The 2013/14 Breakwater to Beacon will definitely go down as a memorable event, despite more than a few hiccups we ended up with perfect weather, a new course and a new winner for the 25th Event.
This year we had our fair share of obstacles thrown at us, seemingly trying to stop the event from happening. Firstly we were left short staffed to run the event after our star windsurfer and all round nice guy Tim Clarke decided to get a real job as an engineer. Then 3 days before the event Hampton Lifesaving club had to pull out of their boat support. Two days before the event the jet ski blew a head-gasket and could not be repaired in time then on the day our main support boat and the boat we were going to use for the mark busted it's anchor winch as we were about to head out to the beacon.
This left our planned 4 boat safety fleet in tatters with only one rubber dinghy left, heroically helmed by James Neeson. Rather than cancel the event we decided that we couldn't let the 23knots of summer sunny wind perfection go begging so we opted for a safety compromise and decided to set the mark about half way to the beacon and do two laps.
The only remaining member of our safety fleet - huge thanks to James Neeson for making it happen!
This added a new dimension to the race - suddenly everyone had to turn three corners instead of the usual one gybe plus competitors had to dodge each other with the figure eight course. Despite the challenges all 45 entrants managed to stay safe (although a few fins are now lying on the reef at the north end of Sandringham beach) and we saw the most exciting racing that I have witnessed in my years of being involved in this iconic race.
The race briefing - Huddo trying to sound in control despite the dramas with the support boats behind the scenes
The racing fleet for the event was impressive with 45 competitors making the start. There were the usual suspects like many time winner Ian Fox, bay blaster Phil Hodges, all round superstar Joel Ryan, winner from the early days Arthur Brett, freestyle cousins Andy and Chris Ackland, bay racers Jerry, Alex, Bondy, Evan then WV stalwarts Anton, Andrew, Jerzy and Steve plus many more regulars who pitch themselves against the best or just enjoy taking on their windsurf mates in a more formal racing atmosphere - rumour had it Jerzy and Kurt where racing each other for high stakes. In addition to the regulars we had local world leading speedster Spotty who tested our rescue capabilities before the race but still impressively managed to still get himself to the start despite breaking a mast and losing a boom. Then there was a father son team from Tasmania who made a split second last minute decision to get on a plane and test their capabilities against Victorias best.
Some nice demo gear on offer - rigged and ready to go... the wave gear on the right almost made the top 10
This was going to make for a great race... The usual Le-mans beach start seemed to go without a hitch (huddo didn't fall through any sails this year) and definitely seemed to favour the riders on the downwind Northern end of the line who were brave enough to roll the dice against the well known (or apparently not that well known) rocky reef of sandringham beach. Whilst many competitors battled to find clean wind and get off the start, Arthur Brett showed why he is a past winner with a flying start taking out a huge lead off the line but the undisputed master of the Breakwater to Beacon Ian "Foxy" Fox would soon catch him rounding the mark in first place with Spotty and the young Tasmanian Izaak Perkins not too far behind.
The usual battle for clean wind off the start!
The fleet is underway and the race is on! (nice photo Sue)
From here the race was on in what was some of the most exciting windsurfing that I've ever seen. After the first turm Foxy set a course straight at the mark while Izaak opted for a pre determined strategy of going high while Spotty was battling with an 8m+ sail just to stay on the water but if anyone could hold it it would be him. Foxy was coming into the second mark in first place but Izaak was rocketing downwind towards the mark at blistering speed making up a significant amount of ground then through the gybe Izaak was lightening fast coming out at full speed. The difference was about 6 secs and closing with both Foxy and Izaak clearly pushing as fast as possible... it looked like things were going to be super tight when suddenly Foxy pushed a little too hard and took a trip over the handlebars giving Izaak the lead. The race was far from over though with Foxy quickly back up to speed and chasing down the young Tasmanian. It would be a race of attrition with Spotty waiting to pounce on the top two if they made the slightest error in the rough and windy conditions. Izaak had to hold his gybe and keep his speed without crashing in order to stave off a Foxy comeback but held his nerve well to scream across the finish line 20secs ahead of Foxy with Spotty a further 20secs behind. It was an amazing race and although Izaak had to earn it he was a very deserving winner. I'm looking forward to next year where I'm sure both rider will be back for a rematch!
2nd Leg - Izaak (left on Neilpryde EVO5) taking an upwind position against Foxy (Right on red sail)
We followed the event with the customary BBQ and drinks where everyone could share their stories of triumph or missed opportunities and hardships. Stephen Coward was a deserving winner of the Gaastra Cross sail drawn in the lucky draw. Kurt has to be thanked for his help on the BBQ and Sue for the photos. Once again it was great to see the Victorian windsurfing community getting together and having fun - the spirit and the sport is alive and well and with continued support from the windsurfing community SHQ look forward to running more of our windsurfing events for years to come.
Steve takes home the sail at the lucky draw during the post race BBQ and drinks
In addition to the changing of the guard with Izaak taking the win from Ian Fox, notable mentions have to also go to Izaak's dad, Anthony Perkins who still managed to come in 7th despite breaking his universal joint half way through the race and had to sail with the mast banging around on the deck, also recent arrival from Germany Chris Fikus who was the first in on wave gear just outside the top 10 riding the JP freestyle wave and Neilpryde Atlas, then Chris Ackland with freestyle gear who managed to come in 13th. Unfortunately we couldn't manage to keep track of the full list of places but we were able to get most of the top 20 below (with the exception of 12th and 19th place who's vest we couldn't read as they went through the finish line).
New champion!!! Well done Izaak Perkins!
1. Izaak Perkins
2. Ian Fox
3. Craig Spottiswood
4. Joel Ryan
5. Arthur Brett
6. Anton Vdovin
7. Anthony Perkins
8. Dan Bainbridge
9. Simon McCormack
10. Michael Squires
11. Chris Fikus
13. Chris Ackland
14. Alex Kubenko
15. Andy Ackland
16. Peter Bond
17. Jerry Copestake
18. Stephen Coward
20. Kurt Vereker
Thanks again for all the support from all the competitors and we look forward to seeing you all race again next year!
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