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Aussies rule at Formula Windsurfing World Championships, KoreaSunday, 10 Sep, 2006
The Formula Windsurfing World Championships in Gangneung city, Korea has finished successfully with Australians Steve Allen and Allison Shreeve taking the Mens and Womens world titles, the first time both titles have been won by Australians in the same year.
Most of the week sailors and officials were frustrated with light winds and the lack of races with only two of the six day event producing adequate racing conditions that allowed for only six races to be completed.
Gangnueng city put on one of the largest and most spectacular windsurfing events ever in Korea with live entertainment on the beach, an impressive opening and closing ceremony, and hundreds of volunteers which made the event very successful. Allison was Australia’s representative to participate in the “mixing of the waters” ceremony that formed part of the opening celebrations.
Many discussions were made at the beginning of the regatta as to whether the women would race with the men. In the end it was decided to mix the fleets, despite the protesting of most of the women. With a sail size limit of 11m for girls and 12.5m for men, it made if very difficult for the women to get clear starts. "I struggled because of the sail size limit and lack of wind, however all the girls were in the same position so in that regard it was still fair racing" said Allison. After 6 races with one discard, Allison won 4 of the races claiming the title from Yshie Ishinoda of Japan in 2nd, and Sarah Herbert of France taking 3rd. "I have contested 3 world titles in Speed, Slalom and Formula, and the pre Olympics in Beijing within the past month, so it was great to still come out on top and successfully defend my world title, despite being quite tired" said Allison.
Allison’s board broke after hitting a crab net in the 5th race and was forced to complete two races with a severely cracked nose on her board and broken fin box. Although her speed was affected she still managed a first and a second in those races. "I saw the net at the last second, and because I was on a wave about to gibe I didn’t have much power in my sail to avoid the net. I hit at full speed and catapulted over the front losing many places and breaking my board. I was surprised that I could still sail the last two laps and the last race with some speed after such a bad crash" reported Allison.
Steve Allen lead from day one with some solid results in the light shifty races. With a one point lead all week, waiting for the wind became a battle with his nerves, and Ross Williams, Julien Quentel, and Antione Albeau breathing down his neck. He commented, "I was nervous but stayed focused and always prepared to race if the wind picked up. This was my main goal for the year so I'm stoked to win." Ross Williams broke his fin during the 2nd last race and ended up with two DNF's putting him almost out of the prize money from 2nd to 15th place. Julien Quentel and Antoine Albeau (the defending world champion) both from France, came 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Light winds all week led to some controversial racing causing two competitors to leave the venue after the 2nd day. This created many discussions about future wind limits and class rules regarding board, fin and sail sizes which are yet to be resolved. “In the end, it was the people that didn’t give up, who endured to the end even in the trying conditions, who ‘kicked a goal’ for sportsmanship and windsurfing in general” said Allison, reflecting on the week that was.
Allison now makes her way to Italy for the RS:X Olympic class World Championships being held in Lake Garda, Italy from 20th-30th September, before heading home to Sydney.