IBSA Raceboard Windsurfing World Championships
OF DUNKIRK ,1997
Been there done that. On the 22nd of July I departed from the chilly waters of New Zealand bound for Dunkirk in France to compete in the 1997 IBSA Raceboard Windsurfing World Championships July 28- August 3.
The Raceboard class is similar to the Mistral Olympic class in the size of board and sails used , but thats where it stops. Where as the Mistral class is strict One Design the Raceboard rules allow you to use any brand of sail and board. These are generally lighter and faster that the Mistral and also gives you the chance to customise your equipment to suit your own sailing style. I have be doing this with Tushingham sails of England over the last 4 months and we came up with something pretty fast in all wind conditions.
I flew to England to pick up my new equipment and spend a couple of days training. I left for Dunkirk on the 27th 3 days before the competition was to begin and stayed with some English friends. Registration and measurement began on the 28th and racing started on the 30th of July.
There were a few new faces around and some sailors I had never raced before. This was to be interesting because usually I know all of my competition inside out.
July 30th Day 1- racing was postponed for an hour until the wind filled in at 15 knots with flat water with a very strong current. Three; races two firsts and a second a good way to start the contest. My main competition came from Remco Otten of Holland , he had two seconds and a first.
July 31st Day 2- we were greeted with winds touching 25 knots and some big waves. This is where the going gets tough and the tough get going. I revelled in these conditions. I had 3 firsts and my main opposition had a bad day finishing out of the top 5 in each race. I had a little trouble in the third race of the day on the 3rd to last leg I caught a thick length of rope around my fin. This stopped me very quickly and catapulted me over the front of my board breaking my harness line and smashing a hole in the front of my board. I lost two places but managed to pass them back on the last leg.
August 1st Day 3 - the forecast said winds up to 30 knots but we could see the wind was dying. We only managed two races ; I won the first race and placed second to Remco Otten of Holland.
August 2nd Day 4 - light winds postponed racing for 5 hours , we only managed to get in one shortened race and that was a marginal call from the race committee. I won this race which put me in an almost unassailable lead ; 16 points clear of second going into the last day.
August 3rd Day 5 - things did not look good the wind had come and gone , We waited and waited but the wind didnt get over 3 knots and racing was officially called off at 1 oclock which was the last possible start time for the contest.
That was it ! Aaron McIntosh was crowned 1997 Champion du Monde (World Champion) in the Raceboard class.
I set out with one thing in mind and that was to win. I had done the work and my new equipment was working well for me. I was strong in all wind conditions and made the least mistakes.
I can say on thing , the French really know how to put on a contest every thing ran smoothly , a great race committee , a social programme that was hard to miss and great exposure media wise. I was the only non European competitor , which caused small panic trying to find the New Zealand National anthem for the medal ceremony .
Next up I am off Australia on the 1st of September with Jon Paul Tobin for 2 weeks training and then competing in the Australian International Regatta in Sydney 18-21st and home on the 23rd. I will have 6 weeks in NZ before heading to Perth to build up for Mistral Olympic Class Worlds in December.
I would like to thank the support of my sponsors : Line 7 , Ripcurl wetsuits , Oakley Sunglasses , Power Bar, Windscene Windsurf , Twin Lab and the NZ Sports Foundation.
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