The Lancelin Ocean Classic, Australia’s biggest windsurfing event, started
back in 1986 with a fist full of enthusiast local towns people and windsurfers
from all over the state and has grown into the mammoth event that it is today.
The usual sleepy Cray fishing, (lobsters), town of Lancelin has a residing population
of 800 and swells to many thousands over the four-day event. The event starts
with two days of wave sailing followed by the Ledge to Lancelin Ocean Marathon,
which the event started from and attracts anywhere from 200 to 350 competitors
and day four is M course slalom.

Wave Sailing Thursday & Friday 8th & 9th January 2004
The wave sailing starts on Thursday and has around 65 competitors, depending
on conditions and finishes the following day. Wave sailing has professional,
women’s and amateur divisions and has seen battles between some of the
worlds best. Aussie hot shots Ty Bodycoat, Luke Walmsley, Blair Simpson, Scott
McKercher and overseas competitors Nik & Ant Baker, Peter Volwater, Canadian,
Sam Ireland and Josh Stone & Jason Polakow came just for the party. Wave
riding conditions in summer is port tack, cross on to cross off in the afternoon,
reef break, wind strength from 15 to 28 knots. Race Headquarters is the Endeavour
Tavern which is absolute beach front and spectators can view the sailing from
the front grassed area or inside the pub where the event can be seen on the
big screen TV, all of the event is filmed and beamed back live to the Tavern.
There is no carrying any kit, depending where you park on the beach, maximum
walk 20 meters, beach to the waters edge and sail away. Judges and photographers
are boated out to a purpose built scaffold, which is erected on the reef in
front of the competition, so nothing is missed. In the event of dodgy conditions
the wave sailing is carried over to Saturday after the marathon and Sunday during
the slalom, we always have a result.

Ledge To Lancelin Marathon Saturday 10th January 2004
The marathon is where it all started and the field is made of mostly of one
event a year competitors, most just want to be able to finish the course. The
marathon starts in Ledge Point, which is the next small town south of Lancelin,
a 19-kilometre drive by road. Hundreds of competitors converge on the small
town early Saturday morning, mostly just to get parking and join the line to
register. All competitors are given line positions as they enter, which starts
months before the event, there is a flood of eager early entries to secure best
line position. The last few years’ kites have been doing the marathon
but starting one hour before the sailboards. If the wind is to the desired strength
the race starts at 2 o’clock, the marathon is a 20 plus kilometre zigzag
down wind race, competitors are lined up side by side in rows down the beach
and the start is a Le Mans. The outside rounding marks are Cray fishing boats
and inside are smaller fishing vestals. The course is littered with rescue craft
and is usually covered by air. Ages of competitors range from 15 to 65 and all
divisions, professional, women, open, masters, grand masters, youth and novice.
Strict safety rules are followed all competitors have to carry to orange smoke
flares and an Australian Standards life jacket. Overseas visitors can either
buy them or jackets and flares con be hired from the event van on the day. To
buy jackets in Australia is anywhere from $50 to $90 and two flares around $40.00
or if you are able bring a jacket from home, make sure it is internationally
recognised, don’t know about the flares in the plane though. Hiring, $50
returnable deposit, jacket hire $10 and two flares $10 each with a buy back
of $5 each if in the same condition. Professionals are awarded top front row
positions as they are racing for money and amateur’s prises, total cash
and prize pool around $20,000. Previous winners over the years have been big
names both from Australia and overseas, Norway Svein Rasmussen (Star Boards),
Sweden Anders Bringdal, Sweden Per Anderson, British Virgin Islands Finian Maynard,
England Ant Baker, Australian’s Phil McGain, Dan Engdhal, Mike Galvin,
Don Williamson, Mark Pederson. Time for the top guys in is depending on wind
strength and direction is around 25 to 35 minutes and the last of the field
is 1.30 hours. Minimum wind strengths for a race start are 12 Knots so many
crew on wave gear hang out to the last minute to decide if they can finish.
The zigzag course brings you directly through South passage, (where the wave
sailing is done), and a fast run straight into the finish van on the beach in
front of race headquarters and a cheering crowd. Saturday, up to 2 o’clock
Lancelin is pretty much a ghost town until the race takes off then it is a fast,
within the speed limit, race back to town to get to see the finish. At race
headquarters, kite surfers are doing big air and expressions session entertaining
the waiting spectator crowd. Then you have a few hours to go for a sail or get
cleaned up the party of the year. Presentations for the waves and marathon are
on that night.

The Tavern along with Cougar Bourbon, Swan Brewery and Perth radio station 92.9,
are the major sponsors, all of the action is based around the tavern. Thursday
night is the start of the build up to the next few nights, heaps of windsurfing
crew, lots of pool games and music. Friday night is in house promotions and
entertainment, i.e. buy drink win stuff and a great night as more and more people
are arriving for the rest of the weekend and a good night to recruit girls for
the Miss Lancelin Ocean Classic, held on Saturday night. Great night but some
crew hold back for the next day’s gruelling racing and save up on brain
cells for the ones they will destroy the next night. Saturday night really goes
off, it all starts with a bevy of young beauties strutting their stuff in front
of an eager crowd and even more eager judges, Josh Stone, Jason Polakow, Peter
Volwater and event sponsors, someone has to do it. Kevin Bloody Wilson was MC
in 2002 and last years MC the cleaver Rob Goyan. Miss Lancelin Ocean Classic
2003 was the lovely Emma Barwell from Ireland a real crowd pleaser. This is
followed by presentations then the remote controlled helicopters and fire works,
which is awesome then the live band plays to an excited thousands till 1 am.

Sunday morning is very slow to start but some make it for the days racing which
can be from 35 to 65 competitors for the slalom. All of the racing is done on
the pristine water in front of the tavern and can be viewed in comfort from
the tavern. Slalom is boat starts on an M course and all divisions. Sunday night
is presentations for slalom and entertainment for the bodies that are left.


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