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Report: The New Zealand Windsurfing Slalom Nationals for the 2008-2009 season.

Thirty four competitors descended on Otago Harbour for the New Zealand Slalom Nationals running over four days from 5 to 8 February 2009. Gareth wood was the hot favourite, defending the men’s title and still fizzing from being joint winner of the Australian Slalom Champs in November 2008. In the Women’s competition, Annie Crombie returned from Christchurch to defend her title.  

Many traveled from various parts of the county including 6 competitors from Auckland and Gareth's main competition, James Dinnis, from Taranaki.

On the day before the competition, out-of-towners settled their gear into the shipping containers that had been set up at the event site to allow gear to remain rigged up and stored.  A few also took the opportunity to hit the water and reacquaint themselves with their beloved slalom gear that had been in transit to Dunedin for two weeks.  It was also a chance for friends to catch up and for a number of sailors new to the event to put faces to the names that have been appearing in the annual results tables for 12 or more years.

Up to 40 rounds were schedule for the four day competition. Each round comprising of four men’s and one women’s heat, each heat having 6-8 randomly chosen sailors, sailing a downwind slalom course with 5 gybe marks spaced 400 meters apart, finishing in front of the Otago Windsurfing Association clubhouse at the bottom of the bay.   The silver and men’s over 50 competitors sailed in the men’s heats.

Day one saw the daily maximum of ten rounds completed in conditions that turned out to be the most consistent for the 4 day event. Major sponsor flags of Lund South, Fanatic, Watercooled Sports were streaming in around 20 knots of wind.

The event race officer Rodger sent sailors out for the first two shakedown rounds to let the nerves settled and gear to be tuned. After a 30 minute break and some gear tweaking sailors returned to the water to gradually building conditions reaching 25 knots by late afternoon. In perfect sunny racing weather sailors were buzzing around in typical slalom fashion, fanging for the starts, collisions at the first mark, broken gear and rescues. Mal Porter had kindly entrusted the race committee with his yacht to act as the start boat, whilst he went to the New Zealand Kite Nationals in Christchurch.  A rescue boat was also on the water and was well used on day one including rushing Gareth Wood back to the clubhouse after breaking a boom before the start of a heat.

After day one Annie Crombie was sitting in first with Sue Bradley from Queenstown hot on her heals in second. James Dinnis came off the water sitting in 1st with 10 wins, Gareth Wood in 2nd with 8 firsts, Tim Wood leading the men’s over 50 division. 

Day two did not get underway till after midday. The North East wind was not as consistent as day one with 4 full rounds and only 2 heats of the next round being completed before the rain and North West wind came through and racing was called off for the day.  After 14 rounds and without discards James Dinnis remained in the lead with 10.5 points having won all his 14 heats so far. Gareth Wood was still in striking range in second on 19.5  points and Paul Vlietstra not far behind in third on 22.5 point.  In the Women’s division, the lead had changed with Sue Bradley leading on 21.5 points and Annie Crombie in second on 23.75 points. 

The typical NE sea breeze had a sleep in on day three which was a pleasant surprise for some competitors. The hot NW wind the previous night had some competitors quench their thirst a little too much and they were were in serious need of a sleep in themselves. 

By 2pm the reliable North Easter had kicked in again this time a little lighter but enough to get another 5 rounds completed in 13-20knots with some very close racing throughout the fleet with little change in the positions.

That evening competitors and volunteers headed to a bar in town for beer and pizza for the event social sponsored by Rodgers Dental Studio. By then enough ammo had been collected by the organizers to award prizes for infamous moments which resulted in cross dressing, competitors receiving eyelid sunburn cream, and the obligatory packet of Jaffas for each of the “Just Another Fast Aucklander”  competing in the event, though the F may have stood for the usual during the day’s racing.  

Day four rolled around quickly.  Possibly too quickly for many who’s bodies had by then had more that enough time on the water.  Several competitors chose to sit day four out. Leader James Dinnis turned up to the event site with less than 20 minutes to spare before the first start gun. What looked like a promising day turned out to not be so with conditions less than ideal with large holes in the course.  Some heats were won and lost during grovelling conditions.  In the end only two heats were sailed until Rodger called an end to the nationals.

Photos from event

 
Prize giving was held mid afternoon. A Fanatic Ray, Aerotech boom and C3 fin and many other prizes were given away to well deserving competitors, whilst everyone eagerly awaited final results and presentation of the cash prizes to the division leaders, $500 for both 1st Open Men & 1st Open Woman, $300 for 1st 50+ and 1st Silver fleet.

James Dinnis remained clear leader of the men’s competitions throughout the event, getting 20 wins and one second placing. Sue Bradley had to battle hard to ensure a win of the women’s competition with a mere 1.25 point lead over second place Annie Crombie, whilst Tim Wood was the convincing winner of the over 50 division, slotting into a very respectable 6th place overall and Paul Elton from Auckland taking out the Silver Fleet competition. After 21 rounds, including 4 discards the final results stand as follows :

Over 50 division

Place Points Surname First name
1 30.75 Wood Tim
2 52.5 Hall Simon
3 60.75 Limburg Tony
4 61 Monk Ross
5 71 Evans Graeme
6 90 Cooper George
7 94 Rodgers Jim
8 127 Westgate John
 

Womens

1 20.25 Bradley Sue
2 21.5 Crombie Annie
3 52 Heard Lydia
4 62 Taylor Nicola
5 87 Low Rachel
6 93 Waters Lucy
 

Mens open

1 12.75 Dinnis James
2 15.25 Wood Gareth
3 21.5 Vlietstra Paul
3 21.5 Beentjes Terry
5 24.75 Alkemade Terry
6 33.75 Dimock Chris
7 38.25 Patterson Sean
8 38.75 Blijlevens Anton
9 41.25 Jackson Gavin
10 51 Maulvurfs Kristaps
11 64 Taylor Nathan
12 71 Taylor Allan
13 72 Thomas Simon
14 75 Collins Ben
15 83 Wood Chris
16 85 Lumb Colin
16 85 Lund Russell
18 89 Shimizu Akihito
 

Silver fleet

1 110 Elton Paul
2 131 Hodgson Bruce
3 137 Cowan Tom

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