Pete Davis brings us results from the 1st round of the 2011 European Speed Tour from the Belgian National Championships held in Gruissan, France – Garrel and Van Hoof lead the European Championships ... but it's maybe not the Van Hoof you think!
David Garrel who sails for Luxemburg and Nicky Van Hoof from Belgium lead the European Tour Championship after the first round. David is a seasoned professional who has been involved in speedsailing since God was a boy and one time was the 2nd fastest man in the world, to Finian Maynard. Nicky is a relative newcomer to speed sailing but being the daughter of Patrick Van Hoof who has been the fastest Belgian on the world tour for many years it is not really surprising as it must be in the genes! Despite the bad weather forecast 51 enthusiastic entries arrived on the beach at Gruissan for the start of the competition.
Monday , first race day, the wind strength was good, but the direction was onshore and there were 2 meters breaking waves, not exactly good speed sailing conditions! The race officer decided that he couldn't guarantee the safety of the riders, so he cancelled the race for that day and with his team of volenteers worked on the logistics of moving the competition to a inland lake location, La Nautique.
Tuesday the race officer announced the move the event to La Nautique to get flatter water conditions. The course was set up, but to the frustration of the race crew and the competitors alike the wind was not very strong, around 14 knots, it .then died to 8 knots, so racing was called off for the day again.
Wednesday, the wind again wasn't that strong but the tenacoius crew set up the course. A skippers meeting was called and it was announced that they would start the race and If the speeds were high enough it would be made official. If not then it would be a fun race.
The wind gods were with them this time and the wind increased. Which with the latest speed and slalom eqipment and of course the skill of the top riders they were achieving runs of over 30 knots, Impressive in just 15 to 20 knots of wind. Most importantly it was a counting round and the European Speed tour Championship was underway.
Thursday, the wind was very light and the forecast was poor so racing was cancelled for the day. With a forecast of stronger winds for the final day the competitors were free to explore the area and take in the sites.
Friday the final day and the forecasted strong winds lead to disappointment when the riders arrived on the spot and saw immediately that it was not the wind they had been promised. The race officer decided to keep everybody on hold. From the boats they got the message that the wind was up and down but had picked up and was between 15 and 25 knots, but with wind shifts of 45°. They changed the course 3 times! At 2 O’clock (14.00) the race officer gave the sign that the competition was over. There was still not enough consistent wind, it was good for some free sailing but not for a competition. 30 minutes later it proved to be a good decision because the wind dropped completely. At 17.00 o’clock prize giving was held, with a lot of great equipment given by FANATIC and SONNTAG Fins.
Truly a week of highs and lows. They achieved counting round which was great for the competitors but it was a pity that there was not more races, but that’s windsurfing.
Results men top 3
1. David Garrel
2. Thorsten Mallon
3. Patrick Van Hoof
Results women top 3
1. Nicky Van Hoof
2. Birgit Höfer
3. Imke De Bruyn
Next round is in Sweden at Surf Club Klagsham from the 2nd of June to the 6th. The numbers are limited so book early details on www.speedworldcup.com. Confirmed and back from Injury is Zara Davis the current women’s speed No1 and all the top Swedish riders are going to be there.
For the full ISWC ranking after the 1st round of the European Championship Tour visit www.speedworldcup.com/general-news/iswc-rankings-updated.html