The Formula Windsurfing World Championship, which runs until Saturday in Praia da Vitoria, continued today with the completion of another four races. This is an extremely challenging competition, so many top competitors in contention, fast and furious racing with thrills and spills providing nail-biting spectator entertainment.
Britain's Ross Williams continues to lead, but Australian Steve Allen was the star performer today with 2 firsts and 2 seconds shortening Ross' lead to just two points.
The good news was that Italian Marco Begalli was fit and well enough to race today after his trip to the hospital the day before.
The first race of the day saw an average wind speed of 12.5 knots, gusting 18 knots. The start and finish were in the middle of the course with a short beat to mark 1 and a long downwind to mark 2. Ross took the first bullet having managed to overtake Steve by the third lap but he had some mixed results in the next 3 races, including a port starboard incident after the start of race 8.
Argentine Gonzalo Hoevel put in a great performance today, pulling himself back into contention, ditching his two rubbish results from the day before, and finishing today in third overall. He maintained a huge lead over the pack in the second race in winds that had increased to 16 knots gusting 22 knots.
The wind stayed the same for the third race in the early afternoon when again Gonzalo was leading the pack. Arnon Dagan ISR-1 was giving him a run for his money but it was Steve Allen who crossed the line just ahead of Arnon, Gonzalo having to settle for third.
And so to the last race of the day when gusts of 25 knots were recorded in the middle of the course. After Ross completed a penalty turn he was unable to make much ground and is no doubt pleased to be able to discard his eighth place in this one. There was a big fight on the upwind leg between Vincent Langer GER-1 and Steve Allen but Steve held his position to take the bullet, and Gonzalo gained ground to take second with Michal Polonowski POL-16 coming in third over the line. Vincent had to settle for fourth.
Thus we have ten different nations represented in the top ten after 8 races, some having moments of brilliance, others sailing more consistently.
Friday's racing is expected to be big again with good, strong winds forecast and another four races scheduled. Can the top three - Ross Williams on 10 points, Stephen Allen on 12 and Gonzalo Costa Hoevel on 16 - keep the rest of the pack off the podium?
Results after 8 races
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Sean O'Brien reports from Azores
Photos by Eric Bellande
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