Windsurfing Magazine




Korea: Ulsan International Windsurfing Championship


Spectacular scenes at the event with over 5,000 local residents attending the prize giving
photo credit Proteus Sports

The Asian Windsurfing Tour has reached its climax in style in Ulsan, South Korea. Thousands of spectators turned out to see the biggest event in world windsurfing so far this year. Over two hundred competitors from 22 countries competed in superb conditions and at the end it was America¹s Micah Buzianis who took the victory ahead of Canadian Sam Ireland and British Champion Dan Ellis. But Ellis rose to the top of the podium as he now takes the Title of Champion of the AWT ~ ending the six year reign of Australia¹s Robbie Radis. The top placed Korean at the event was Lee Jae Cheol who finished eighth overall in Korea and second on the AWT.

The Ulsan International Windsurfing Championship is the newest event on the Asian Windsurfing Tour (AWT) ~ a Tour that also takes in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Saipan. The AWT visits the windy side of paradise ~ exotic locations where palm trees bow before tropical winds and the evenings are spent celebrating life on a beach with a cold bottle of Foster¹s in hand. The events are run primarily for amateur sailors but pros are welcomed ~ attracted as they are by the prize money and substantial media coverage the Tour generates (of course they are not immune to the softer charms of the Tour too). It¹s all downwind slalom action and while it¹s fast and furious on the water, the friendship and camaraderie on shore are legendary.

Dan Ellis from the UK is happy to be confirmed Asian Windsurfing Tour Champion for the first time, breaking the 6-year stranglehold of Robbie Radis.
photo credit Proteus Sports

There has been a Korean presence on the Tour for some time though it has been limited to Koreans competing at every stop. It is now a natural
progression to introduce a Korean event to the Tour, especially as the sport is growing so rapidly in the country. It¹s easy to see why ~ the country is blessed with a beautiful and extensive coastline and consistent winds. As a wealthy country Korean¹s are also spending more time relaxing and enjoying the fruits of their labour. On the south eastern edge of the Peninsula sits Ulsan City ~ a large city even by Korean standards, the metropolitan area has over a million people residing there. This is the industrial heartland of South Korea and home to oil refineries, ship builders ~ and Hyundai, a rising star in the motor industry. It is also home to the Ulsan Windsurfing Association and they have been inspired to organize an event on the AWT.

Thirty minutes drive from Ulsan City itself, in Ulju County, sits the quiet
town of JinHa. The town has a relaxed feel to it and it moves to an older
rhythm than Ulsan. Traditional seafood restaurants look out over twin
horseshoe bays that are separated by a distinctive rocky outcrop (which is
brightly floodlit at night). Low rise hotels sit solidly behind the
restaurants but it all seems sleepy outside of the high summer months of
July and August when Ulsan residents flock to the beaches. And the month of May holds a pleasant surprise for windsurfers ~ strong and regular cross shore winds. JinHa beach is ranked by many as the top windsurfing spot in the country and the Ulsan Windsurfing Association (UWA) decided to share their secret with the world. Said President of the UWA Mr. Baik Won-Jin ³Ulsan was a host city in the Soccer World Cup but we have so much more to offer. Ulsan is a Port City so the sea is part of our life here. JinHa Beach is a world class windsurfing beach and wanted to invite the windsurfing world here to enjoy it with us².

And the world seems to want to share it too. Over 200 competitors arrived in Ulsan from 22 countries to compete in the Championships. This easily makes it the largest event on the AWT ~ but also makes it the biggest windsurfing event in the world so far this year. And of course it is not all about numbers, the quality was there too. The top name in the fleet was Micah Buzianis from the USA, the current Formula Windsurfing World Champion, but he was joined by other global stars including Sam Ireland from Canada, Jesper Orth from Austria, Akinori Goshi from Japan, Jimmy Diaz from the Virgin Islands and Dan Ellis from the UK.

Beautiful JinHa Beach and the amazing event site that drew huge crowds
photo credit Proteus Sports

All the top names in Asian sailing had gathered here too: Bo Ruamsap and Kookiat Sakulfaeng from Thailand, TC Chua and Tan Wearn Haw from Singapore, German Paz from the Philippines, Keiichi Kobayashi from Guam ~ and on his home waters, Lee Chae-Jeol from Korea. Also making a return was the defending AWT Champion Robbie Radis from Australia.

The fleet was divided into six divisions (Pro, Men¹s (20-40 years old),
Silver Master¹s (40-50), Gold Masters (>50), Juniors (<20) and Ladies. The
racing format sees the different divisions all racing together in ³Rounds²
of racing. Each ³Round² consists of initial heats, semi finals and finals.
After the finals the points for that round are awarded with a second place
in earning two points and 100th place earning 100 points. Obviously the
fewer the points the better. At stake would be US$14,000 in prize money, and over US$10,000 in Neil Pryde equipment. There was also a Foster¹s Kite Boarding Competition with Cabrinha Kite Prizes.

Kookiat from Thailand takes a big fall as he approaches the second mark.
photo credit Proteus Sports

The first day of racing saw winds come from the North ~ more on-shore than usual ~ and they were a light 12-15 knots. But the fleet sprang into action on a downwind slalom course set by Klaus Michel and the UWA. One of the beauties of this race format is that the weekend warriors found themselves on the start line up against Micah Buzianis and the other World Tour stars. Only in the later heats in the Round would competitors gravitate to windsurfers of a similar level. This is an exciting opportunity for your average sailor ~ to measure yourself against the best ~ and of course it made for some exciting start lines.

Cruising through to the first final were all the top names, the only real
absentee being Radis who had broken a mast extension in his semi. Off the start line it was Buzianis who got the flyer and he made it to the first
mark with Ireland and Orth following. At the second mark Ireland and Orth,
absorbed in their own battle, swung wide and let Diaz through on the inside. But Buzianis was screaming on a reach to the third mark and clearly had a good enough lead to relax. And so it proved, with Buzianis finishing ahead of Diaz, Ireland, Orth and Goshi. Ellis, so dominant on the Tour so far, was left back in sixth.

One of the joys of the AWT is the chance to travel to ³foreign² countries ~
to experience a different culture, taste the food, and of course to meet the
people. The Ulsan International Windsurfing Championship offered this and more. The people of Ulsan, starting of course with the UWA, were so warm and welcoming. There was a genuine wish for all the visitors to enjoy the best of Korean hospitality. Nothing seemed too much ~ from the first airport transfer to the most amazing schedule of evening entertainment. Each night, after some more extraordinary food, the fleet would gather at the huge stage put up on the beach in the heart of JinHa. There would then be a procession of entertainment that must be unique and almost defies description. There were the top bands and singers in Korea, rock violinists, a pan pipes band from Paraguay, Salsa stars from Argentina, Swiss yoddlers, Japanese folk musicians, rap artists, dance troupes, boy bandsŠ the list is endless.

Micah Buzianis carves into a gybe on his way to a secure victory
photo credit Proteus Sports

On the final day of competition the winds really kicked in and were from the
(prevailing and stronger) side shore. By 10am it was blowing 15 knots and
the forecast was for it to continue to pick up through the day. Two full
rounds were completed as winds peaked over 22 knots and while battles raged at all levels in the fleet, there was one man serene at the top ~ Micah Buzianis ~ and he seemed untouchable, winning both finals in some style. By the end of the day Ireland also looked comfortable in second while Ellis had picked himself up to claim the final podium place just ahead of Diaz. Lee
Jae-Cheol put in a huge result to finish eighth overall, ahead of many of the pros and the top Korean.

Meanwhile in the AWT Championship table the result for Lee put him in second behind Ellis while compatriot Yoon Sung Soo took third.

And so the fleet gathered for one final party ~ this time joined by over
5,000 Ulsan residents. With live broadcasts on Korean TV, there were wild
scenes as windsurfers and kiters received teen-idol screams on stage. It was a huge night and a fitting climax to a great season on the AWT. The 2005/06 season now awaits and the Tour will return to Taiwan in November when it will all begin again.

With thanks to sponsors :

The AWT is Presented by Fosters and supported by Neil Pryde, Cabrinha Kites, Neil Pryde Waterwear and JP Boards. The ULSAN International Windsurfing Championship is supported by Ulsan City Council, Ulju County, Korean Airlines, S~Oil, Hyundai Mobis, and organized by the Ulsan Windsurfing Association.

AWT 2005 Season

19-22 January 2005: Monsoon Madness, Kuantan, Malaysia
26-29 January 2005: Mana Mana Amslam, Bintan, Indonesia
31 January – 5 February 2005: Boracay Funboard Cup, Boracay, Philippines
16-20 February 2005 : Marianas Open, Saipan
27 – 31 May, 2005: Ulsan International Windsurfing Championship, Korea

For more information turn to
Proteus Sports: Tel +852 2854 1713 / E-mail: [email protected]

Pro Division

Name Nationality Points
Micah Buzianis USA
Sam Ireland Canada
Dan Ellis UK
Jimmy Diaz US Virgin Islands
Akinori Goshi Japan

Men¹s Division (Under 40)

Name Nationality Points
Lee Jae Cheol
German Paz Philippines 39
Chris Newman UK
Keiichi Kobayachi Guam 51
Pierre Juel Denmark

Silver Master¹s Division (40-50)

Name Nationality Points
T. C. Chua
Alex Mowday Australia 57
Masato Ogawa Japan

Gold Master¹s Division (over 50)

Name Nationality Points
George Gesner
George Warren UK
Hironori Ishihara Japan


Name Nationality Points
Yoko Tosa
Ayako Suzuki Japan
Fele Meyer Philippines

Junior (Under 20)

Name Nationality Points
Howard Chang
EK Boonsawad Thailand 97
Lee Beung Gun Korea

Foster¹s Kite Boarding Competition Champion: Robert Jordan Saipan


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