23rd of January 2008, Australia, 2008 Oceanic & Australian FW Championships

Strong winds and big seas continue at Suttons Beach

The first races at the 2008 Formula Windsurfing Oceanic and Australian Championships kicked off today in strong and consistent 20-25 knot winds, transforming Suttons Beach into a perfect formula arena. After yesterday's ballistic winds continued long into the night and early morning the sea state at Suttons Beach was looking more like a surf beach with large swells and a decent shore-break giving the competitors a challenging start to the first races of the event. With the wind keeping in all throughout the day in perfect high-wind conditions the maximum of four races was run by race director Tom Stephenson, from Redcliffe. Two-time Formula Windsurfing World Champion Steve Allen (AUS-0, Gaastra/Gaastra) who grew up not so far from this area fully dominated the day by taking three wins from four races. After day one he is leading the regatta with the optimum 2.25 points.

The Danish Jesper Vesterstrom (DEN-111, Starboard/NeilPryde) kept tight on Steve's heels all throughout the races but couldn't manage to pass his rival and took home four second places throughout the day's racing, finishing the day on 6.00 points after the first drop.

Another Danish rider, now based in Australia, Jesper Orth (AUS-10, Starboard/Severne) surprised the fleet by port starting a boat-favoured line and picking up a great lift on the opposite side of the course to the fleet, taking a commanding lead to the first mark. He was able to keep this lead despite the hard work of Steve and Jesper to catch up and took the first race bullet. Consistency was the key for Jesper and he followed up his win with two third's and a fourth to bring him to 6.75 points after today and right on the heels of his other Danish competition, Jesper Vesterstrom.

Defending champion and local sailor Sean O'Brien (AUS-120, Starboard/Gaastra) couldn't find the right gears to pass either Jesper's in the racing and had to settle the day with 12.00 points with three fourth's and a fifth which he is able to drop after today's racing.

New Zealand RS:X sailor Antonio Cozzolino (NZL-131, Starboard/Neilpryde) surprised many in the fleet finishing all the races only a whisker behind the top sailors with 20.00 points after day 1. Showing why he is the current RS:X World Champion's training partner of choice back home in New Zealand.

With the maximum four races sailed today the forecast for the next two days of racing looking excellent, the spectators at Suttons Beach can again expect a great Formula Windsurfing display. The Formula Windsurfing Oceanic and Australian Championships will last until Friday 25th January.

Check out the results [PDF].