Corpus Christi Classic Windsurfing Regatta
8th May 2009
Corpus Christi, Texas - Racing began today in windy Corpus Christi. Long known for the warn breezes and friendly faces of the US Open, Texas delivered the goods again. At the 10am skipper's meeting, sailors were greeted with 20 knots of wind that they knew would only pick up as they made their way to the water for formula racing. After three grueling races, the sailors skipped over the breakwater into a flatwater speed sailing course using GPS to monitor their average speed over 10 sec and max speed. Maui Sails rider Jon Jay Earnst climbed his way to the top of the standings in both disciplines with his TeamRace sails. Earst is being challenged by PWA racer Enes Yilmazer from Turkey for the top spot in both disciplines as well. Maui Sails riders Charles Allen and Chad Allen claim the third spots in Formula and speed respectively.
Event Coordinator and Maui Sails rider Chad Allen says, "Corpus Christi has held this event for over twenty years and rarely disappoints. Our nationally recognized race committee from the CC Yacht club kept the flags rolling and the sailors on the water. After the formula races, the competitors crossed over to the speed course which offers excellent opportunities to bear off far down the marina and slide through the calm waters. I'm sure they will sleep well tonight."
On Thursday, the wind just kept on coming. Few sailors believed that it could get any windier, but it did. Most sailors had abandoned their 10m sails and gone down to 9 and 8.4m sails for formula racing. PWA racer/local college student, Enes Yilmazer, was in second place after the first day's racing and had a legitimate shot at the title. He was going faster in the first race and out in the lead when he had an equipment failure that made him miss two races and therefore lose any shot at the overall title.
Enes took it all in stride saying, "I'm here to windsurf and get better. It's nothing to worry about. It's all good." in his laid back Turkish accent. This was only his second day of formula racing. On the final day of the speed sailing challenge, Enes held onto his second place standing followed by local dentist and race director Dr. Chad Allen in third.
Jon Jay Earnst from Houston has been crowned the speed champion and is currently in first place in the formula competition also. Austinite Guy Miller has fought his way into second place after Yilmazer's misfortune. But though his is down, he is not out, Yilmazer ends Thursday’s competition in third place overall. Dr. Charles Allen, who began this event in 1987, continues to dip into the fountain of youth. He began the day in third overall, but has been bumped to fourth in the incredibly windy conditions. After two days of racing, the speed challenge has crowned it's champion and seven formula races are in the bag for the first and only throw out. Not bad since we still have two more days of racing on schedule The wind could not be more perfect for slalom sailing to start tomorrow afternoon.
Could it be too windy? Today was definitely a test. Winds gusted over 35mph as the already battered sailors made their way out on to the course today at McGee beach. Today brought conditions that would make any PWA pro drool with guaranteed slalom racing in the afternoon. The 10am first formula start had many racers trying to decide whether they would take their 8.4 or 7.6 to the race course. Factor in that they have already had seven formula races in 20 knots - and that smaller sail starts looking really good, maybe that 7.0m.
Enes Yilmazer seemed to find the right combination for today's challenging conditions. He had a DNF to make up from an equipment failure and knew he needed first place finishes to climb back into second. Well, he did just that and currently sits tied for second place with Guy Miller.
Only two formula races were run in these crazy conditions so that the sailors could get ready for some hair raising slalom. Safety became a real factor as huge puffs barreled down the course. Just half of the sailors braved the large swells and raging wind. One could argue that those on the beach proved to be more sound of mind. Not only would you be challenging the elements, but PWA slalom racer Yilmazer. He was like a gunslinger at the OK coral, dominating the competition. One race he headed for the wrong mark, which allowed other sailors to get almost leg ahead of him. Enes recalls that, "I was so mad at myself for not making the mark, I just knew that I had to get back on course and go as fast as possible."
With lightening speed, he picked off his competition to win by a nose at the finish. Six slalom races were completed, allowing for the first throughout and solidifying the slalom discipline in the regatta. With a day left, all three disciplines are official. Forecast for tomorrow: only 20 knots. Maybe the sailors can keep their boards on the water for a change.
Saturday concluded a superb week of competition in ideal conditions. The Corpus Christi Yacht Club has provided a world class race committee lead by commodore Mark Foster. It was obvious to the racers why they had won the St. Petersburg award for excellence. After accepting his third in Slalom and Formula Guy Miller said at the prize giving, "We had to get used to this precise group. If they said the race was going to start at 11, you'd better be out there, 'cause that's when they are starting. In my 30 years of racing, this has never happened."
Today two more formula races were completed in 15-20 knots, nearly half the wind as compared to yesterday. As the weekend crowds started to build, race director Chad Allen decided to run a figure eight slalom fun race right off the beach where sailors were encouraged to take their wave kit and add some expression session to the racing.
The wind was side onshore, so sailors were dodging swimmers and making backside aerials ten feet off of the sand. Though no scores were kept, the sailors received plenty of hoots and hollers from kids and adults up and down the beach. Bystanders surrounded sailors on the beach, asking all kinds of questions about the boards, sails, and how easy it was. There is plenty of stoke out there to be had. "Competition is one of the best parts of our sport, but sharing the stoke is way up there on my list" said Chad Allen.
At the prize giving, Sailors received laser etched trophies and cash prizes for first place finishers. Formula and Speed Challenge winner Jon Jay Ernst joked at the awards that he "always wanted to be a professional windsurfer." Looking at his big haul from the prize giving, you'd think he was pretty close. Michael Blann not only won the sportsmanship award, but a week of rentals and a lesson on Maui from Pritchardwindsurfing.com in the raffle. John Van Savage won a big stack of Maui Sails T-shirts in the raffle. The big prize of the night went to speed event organizer Chip Ducrest. His name was picked out of the hat for a brand new Maui Sails 7.6 race sail, one that he could have used in the 20-30 knots we saw during the event. PWA racer and Slalom Class Champion Enes Yilmazer in his acceptance speech said that, "I have raced around the world and Corpus Christi is one of the best for sure!" Thanks to Maui Sails for their outstanding support of windsurfing in Corpus Christi. Be sure to mark the Corpus Christi Classic on your must race calendar for Spring 2010!
1st Jon Jay Ernst
2nd Enes Yilmazer
3rd Chad Allen
1st Enes Yilmazer
2nd Jon Jay Ernst
3rd Guy Miller
1st Jon Jay Ernst
2nd Enes Yilmazer
3rd Guy Miller
Sportsmanship award Michael Blann