Gathered in Melbourne, at the first ISAF Grade 1 regatta for the new Olympic windsurfing equipment, are 52 competitors from 13 nations.
Amongst a predictably top class fleet is HO Chi Ho (HKG), the number one in the last ever ISAF World Sailing Rankings for the previous Olympic equipment the Mistral. Three other sailors from the final top ten also line up in the shape of fellow Hong Kong sailors CHAN King Yin and CHENG Kwok Fai and Italian Riccardo GIORDANO. They are joined by previous Formula Windsurfing World Champion Steve ALLEN (AUS), whilst in the women's fleet, current Formula World Champion Allison SHREEVE (AUS) is looking to add to her recent run of success.
After a frustrating morning waiting on the shore, at close to 1600 hours, the Race Officer recorded a steady twelve knots from the north and sent out both the men's and women's fleets.
Both starts were clear with the sailors going upwind when a black cloud emerged from the west. The wind swung around 90 degrees making the upwind/downwind course a tactical speed race where finding the wind was the key to success. As the ever blackening cloud approached gusts of stinging rain and blinding spray pelted all, producing 35 knot rain squalls and lulls of zero.
ALLEN, sailing to the right side of the course, flew into a comfortable lead by a good 300 metres. He was later overtaken by Casper BOUMAN (NED) who took the bullet for the men's fleet. ALLEN followed and third place went to Howard CHUNG (TPE) followed by Jon-Paul TOBIN (NZL). In the women's fleet, CHAN Wai Kei (HKG) led from start to finish, closely chased by Masako IMAI (JPN), and third place CHAN Wai Man (HKG). The race was tight throughout, with just 25 seconds separating the top three at the finish.
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