboard (Paulo on port) and Paulo completely destroying one of his Kashy fins …
I spent the day trying out some different tuning combinations and mucking around a bit with Kurosh so only decided to sail in 3 out of the 4 races. Having a few issues with the deck grip of my board which has somehow all rubbed off after sitting in my van for 5 months with a bunch of sails on top of it … suffice to say I fell off at least twice in every single race I did today whenever I tacked or gyybed… time to find some surfboard wax!
Today started which much lighter winds so we didn’t get the first race away until around 12.30pm. That suited me fine as I hardly got any sleep last night! There is a massive Christian rock concert going on about 50m from my hotel; think 30,000 people wandering the streets with all sorts of stalls and markets setup and then heavy rock and techno playing until about 4.30am as well as a few fireworks shows at different times… brutal.
I am travelling light to Brasil this year, so I only took one sail with me that I borrowed from Andrea Cucchi (hence why I have ITA-1 on my sail in the photos). I figured it will most likely be windy here so 11m should be fine; I can hold that till a hurricane and my dad has built for me a pretty cool double-chicken strap plate that attaches by the fin bolts so I’m ready for anything the southern hemisphere oceans can throw at me….
…well, that is as long as it’s over 20 knots. Today was 6-11 knots; not so good on 11m against everyone else on 12/12.5’s. With only a small fleet it’s fairly easy to get cracking starts if you know what you’re doing and in the first race today I decided to go on starboard and take the pin – got a great lead to the first tack and as we are rounding the mark on starboard (opposite to normal) it’s actually only one tack if you start on starboard. Wilhelm, Paulo and Gabriel all had started port and got a slightly favoured shift closer to the mark to get around before however about 50m from the mark I hit a light spot and stopped… for a good 2 mins. I managed to get around the mark in 8th I think and then the rest of the race went something like… plane, plane, plane, STOP….drift for 1 min… pump, pump, pump, plane, plane, plane, STOP….drift for 1 min… and REPEAT.
Everyone was in the same boat… Kurosh went home as he never got planing again after the first mark. I think I finished 7th but actually was about 20m from getting LAPPED by the leaders… hahaha. Suffice to say; I’m not going so fast in light winds with such a small sail.
I decided to sit out the next 2 races and the wind got even lighter… I only wanted to sail this event to test some gear, so punishing myself with 4 races a day (the races are over 30 mins long sometimes!) isn’t the best preparation for me for the GP on Tuesday when I haven’t sailed a formula board in a few months.
Race 4 today, the wind picked up a little and I decided to go out again; trying a few different masts. I had another cracking start on port and by the end of the run to the marina Wilhelm had just nudged me but I was looking good however I got a bit unstuck in a shift to the mark and dropped back to 4th around the top marking – judge nudging inside Paulo who was in 5th. Everyone on the 12m’s was murdering me downwind for speed so I had to sail tactically better so after having 4 guys pass me on the first downwind gybe I put in 2 extra gybes to get back to 6th by the bottom mark. Only to then have those 2 guys pass me once again on the next upwind as I’m going horrifically slow on port in the sideways swells – can’t seem to work them out. This race was very close and on the 3rd upwind after I clawed back to 7th on the second downwind I once again had to eat everyones dust on port… there was only a short downwind run to the finish after the 3rd upwind, so no chance to catch up and I had to settle for 7th in this race.
Straight after racing we took Fabio’s bulletproof car to an Italian restaurant in town (been a while since I’ve eaten Italian, about 6 days now I think!) and ate like kings before Fabio attempted to drop me back at my hotel. It turns out this Christian concert is going on again tonight and all the roads toward the beach are now closed… so basically I had to walk it.. which would have been fine if it wasn’t already night and we weren’t in Brasil. I had my Canon 7D camera and lenses and my computer, but the boys tried to convince me to leave it in the car – I would probably get robbed in the 100m from the car to the hotel. I decided to leave the camera and gamble with the computer strapped to my back (things I do to get these reports to you!). I put the back strap on my crocs (in case I needed to run) and headed in to the crowd of 50,000 people littering the streets in front of the concert. Luckily there were about 400 policeman with guns, batons, body-armour – you name it – around and I managed to get to the hotel in one piece with only about 4 people trying to rip the bag off my back, but they were kids so they weren’t strong enough to get it off! CRAZY!!!!!!
So without my camera you will have to wait till tomorrow for all the photos I shot of the racing… stay tuned.
Today was the final day of racing at the FW Brasilian Nationals. I decided to rest today so I’m ready for the GP starting on Tuesday. Hopefully you all caught the live-ticker on FormulaWindsurfing.org as I took it over today and called the racing as I saw it. Three races were completed and Gabriel Browne stamped his authority on the event winning all 3 and winning the overall title. The wind was a little stronger today with gusts over 20 knots but the leaders all hung on to their 11.8’s even with the waves picking up! Pretty exciting to watch the racing from the beach as Gabriel and Wilhelm really battled in the last race with Gabriel only winning by about 20m…
So after a quick prizegiving at the poolside of the Marina Park Hotel, all the BRA-boys, Kurosh and myself headed out to this fancy all-you-can-eat restaurant downtown and ate like kings. This place was actually pretty cool; you had a little circular card on the table with one side red, one side green. If you flipped it green, they would keep bringing different meats out to you and cut it straight from the bone to your plate, if you flipped it red they would stop. Also the Brasilian style with beer is to fill everyone’s glass only half full out of one beer bottle, then the waiter keeps topping it up to half with each new bottle, so that the beer never gets warm. Perfect… I should teach some Europeans the idea of cold beer.
Later tonight all the boys and the organisation team are heading to ‘the Orbit’, some big nightclub in town for the after party … over and out.