Balmoral Beach, one of Australian windsurfing’s spiritual homes, was the venue for the 40th Anniversary Windsurfer National championships held 26-29 January. The event, sponsored by Mobium and Namotu Island Fiji was a huge success and saw over 80 competitors come out of the woodwork to dust off their windsurfing skills, some from as far as Italy, Finland, Norway, USA and all states of Australia.
A full range of conditions, light, medium and heavy air provided a great test for bodies and board handling. Ages ranged from 14 to 70 with the fleet divided into weight divisions for men, juniors and a strong ladies division that included former Olympic representatives.
Tim Gourlay from WA was crowned overall men’s champion, with Dennis Winstanley from Hamilton Island in second and ex pat Canadian Josh Green from the Sunshine coast in 3rd. All of the top 3 demonstrating world class sailing and board skills.
Lanee Beashel, ex US Olympic sailboard representative, now from Lake Macquarie, dominated the women’s competition with a perfect score win across all disciplines. Local girl Melanie Webb, who hadn’t sailed since the 90s had a great regatta to come in second and Annalise Gilbert who has been busy sailing other classes came in third overall.
The Junior competition was won by Will Grimshaw from Melbourne with Max Paul, son of Mark Paul of Bombora fame, in second and Anthony Charlton from Lake Macquarie in third. What was great to see was the support the Juniors were getting and that four of the Juniors also had parents sailing in the same regatta.
For overall results including Course Racing, Slalom Freestyle Marathon and Pentathlon for men and women click here.
Windsurfer Class is undergoing a revival and club racing is now possible in small fleets dotted around Australia. “Yes Windsurfers are still doing it standing up and It’s great to see such a strong turnout for the 40th Nationals” said David West, Windsurfer Class Association President. “Especially those that have returned to the sport after many years, our young juniors, and those that have come from across the world. Young and old can join in the fun of a windsurfing regatta which includes round the buoys course racing, Slalom, Marathon, Freestyle and naturally some great comraderie and partying.”
Greg Johns has been a driving force in the class since the original Australian Championship in 1977. During the regatta’s 40th Reunion Party held at Cala Luna in Middle Harbour Yacht Club, he was presented with a well-deserved “Lifetime Legend” award recognising his unwaivering support and commitment to Windsurfer Class. Johns said “Windsurfer Class has, and continues to be a great training class for some of Australia’s most successful sailors.”
The competition had a bit of everything with trophies not only awarded for excellence in windsurfing but also “Windsurfer Classic” awards which promote the unique spirit of windsurfing, the colourful characters and antics during the regatta. Steve “The Pirate” Martland from Magnetic Island was awarded 1st place Windsurfer Classic with his commitment to the pirate lifestyle and dress throughout the regatta.
Following the 40th Nationals success, local windsurfing clubs are expecting more interest and more sailors on their start lines. Balmoral Sailing Club, the host club of this year’s event, is now planning to run regular weekend Windsurfer racing.
The 2018 Nationals will be set in Victoria and another strong fleet is expected. For those wishing to get in some early training, the Windsurfer friendly Parkdale Yacht club in Melbourne is consistently having around 15 windsurfers in their weekly club racing on Sundays and welcomes new sailors.