2014 Green Island Nationals
The final day of competition on Green Island for the 2014 Australian Slalom Championships finished up today after 5 days of heavy racing with Brisbane rider Sean O’Brien leading the pack ahead of Rowen Law from Western Australia and Michel Van Der Pligt from Brisbane.
Strong, consistent winds have peppered the island this week with racing taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday in winds over 35 knots making for some challenging conditions for the sailors. O’Brien and Law had been trading places only 1 point apart for most of the week before O’Brien took a giant step forward in the points to cement his lead after taking another win in the races today despite Law winning the final race of the event. Kaleb Smith, of Tasmania managed to claw back to 4th by 1 point to Luke Baillie, another Brisbane sailor and O’Brien’s teammate on the Windsurfing Pro Tour and rounding out the Top 5.
O’Brien said about the conditions during the week:
“It’s a pretty special place to race here (Green Island). I’m based in Europe for most of the year to do the Pro Tour but I fly home for this event because it’s one of the best places to windsurf around the globe. We’ve had extremely strong winds this week which have made the racing pretty exciting with lots of crashes at the gybe marks! It’s extremely close up the front as there’s at least 5 guys who have the speed to win a race so there’s no easy heats!”
In the Australian Freestyle Championships, which finished up on Wednesday, the podium spots were dominated by Western Australia with Alastair Bentley, James McCarthy-Price and Max Ploumis making the Top 3. The strong winds made for some radical and challenging conditions with the competition taking place in the flat waters of the island’s reef shelves giving the best platform for the multitude of flip and spin tricks competitors are capable of in flat water.
The ladies events were hotly contested this year with 2x PWA Wave World Champion and multi-Olympian Jessica Crisp (NSW) making a return to slalom after many years. Jessica and Karen Robertson (TAS) contested the slalom against the men with Jessica qualifying for nearly all of the winner’s finals before a back injury after a crash put her out of the last day and she finished in 11th overall.
Competitors in the Freerace division, where average speeds were logged by GPS over 5x 1-hour long sessions during the week took advantage of the strong, consistent winds over the week. Kaleb Smith (TAS) took the overall title ahead of Michel Van Der Pligt (QLD) and Dave Moorehead (TAS). Kellie Tusler (QLD) dominated the ladies’ Freerace and put many of the men to shame, finishing in 5th overall against the men with consistent speeds over the week.
This multi-discipline Australian Championship event is hosted in one of Australia’s most famous National Park islands, home to many rare and native Australian animals and plants; situated on the Great Barrier Reef, boasting some of the clearest waters and abundant reefs in the southern hemisphere. During the winter months, Green Islands cops the ‘trade winds’ with conditions exceeding 20 knots nearly every single day throughout May-August, perfect for windsurfing competition and an ideal location to host this premier windsurfing event.