Asian Windsurfing Championships / SIM Singapore Open: Australian Pro Racer Sean O´Brien from Brisbane wins the Formula Class
Read the full story of Sean to get a bit more infos about his victory, Singapore and the windsurfing conditions at the Southeast Asian city-state.
Come January there is usually not too much going on in the windsurfing world; that is, unless you live in the southern-hemisphere, where it’s “on-season” time right now!
Arriving home to Australia just 2 weeks before Christmas I got the invite from some friends in Asia to travel to Singapore to compete at the Asian Windsurfing Championships in the second week of January. Having been to ‘Singas’ before, I know just how beautiful this city is, so naturally jumped at the chance and 8 hours plane-ride later, I was touching down at Changi International, one of the best airports in the world.
The event was scheduled for 11-15th January at the NSRCC club along the Changi Coast Walk (quite close by to the airport). The NSRCC windsurfing club is such an amazing piece of infrastructure, purpose built for windsurfing with multiple access ramps, big, shady grass areas for rigging, a number of restaurants and a bar, and a huge amount of storage for windsurfing kit for all the members.
I arrived the week before to get some tuning in on my new equipment and also to run some coaching sessions and clinics for the BIC Techno Youth Team and Olympic RS:X team – as well as a big clinic for the Formula guys. Singapore is not ultra famous for wind, however over the weekend of the planned clinics we had beautiful 15-20 knot NE’ers, which is slightly offshore at this location so kept the conditions on the water a little shifty and challenging. A bunch of keen BIC & RS:X sailors were out in force on the Saturday and we ran a full day’s training both on the water and land. On the Sunday I attempted the same thing with the Formula guys which kicked off with a big clinic on gear rigging, setup and tuning before a large rainstorm arrived and killed the wind for the day and kept us at the restaurant rather than the water…
Racing started on the Thursday with a large turnout across all classes for the event but only 14 sailors in the Formula class. We managed to knock away 2 races on the first day including sitting through a big rain squall with winds over 25 knots. That would have been fine normally, but these days it’s near impossible to take gear on planes out of the east coast of Australia so I had only brought one sail with me and one fin; a new P7 Handcrafted 11.5m and a 73cm cutdown to go with my new Starboard F167wide – not exactly the setup for 25 knots!!
I took two bullets in the first day’s racing ahead of Meng (SIN-0) and Harold Ma (SIN-36) with the courses featuring a long slalom downwind course to the finish line, which was pretty interesting and brutal on the big fins when the wind was strong!
For the opening ceremony we had a BBQ at the nearby National Service Resort bungalows for all the sailors and I did a presentation about my life as a windsurfer and showed some of the videos I have made over the past few seasons, before we sat down for some beers and watched an old school PWA World Tour 1997 Highlights DVD (arguable one of the coolest highlight movies of the tour, ever).
On day 2 we were blessed with similar winds and again I took 2 bullets, but with the inclusion of Englishmen Chris Newman (GBR-88), who’d managed to get a day off work finally and took two 2nd’s ahead of Meng (SIN-0) and Harold (SIN-36). I was really happy with the performance of my new F167wide as it’s only the second time I have sailed it. The angles upwind in lightwinds are simply amazing and surprisingly it performs well in strong winds as I never bother to put a chicken-strap on so in the 25 knot gusts in the rainsqualls I was able to comfortably grip the board with my heel in the “chicken-cavity’s” (that’s what I’m calling them from now on) and have great control and grip with my feet downwind despite being too overpowered to even hook in to the harness on the 11.5m!!
The following two days we got skunked for wind and spent most of the day on the beach rigging sails and chatting about windsurfing in Asia. The event was sponsored by a massive club in Singapore called The Butter Factory, which was always going to be dangerous so with a forecast of almost ZERO chance of wind on the final day we all decided to hang out late at Butter…
The event concluded with a big closing ceremony inviting some ministers down as well as the sponsors (they do love their fanfares in Asia, which is really cool!) and a huge dinner buffet of fresh fish and chinese style cooking.
On the flip side of the windsurfing, one of my best buddies lives in Singapore these days and in the evenings I’d spent the time with him visiting many of the amazing places Singas has to offer including the $8 billion casino/hotel complex Marina Bay Sands, Sentosa Beach, the Lantern rooftop pool bar at the Fullerton Bay Hotel, the ‘crystal-inspired’ transparent glass nightclub called Avalon which is floating on the water in Marina Bay as well as checking out the preparations for Chinese New Year next week in Chinatown and the surrounds.
So much culture within an amazingly futuristic and modern city that is super clean and has almost ZERO crime – too good to be true, right?
Singapore is one of those ‘must do’ places on the travel calendar and luckily for me I have to fly through it to actually go anywhere outside of Australia. There is a great infrastructure and support for windsurfing events in Asia and Singapore was no exception. I’m definitely hoping to get over there to race again where I can and also it was a good chance to catch up with some of the locals there who are coming to Australia to race at our Oceanic/Australian Formula Windsurfing Championships at Hawks Nest, NSW in 2 weeks.
For a full writeup and results, check Sean´s website here:
1.Sean O’Brien (AUS-120)
2.Wang Yew Pang (SIN-0) – 1st Asian
3.Matthieu Laura (FRA-11)
4.Harold Ma (SIN-36)
5.Yeap Leong Soo (MAS-7)
© Sean O´Brien, Howie Choo / www.howiephoto.com, continentseven.com