Racing starts today at the 2009 Nordic Windsurfing Championships in Skive, Denmark. Sean will be competing to defend his 2nd Place last year behind the Danish champion Jesper Vesterstrøm (DEN-111) amongst other great Nordic sailors. Enjoy some daily reports from Sean below.
Day 0 (Training):
We (myself and Guernsey sailor James Briggs) arrived in Denmark early on Thursday morning. The previous evening we’d help a friend in Holland move furniture in a new house, unpacked and repacked two vans full of gear, caught up with another friend in Holland for coffee around midnight then drove full power to Denmark after also picking up my sail from the sailmaker which was an extra 1.5 hours drive out of the way … so by the time we’d arrived in Denmark we were pretty wrecked!
On Thursday afternoon, after checking in at our accomodation for the weekend (staying at Christian Bo Justesen [DEN-26] and his family’s place – who happen to also be the event organisers) we headed down to the club to catch up with the other sailors and do the Thursday night twilight race with the local Danish sailors. This particular race was 4 laps of a fairly short course with very gusty strong winds around 20-24 knots at times. Jesper Vesterstrom (DEN-111) won this race by a good margin with myself in a clear second.
Back at home we relaxed with a cool Danish beer (possibly the only ‘cold’ beer I’ve ever had in Europe; thanks Denmark!) and had an early night ready for racing the next day.
Day 1 (Racing):
We started racing around 12pm with the plan to do 4 races and possibly more if the conditions allowed. Yesterday we’d sailed in easterly winds which was unnatural for this venue but today we were back racing in the typical W-SW offshore breezes; which on a ‘lake’ venue are typically offshore, shifty and gusty (I can confirm this!).
There were plenty of the big names here; all the top Danish sailors as well as psuedo Aussie Jesper Orth (AUS-10), Brett Morris (AUS-8) and myself rep’ing Australia, a host of Norwegian, Swedish and even Finlandian sailors and James all the way from Guernsey (GoogleMap it if you don’t believe that it is a country!).
Race 1 started as all lightwind shifty races do, with 50% of the fleet unable to plane off the line. I took a great start at the pin end with Jesper and Kasper Larson (DEN-11) heading out to the left. Jesper tacked very early and I decided to go 300m further than the layline to make sure I could cover if the wind went light. It did, and this maneourve paid off as I was able to bear away in the lightspots with my height above the layline and rounded the mark a good 100m clear of second. With the shifty winds the rest of the fleet seemed to fall further behind and I thought this race was in the bag for me until I saw the abandonement flag shortly after rounding the top mark on the second lap – damn!
The re-run of Race 1 was a complete disaster for me as I went left again with Kasper and couldn’t stay on the plane. Kasper finished this race in first somehow but the rest of the fleet went right to stay in the wind…everyone else who went left was back with me … in about 30th!
With the offshore wind we were a good 2km downwind of the beach so with no opportunity to go home for a drink we started another race. This time I started on port to head right as the wind had locked more in to the West and the right side was working well. I had a lousy start and sat underneath most of the port starters but again went 200m over the layline to allow for the shifts. Again this worked well and I was back to 3rd at the top mark behind the young Danish Sebastian (DEN-24) and one of the Norwegian sailors who was going very fast upwind. I went further on the downwind layline (strangely enough, overshooting laylines pays off on days like these!) and was able to pass these guys to have a clear 100m margin at the bottom mark. I held on to this lead most of the second leg despite heading right on one of the biggest LOOSERS I have ever sailed. I was basically heading the same angle as the downwind leg, but the rest of the fleet was following me so I decided to stick with it to the corner. After tacking the wind went really whack! I fell off the plane another 2 times in the run to the mark and everybody started tacking in different places … Somehow in the traffic I dropped back to 5th and was unable to pass anyone on the downwind. Sebastian won this race ahead of the Norwegian …
Race 3 started after a 10 minute break (definitely not enough time for a drink!) on the beach with the course moved another 1km downwind. With the wind lightening most of the fleet were unable to make the start ontime! I arrived on the line with 45 secs to go and tacked on to port to get a terrible start sitting right underneath Jesper and Brian Roegild. Jesper and Brian were able to climb away from me with their clear air and I got a little pinned having no ability to tack away as we were heading to the favoured side. I was 7th by the top mark and finished the race in 7th. The wind was less shifty this race so there wasn’t as much opportunity for passing. Brian was leading until the final downwind when he let Jesper pass him ….
That was it for the day … tonight we have a dinner at the club then more racing tomorrow.
Day 2 (The Bullet):
The forecast was much better today with 8-12 knots predicted as well as a possible 30 knot front with rain and lightning arriving at some point after lunch. The course was moved a long way up to the north of the fjord, probably about 4km downwind of the beach which meant there was no possibility of changing equipment between the races. That being said we all rigged our 12’s, big fins and full lightwind setups and headed down to the startline around 12pm for the first start. After two attempts at starting the first race which were abandoned with the wind becoming very light and shifty, we took a 10 minute break to relay the line before the wind picked up to 18 knots for the start of Race 1 for the day.
To be honest, I would’ve loved to have not had my mast-track at the back, boom at the top of the pocket, no-outhaul on and no chicken-strap, as with a 76cm cutdown fin with a 12m rigged for lightwind it made for some pretty interesting racing!
Jesper took the first bullet for the day, with Sebastian (DEN-24) taking the next race. In Race 3 for the day I took it upon myself to finally get my sh*t together and take a bullet! I had a lousy start on starboard pinned between Nikkolai (DEN-4) and Sebastian and even hit the shore with my fin going to close to the beach to tack, however that extra 50m I sailed kept me in the strong winds a little longer to recover to 4th around the top mark behind the top Danish guys. I was still in 4th on the bottom mark following Kasper Larson (DEN-11) back towards the shore as the other 2 guys went out to middle. Kasper tacked early but I sailed once again until my fin grinded the shore then got an amazing lift because of my extra distance out to the left of the course. I rounded the top mark about 100m clear in 1st with only the downwind to go …
…the wind went SUPER light on the downwind but the guys behind me got a massive gust taking them 30 degrees lower than me. I was far enough ahead to possibly gybe before they got to my line to hopefully beat them by the distance it takes someone to gybe! I pumped the entire way downwind till my hands nearly started bleeding but I held on to take the bullet!!
In the final race of the day I got another good start and picked a good layline to the top mark with Sebastian ini front of me and we were likely to round the mark clearly ahead however the wind went light 100m from the mark and I came off the plane but flyweight Sebastian managed to stay on and hold 4th around the mark as Jesper and the rest of the guys who went to the right side of the course came around in the top spots. I was 7th at the top mark and basically stayed in that place for the entirety of the race, although I did manage to pass old Brian Roegild on the downwind to pickup a spot ;-)
Day 3 (The Nothing):
The forecast today was for ZERO wind and in a rare (but awesome) move the race committee decided to pull the plug at 11am, run the prizegiving at 12pm while everyone was still here and let everyone get the earlier ferries home in the afternoon back to their Nordic homes … A great BBQ was put on by the Skive Sejling Klub after the prizegiving ceremony also.
I finished 7th overall in a tough fleet which was very close on points in the Top 10. 5 different race winners in 7 races shows how close and competitive the racing was (or how fluky and shifty the conditions were!).
- Jesper Vesterstrøm (DEN-111)
- Kasper Juul Larsen (DEN-11)
- Sebastian Kornum (DEN-24)
- Nikolaj Kruppa (DEN-4)
- Brian Røegild (DEN-173)
- Robert Åberg (SWE-13)
- Sean O’Brien (AUS-120)
- Magne Frønsdal (NOR-4)
- Per Boström (SWE-92)
- Kurosh Kiani (DEN-13)