- FW Class Event Page
- Official Event Website
- Final Results (Gold Fleet – After 6)
- Equipment List
- Amazing Photo Gallery from Latvia
Today we had the registration day for the World Championships, here in Liepaja (pronounced Lie-pah-yah), Latvia. This was the location for the 2011 FW European Championships, so most of the riders have been here before and know the layout. I decided to make the trip up by car, coming from Lago di Garda, Italy which is around 23 hours drive! The last sections of Lithuania as you arrive in to Latvia are very open countryside and farms (quite beautiful scenery) so the drive was fine and a distance I’m used to driving coming from Australia!
120 men and women have registered for the contest – quite a big fleet so we will be split in to two fleets tomorrow and have another opportunity to use the new scoring system that I helped develop (with some help from some guys in Australia) 2 years ago. The new system is, that we will run 4 split fleet races (allowing 1 drop) and your tally from those 4 races will be consolidated in to “1” result from the pre-series with your final result becoming your score: ie, if you are in 2nd, you get a score of 2 points for Race 1. You then enter the Gold/Silver fleet racing with only 1 result on the board. This puts more emphasis on the Gold Fleet races deciding the results of the event, rather than having sailors dominate in the pre-series and then drop their Gold Fleet scores with their coming discards… It also negates the opportunity to get ahead in the pre-series as beating 2nd place by 10 points in your fleet means you enter the Gold Fleet with 1 point and 2nd place enters with 2 points, so he is only just behind you! It will make the racing more critical and exciting!
The FW Neilpryde Baltic Cup concluded on the weekend with 86 sailors competing and a lot of international sailors using the races to tune-up before the World Championships begins tomorrow. The event site looks in great shape, and the forecast is for offshore winds tomorrow, sideshore winds the next day, radical strong winds on Thursday, more light winds on Fri/Sat… so we should get a great mix of conditions to test out the sailors!
Stay tuned here for daily reports from the event and be sure to checkout the photos below and if you want to appear in the Twitter feed to your right, just tweet using the hashtag #FWworlds.
Well, that was an interesting first day of competition here in Liepaja. I started the morning pretty early, rolling with Jesper Vesterstrom from our hotel for a nice pancake & oatmeal breakfast at this Mexican restaurant we found (go figure!) before rigging both our sails (Jesper = 12/11m, Sean = 11.5/10.5m) and heading to the beach for the skippers meeting.
Racing started on time at 11am with 2 fleets of 54 men and once again one fairly stacked fleet compared to the other according to some of the sailors. The wind was DEAD OFFSHORE and looked like about 2 knots with smooth water however we were assured it was windier as we hit the water. Most of the yellow fleet (starting first after the ladies) took 11-12m sails, I took my 10.5m as I like being able to throw a smaller rig around when it’s shifty and you need to tack all the time.
The course was fairly well set however the conditions were a lottery. Big holes on the course and not a lot of wind in the starting area so it was difficult to get off the line cleanly. Most of us, who have been training in much windier locations for the past month, struggled to tune our gear for these conditions. It was not important to go fast, only to go HIGH and get in to the new wind each gust. The german sailors like Vincent Langer Sebastian Kordell were very well setup for this and outpointing most of the fleet including the eventual first race winners like Wojtek Brzozowski, Michal Polanowski and Arnon Dagan in the yellow fleet.
Jesper and I, who had tuned up the day before in onshore 14-20 knot conditions; had a real problem setting our gear up for this shifty, very light and flaky winds. We’re on smaller boards, whereas the leaders were on 167wide’s or Vapor 2’s etc and we found it difficult to get angle off the line against a ton of Baltic sailors who are all very well tuned up on their 12m sails and big, wide boards. That being said, the qualification rounds are basically irrelevant – I will discard my horrific score from all 4 races as long as I stay in the Gold Fleet (questionable at this point!).
Lot’s of big names had some horrific results – Casper Bouman, Dennis Littel, Jesper Vesterstrom, Wilhelm Schurmann etc etc – all with some shoddy results on the board. The key standouts were in the Blue Fleet, with Steve Allen rocking a new Severne 12.5m prototype that looked VERY fast, and he dominated some races by over 200m against Ross Williams (on a 12m Gaastra prototype). After 3 races, Ross is leading ahead of Steve and Polanowski.
With 1 more race to go in the qualification series tomorrow, it will be very interesting to see the results, as the wind is onshore tomorrow so there will be lot’s of swell and much windier races, so I suspect a lot of the places up the front and mid-pack of the fleet will change. I am looking forward to some wind as I very RARELY get to sail in lightwind offshore conditions, and I must say it is horrific to race in, and really demotivating!
After racing finished we were treated to a fantastic opening ceremony at the 3-level ‘Rock Cafe’ in the centre of town. During the ceremony, 9 pioneers of Latvian windsurfing were brought to the stage. These men, during the difficult Soviet Times of Latvia’s history, had discovered windsurfing by seeing pictures in some journals smuggled in to the country in the early 70’s, and set upon themselves to build windsurfers based on the pictures they saw. Over the years, they were able to become the top windsurfers in the Soviet Union (a country of some +140 million people at the time) and a lot of them continue to windsurf to this day! Quite inspiring stuff. The guys also didn’t mind a shot of vodka or two. #WORD.
Our final split fleet race kicks off tomorrow. Tune in to see whether Vesterstrom, Littel and myself can actually stay within the Gold Fleet – bahahahahaha.
Today was a SUPER long day for the small amount of action that actually took place. The forecast was for better winds than yesterday and more side-onshore, which meant we would get the waves back – yay! The fleets had been redone which meant I was once again in the Yellow fleet but racing a new group of people. Yellow was up first and the wind was around 14 knots. I decided to once again go small as the waves were fairly big and I can be really fast in these conditions with a smaller sail. Unless you are 100kg, you bounce around too much and can’t get settled with a 12m sail, so often it’s better to go smaller for the upwinds… for the downwinds however, it’s pretty much a waste of time using a smaller sail unless you know how to surf waves or can be bothered to pump the whole way down; I went with the latter.
I had a nice start on starboard in front of Arnon and Micah with fairly light winds around 12 knots on the first upwind. I tacked with Micah and sat behind him rounding the mark in 5th with Dennis Littel leading the race with a port start. Downwind I was slow-as-a-dog but I held on to about 7th rounding the bottom and actually managed to pass Micah on the next upwind despite he was on 12m as I was pretty quick on the upwinds just riding the waves and looking for tiny gains in the troughs of the swells and being patient; whereas it seemed everyone else would try to point really high to get over a wave and slow down too much then have to foot-off for 30m to stay planing (not how you ride big waves in light winds!). I was a bit slow to tack on the outside coming to the mark and let Micah and Wojtek pass me by 10m going in to the final downwind … we had a new course today where we would round (what I thought) was a buoy towards the finish but it turned out to be a BOAT parked about 50m from a media boat so I of course gybed for the wrong one and in half a knot of breeze (probably was 8-10 knots) I had to double gybe on the tiniest sail ever and let about 6 guys past me. That’s ok because all I needed to do today was stay in the Gold Fleet which I easily managed with a 12th here in this race. Also nice to know I actually have some speed against the Top 10 guys so when we get some strong winds tomorrow it’s going to be my day!
The Blue Fleet headed out straight after our race and got underway in similar conditions to begin with. A lot of the fleet took 11m’s (Ross Williams included) as it appeared to be picking up however there was some horrific drama with either a floating mark or an EXTRA mark at the top that was confusing the sailors and shortly after the race was completed and sailors were back on the beach, around 15 people protested the race committee on the validity of the race and the juror sent the Blue Fleet out once again to re-run the race. Of course, as happens at these times, the wind started to fade and the poor Blue Fleet were kept out on the water another 40 minutes as they tried and tried again to start the race. FINALLY, it was re-run and Ross Williams took the bullet ahead of Steve Allen with my ‘silver-fleet-pending’ buddy Jesper Vesterstrom, able to nail a 10th on the re-sail and jump about 10 places overall to a safe Gold Fleet position.
The same couldn’t be said for another buddy of mine, Wilhelm Schurmann, who was OCS in the Yellow Fleet race and sitting in 49th position (behind me, even!) going in to today’s final qualification race so there was definitely a nervous few hours wait for Wilhelm as he waited for the end of protests and the Gold Fleet to be posted…. he ended up making it. JUST.
Ready for action to start with the Gold Fleet, us sailors were left on the beach for the next 4 hours as the wind teased, and finally rain came in, then again it became sunny and the wind returned, then another thunderstorm… until finally 6pm arrived and we were sent to the water only to be sent home 5 minutes later as a HUGE storm arrived in the distance and washed most of the beach away. Horrific!
So, Day 2 is completed and we are ready to start the Gold Fleet racing tomorrow! The forecast is for 25 knots and 2-3m onshore waves so I’m really excited to have some gnarly conditions!! I hope they will actually race us as by the looks of the boats, it might be a bit hard for them to set a course tomorrow, but we will see!
Well, today was pretty HARDCORE. Only really hardcore for ME, not so much for anyone else… It all started with the forecast of 25-30 knots and a HUGE onshore swell breaking around 3m outside on the course, and the following tweet I made around 9.30am this morning:
“Just did a run on 10.5 and 70 VMG. Waves breaking over my head at start!! Only guy out. We’re on hold till everyone else man’s up! #pussies #FWworlds” SeanAUS120
When you make a big call that, I guess you need to back it up. I really (like REALLY) enjoying doing formula in the most RADICAL conditions, not really scared of too much despite the fact that I’m an atrocious swimmer and too stubborn to ever use an uphaul rope. So, after my DISASTROUS qualification series where I barely scraped in to the Gold Fleet, I decided I could drop that score and with 4 solid races in conditions I am VERY fast in, maybe put myself back in the game this event. So by 9.30am, 30 mins before the start of racing, with 20-22 knots on the course and brutal, messy swells, I rigged up my 10.5m and headed out! With the onshore wind and 50m you have to walk in ankle deep water to get to fin depth it was quite horrific trying to make it off the beach. I never really got out of the impact zone and had some waves close to mast high (felt like) come close to destroying me but I made it back to the beach in one piece and told everyone – YEAH, IT’S GREAT FOR RACING, LET’S DO IT! Despite the fact I could barely sheet in at all.
Seeing no interest from the race committee to start, determined, I went back to the car and rigged my 9.3m AC-1 Handcrafted Prototype and walked it down the beach and went straight back out on the water. This time the wind had picked up to 25-28 knots and the swells were a little steeper and closer together! I made it outside the impact zone then got hit by a breaking wave that hit the 2nd top batten of my sail (5m up!) and ripped the rig clean out of my hands!! hahaha OH F***. Managed to somehow waterstart and gybe and on the way back to the beach I got in a stupid windy gust and thought to go for speed before the boom clamp rope broke and my boom slipped down 25cm on the mast in an instant just as I was airborne over the back of a huge wave. FACEPLANT. My god it was a gnarly crash. Felt like EVERYTHING BROKE. My boom was completely detached from the sail and I spent the next 30 minutes getting washed like a ragdoll in the impact zone trying desperately to tie the knot back on my boom clamp. In the process of trying to get the knot tied, my backend which was flapping about without the pressure of the frontend started to tear the inside of my poor sail. Once I finally got up, the sail began to tear which made it impossible to get back to the beach… This went on and on for another hour until I finally arrived on the shore. To sum it up, in the last few seconds of the above video… “and then everything broke and here I am”.
Whilst this was all going on, the racing was cancelled and all the rest of the sailors, who never left the beach, derigged their 10m sails and headed home. Gone was the last opportunity to do any high wind racing at this event! daaaaaaaaammnnn.
Arnon still leads after 4 races… Let’s see what tomorrow brings.
Again it looked so promising this morning! I arrived at the beach with Jesper Vesterstrom around 8.30am with the trees bending and plenty of messy waves on the beach; looked to be around 18-20 knots when we first arrived and so promptly we rigged up our 11/10.5m sails. Racing started on time at 10am with 4 races for the Gold Fleet planned. Unfortunately, the radical conditions were not to continue and within 15 minutes of the start, the wind began to drop and I actually had so much difficulty getting off the beach in the shorebreak that was full of seaweed that I missed the first start by a full minute! FML.
That wind dropping was pretty much the story of the day… with the wind around 10-12 knots for most of the racing but quite gusty with a few lulls here and there below that and a few gusts up to 14 knots, despite the HUGE waves around the course, you needed to be on 12m (or 12.5m) and be on a very powered board. There’s a few of us here who really thought we might get some stronger winds this event judging by the forecast and really registered the wrong gear or weren’t really tuned up for such light conditions. Wilhelm, Mathias, myself, Jesper, all fresh from racing in Australia earlier in the year on the new gear were all so off the pace today – wasting our time really! haha.
Outside of my horrific results, up the front of the fleet was a different story! Ross Williams, the fantastic, on the back of a win at the FW European Championships last May, saw the tricky, wavvy conditions as a blessing and absolutely BLITZED the fleet today (including event leader Arnon and 2nd placed Steve Allen), taking 4 bullets from 4 starts today, starting on port each time and somehow managing to navigate through the mess that was the starboard tack starters – well done Ross!!!!
Pont (Przemyslaw Miarczynski), with still some energy left after a Bronze Medal in the London Olympics, had a solid day posting a 4,2,3 and 4 using his trusty old NP RS:6’s from about 2 billion years ago that have somehow not even fallen apart. Pont is actually using a Starboard 161 which nobody else seems to be able to get to work in these light conditions except maybe Gabriel Browne, the Brazilian who’s currently in 6th. Arnon Dagan, the fantastic, had a difficult day breaking a boom and missing a race. I’m a bit sad to hear that as I really want Arnon to WIN cause he is a legend (and also has threatened to drown me for this “horrific” new scoring system I had a roll in developing – haha!).
Also on the broken gear front, Casper Bouman, the former RS:X World Champion and Olympian, fresh from a mentor role (and partying after) with Dorian van Rijsselberghe who won the GOLD medal at the London Olympics, as well as a coaching role on the Belgium Olympic Team, arrived as the only rider on the F2 Formula Board, only to have it crack in pieces on the deck, oozing out water like the Costa Concordia cruise-ship. Under the rules, you are allowed to change boards if your board becomes damaged beyond repair, and why not take the fastest board here? “Don’t mind if I do”, Casper probably thought as he shoved on to the Gaastra Vapor 2 for the final 2 races today and suddenly jumped from DEEP IN THE 20’s, to taking 2x second places in these races – SHOVING IT. haha.
Another notable mention (I mention it because I mentioned him earlier in the week already, as that guy who would always be in front of me just DESTROYING me for angle – arggghhh) today is young Sebastian Kornum. Sebastian had the luxury of entertaining the entire Brazilian team in his hometown of Skive in northern Denmark, for the past few weeks leading up to the Worlds, able to train on the water each day with some of the fastest guys on the planet. Not that he was slow before they came, but this kid has totally lifted his game this event and took a 6th and a 9th in two of the races today to sit in 9th overall and hot on the heels of the other JP-Australia teamrider, Micah Buzianis in 7th. I spoke to Sebastian’s dad this afternoon and told him what a superstar his son is = very happy dad, and so he should be :-)
One more day to go. Ross has a 7 point lead over Steve however Arnon will drop his boom-breakage tomorrow after 2 races and be back inside the Top 5, and not to forget he is on the same gear as Ross! The German, Vincent Langer has been super consistent sitting in 4th on his trusty Starboard HWR and could Casper Bouman absolutely destroy the fleet tomorrow with his board upgrade?! So many questions…Tune in tomorrow to find out.
For the rest of the psuedo Danish/Brazilian/Australian group I mentioned earlier who are kinda over this lightwind stuff – you may catch us at Coyote Bar tonight in central Liepaja. Reach for the lasers.
The final day of racing at the 2012 Formula Windsurfing World Championships. The positions at the front of the fleet were already set, Ross basically could not lose with his 4 bullets; Steve was clear in 2nd and Pont had a decent gap over 4th. The real battle today would be in the placings outside of the podium in the Top 10. The changes started even before the races started…
Wojtek Brzozowski was the first to move up the list; in quite a dramatic way. Wojtek had a crash the day before which I didn’t see, but apparently he wasn’t able to race for the rest of the week, and was granted a controversial redress giving him 6th in each race for the remainder of the event. I didn’t see the details of the protest, but there were a lot of suprised faces in the fleet including Gabriel Browne, Micah Buzianis and Vincent Langer, who stood to lose their placings with this decision and there was a lot of discussion in the morning about what the definition of ‘hurt’ is, when you do not go to a hospital or check with a doctor. The jury can only take it on your word. Anyhow, I didn’t speak to Wojtek or the Jury myself, and rules are rules, so if they jury made a decision you don’t like you have to just SUCK IT UP and move on. NEXT!
In came the rain, down went the wind and a whole afternoon was spent sitting on the beach slowly packing the equipment back in to the vans trying desperately to remove all the sand in the process. Just when everybody was completely packed up, about 6 knots of breeze arrived at 4pm and Bruno dropped the flag for a start. WHAT THE ACTUAL F***.
The wind was suuuuuuuuuuper light; the kind of conditions that make you wish you were Casper Bouman. Many guys in the fleet saw it as a drop, but in the Top 10 there was a lot of shuffling going on and running to the beach to get organised as it looked like the conditions were picking up. They weren’t. The race started and Steve Allen (on his 12.5m proto) was able to dominate the race ahead of Casper Bouman and Ross Williams. Micah wasn’t able to plane around the course and lost 5 places overall dropping to 12th. Gabriel Browne wasn’t even able to make it to the startline in time and dropped to 7th overall. Young Sebastian Kornum had a killer race, in the kind of conditions he is famous for and nailed a 5th, bringing him to 7th overall in his first ever World Championships in the open fleet – well done!
The wind died as half the fleet was unable to finish the race planing. The event was over.
ROSS WILLIAMS IS THE NEW FORMULA WINDSURFING WORLD CHAMPION!!!
For those wondering why Ross was so fast and dominating at this event, some discussions with Steve, Casper and Arnon after the event came to these conclusions. Ross picked the RIGHT fin for lightwinds with large waves. With only 2 fins to register now in the rules, with a 30 knot day forecasted during the week it was difficult to know what to register. Ross went for the 74cm Kashy, Steve the 71cm Z-Fin as their #1 fins. Ross had the better angle on starboard tack in the big waves where he took 4 bullets as he was able to take a harder layline and make the marks with ease, using the power from his fin and board to get the angle going over the waves. On that day, Steve was on his 10.7m, not the 12.5m and didn’t have the angle to tack earlier and sail more aggressively against Ross. The event was also won in the starts… Most of the Top 5 were starting on port tack each time on the big race day. Steve was playing it safer and starting further down the line on port where there were bigger gaps. Ross was trying harder and starting closer to the pin end where it was riskier. This paid off, and Ross was able to get through each time being 40m upwind of Steve already as they headed out on port, making it easier for him to control the race having Steve underneath and also knowing he could point higher and hold Steve off if he tacked earlier on to starboard. Fortune favours the brave.
Well done to Ross, he sailed amazingly and deserved his first World Title in FW. Another big well done to Liepaja and the Latvian windsurfing community; an amazing event that was well organised and all the racing that could have been done, was done. A championship to remember.