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Tornado at Worthington US NationalsSunday, 15 Jun, 2008
Worthington certainly knows how to put on a regatta for the 65 competitors who made their way from all over the country and beyond for the US Nationals. From Tornados to glorious sunny conditions, a beautiful lake just perfect for windsurfing, and the lively sounds of the Unvarnished Music Festival made this a most memorable week. The US Nationals have just concluded for 2008 with 17 spectacular races in Formula and 19 races in the open Raceboard fleets. The race committee and organizers made the most of every opportunity to make this five day event a racing spectacular.
Fernando Martinez dominated the fleet, with Ron Kern, Peter Bonello and Allison Shreeve in a hard fought tussle for the minor placings. Over 65 competitors turned out for a week of grueling racing in conditions ranging from 4 to 40 knots. Allison Shreeve, competing throughout the week on the Formula Windsurfing One Design kit finished an impressive third overall in the Formula fleet and first woman.
Day one, the regatta forecast was for strong winds. This was an understatement when winds gusting 35-40knots graced the course area. The course was set across the lake and with a windward leeward/M slalom course on the outer loop which made for some really spectacular crashes at the buoys. While everyone had a bit on, it was impressive to see even the beginners out there having a go, and with the course set close to shore, the spectators were given a real treat, complete with commentary that could be heard far and wide! Allison ended up with 5th at the end of the day, and a large hole in her board courtesy of a starting line crash. The final race for the Raceboard fleet was cancelled due to a category 4 Tornado heading straight for Worthington. Panic stations and a mad rush to pack up equipment and to get inside was the goal, and soon half of the fleet congregated in the small fort of the Kremer’s beach house watching the TV for weather updates. The Tornado went around and Worthington was back in the safe zone.
While day two was not quite as “exciting”, everyone was feeling the muscle pain a bit more than usual, so the race committee had pity and only ran four races in the lighter winds. The unveiling of the handmade wooden trophies at the briefing definitely served as an incentive for doing well for the rest of the week.
Day three the power generating windmills were working from sunrise with another 25-35knot day. Thankfully the direction was a little more in the SW so it wasn’t so gusty coming down the lake. Because the waves picked up more than before the race committee had to use five anchors just to hold the boat still in the silt and only managed three races for the day. Allison still in touch with top three but lingering in 5th had some work to do in the final two days.
Finally a light wind day on day four with barely enough wind to race. After canceling the first race because only Fernando and Allison made the starting line in time and then came off the plane half way up the first work, they started the race again in 4-8knots of breeze. While some struggled to stay in the gusts, others thrived taking advantage of every puff of wind they could find to get around the outer looped course. Allison came away with two firsts and a very close second putting her into third place on a count back to fourth. Allison said, “I was really happy with the performance of the Formula One Design equipment in super light wind. We were starting 10 minutes behind the Raceboards and RS:X fleets and nearly caught them all by the finish of a 30 minute race.”
The final day of racing had everyone on their toes. A warning was issued from the race committee that they would start as early as possible in order to be off the water by 1:30pm. So with that notion all sailors dragged their tired and sore bodies out of bed earlier to make the first start of the day at 10am. A NW breeze was building, different from the past days, much more shifty and gusty, but still the races were started. The first race of the day Allison crossed the fleet but then got stuck in a hole with no wind, then the fleet got stuck in a hole and Allison caught up again. The lead changed so many times that it was a lottery as to who would get to the next mark first.
Following pack up Allison held a presentation of the Formula Windsurfing One Design equipment on the beach where most of the racers attended. Many technical questions were asked, but most of all people were pleased with the performance of the equipment from 4-40knots of wind with one kit.
Allison will now head home for one month to recover and prepare for the rest of the European season. She intends on competing at the FW Europeans in Poland and the FW Worlds in Portugal in the coming months.
For more pics from Worthington you can visit http://www.danorm.com/photo/allisonhtml.