After much hype and anticipation Saturday the 16th of December saw Dan Ellis win back his honour and a bit of cash too!
Windsurfing forums around the world had been hyping up the race which rapidly turned into a showdown between 2 windsurfing generations. Batting for the old guard were Craig Gertenbach (ex PBA top 10 racer and now Fanatic brand manager) and Guy Cribb (12 times UK Champion, intuition man). Gunning for the new school were the cream of UK racing, Alan “all action" Jackson (ex UK formula Champion and 11 times Scottish Champion) and Dan Ellis (5times British Champion, AWT Champion and current PWA racer). The word from some quarters was that the depth of competition experience from the old boys would be too great for the young upstarts especially with them all on the latest slalom gear.
The start point at the river mouth was bustling with excitement by midday with 50+ windsurfers and kiters getting ready in the already building South Easterly winds. By 1.30 the competitors were standing in the shorebreak waiting for the start gun. Guy Cribb had slotted himself the upwind spot knowing with his depth of experience it was the place to be. As the gun went Cribby was strait up and away as the other competitors waited for the next 30-40knot gust ready to chase him down. Cribby’s lead was short lived and after the 1st couple of gybes it turned into a 3 horse race between Craig, Jackson and Dan.
Craig took the early lead; he clearly had something to prove in front of his fellow South Africans and wasn’t going down without a fight. As the fleet headed down towards Sunset Craig and Dan were locked in the battle for the lead. Craig had opted for the Fanatic Falcon 90 while Dan took the Falcon 80, the bigger board enabled Craig to go deeper down wind while the smaller board gave Dan a speed advantage though he had to travel further. As the guy’s approached Sunset Craig disappeared from the radar, all those hours in front of a computer were showing as he pushed a little too hard and went over the handle bars. At this point it looked like Dan’s race and he clearly thought so too as he eased of the gas a little to consolidate the lead. But Dan had clearly failed to appreciate he wasn’t the only won with the taste for victory and too win would need every once of speed. They were approaching the half way point as the air was filled with the buzz of “All Action" Jackson powering into the lead. He clearly been waiting for his moment to strike and jumped into a good lead. Jackson had also opted for the Falcon 90 and 6.0 Naish Stealth and was going by far the deepest down wind.
By now Craig was back on his feet and the 3 sailors were giving it all as they headed for the last gate in front of table view. For the previous few minuets Dan had been really pushing and had reeled Jackson back in, but had sailed too far down wind and had to head up a little to make the gate. This led to one of the most exciting finishes in windsurfing history as they pushed through the surf for the finish. Dan Flew over the last wave just in front of Jackson who up until that point was still in the lead. Dan hit the beach mealy a meter in front and not waiting to risk the whippet Scotsman running past him at the line ditched his kit and ran too the finish pole arms raised and clearly chuffed with his victory. Craig followed a minute or so later and Cribby after that, both of whom showing there was still fight left in the old dogs, and with a bit more training could still mix it up with the worlds best.
It was a great day which left of 50 wind lovers with big grins. The whole success goes down to Waggy from Bay Sports who put it all together and put up the 4000 ran prize purse. Next year the race will be bigger and better and a must for anyone in the area. The top guy’s were on Race gear but most just did it on there wave boards including the 1st Junior the UK’s Richi Jones on his Tushingham Rock and Starboard Evo 70. It was a clean sweep by Fanatic with a 123 and Naish Sails took the 1st two spots and the UK showed it still rules the ocean waves!
For some more pix and a map of the course check out Dan Ellis’s website http://www.Dan-Ellis.com . To find out about other SA races check out www.WindsurfingAfrica.org and to see all the pix including a great jump on a speed board go to http://www.Capesessions.com