When Keith Atkinson departed from Gatwick he took with him the 'obligatory'

huge pile of equipment, plus a very heavy cold, with the event due to start

the following morning the odds on his chances of success were not looking great

but with his usual grin he departed for the warmer climate of Florida, hoping

the sun would sort thing's out.

After a long flight and the usual delays in retrieving kit he was well ready

for a good nights sleep. The evening was warm and very humid. Dawn arrived all

too soon and upon peering out of the window for the sun, guess what, it was


Following a quick breakfast it was off to the briefing to join around 200 competitors,

from a record 13 nations who had arrived for the USA's most important gathering

the '18th Calema Midwinters Festival' event held on the Banana River next to

the Cape Canaveral Space Centre. This is the arena for the worlds best to test

their latest gear. Formula's top windsurfers were there including Kevin Pritchard,

Antoine Albeau, Wojtek Bzorzorski, Jimmy Diaz and Phil McGain who were just

some of the top names.

Day one saw three Formula races held in relatively light wind conditions of

around 12 knots. Keith who is sponsored by NEILPRYDE and STARBOARD achieved

a 15th place in the first race and by race three he was settling into the event,

he managed to keep ahead of ex world champion Phil McGain and was only a short

distance behind the current World champion Kevin Pritchard as he crossed the

finish line in 14th place.

Day two saw Keith lying in 10th position overall and 1st Youth however there

was only 3 to 6 knots of wind and not enough for the Formula fleet to get out

and race.

Day three provided more wind with 7 to 12 knots enabling a further three races

to be held. Keith's cold was beginning to take it's toll but he managed to hold

on to his Gold Medal position as '1st Youth' with another overall 15th placing

in the last race, giving him an overall ranking of 17th. This is a really great

start to the 2003 season for Keith and this winters Formula training appears

to be paying dividends, despite having a back problem through November, December

and January, which had threatened this event.