When I think of Miami, what comes to mind is cruising South Beach, hitting LIV, Mango's, the Mansion, Sunday sessions at Nikki Beach, chilling at the rooftop pool at the G Hotel; and it totally is! But if you head a little further down from the strip to a place called Virginia Keys, there's a fairly unknown tourist attraction the locals keep quiet on … one of the best flatwater race locations in Florida, right in front of the famous Fisher Island.
This year, the 2011 IFCA North American Slalom Championships took place on the Keys; 3 days of full slalom race action with myself, Wilhelm Schurmann, Mathias Pinheiro and Kurosh Kiani all flying in to compete against a swarm of sailors from the USA, Aruba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Belgium, Curacao, not to mention local Miami PWA hotshot Diego Domeniani. In total 54 sailors took part in the contest organised by the local legend, Alex Morales.
The forecast was light for the weekend but the race crew were super organised and managed to get 3 races away on the first day of racing on the Friday in some very sketchy light winds. With myself and Wilhelm on 8.6m as biggest, competing against Kurosh and Diego on 9.5m's, it was going to be an uphill battle on this first day, but Wilhelm showed just how freakishly early he is able to plane taking 2 bullets and a 3rd with me a little less consistent with two 2nd's and a 3rd and Kurosh taking a bullet, a 4th and a 2nd to keep in 2nd overall for this day.
The course was fairly long compared to PWA standards, taking us around 9-10 minutes to finish a race, which gave great opportunity for some battles between the top 5 sailors as we were jostling for positions right down to the last metres in to the finish line.
Great Cuban food served on the beach in the afternoon, washed down with some Acai berry juice and coconut milk from the sponsors made for a great finish to Day 1, despite the light winds and it was off to the Argentinian steakhouse (plenty to find in Miami) for dinner and back to North Miami Beach where most of the sailors were staying.
On the Saturday we were teased by the wind gods and sent out for 4 races. However each was abandoned nearing the finish due to the inconsistency of the wind. More Cuban food, more Acai, more steak and already it was Sunday and the final day of racing.
The forecast was just as bad as Sunday so we weren't optimistic for a good final day however just around 11am a big black cloud came overhead and brought with it a solid 15-16 knots and we were out on the racecourse. Alex likes to get as MUCH racing as possible in and in our first session we hammered 4 races back-to-back before a short break for lunch and then another 4 races back-to-back.
The stronger winds changed the standings a little as Wilhelm was able to use his i107 in the first races of the day with his 8.6m and myself on 8.6m and i127. I had a great start to this first session winning 3 out of the first 4 races of the day however we were all called over in R7 (seriously?!) so I had to settle with 2 bullets and a 2nd heading in to lunch.
The points were SUPER tight at the front with now Wilhelm, Kurosh and myself all with 2 bullets each and with the large amount of drops in IFCA slalom it could be anyone's event with still 4 races to go. The wind slowly petered out over the afternoon but we were able to get in another 4 races with Wilhelm sailing very consistent and Mathias Pinheiro making a return and taking 2 bullets to bring him closer to me in the rankings. Finally, and only by the SMALLEST of margins, Wilhelm was able to take the IFCA North American slalom title from Kurosh, with me in 3rd.
After a great ceremony on the beach and a few interviews on the live-streaming of the event, it was back in to town to see some friends and check out a lot more of this amazing beach city. This was my first time visiting Miami and for sure won't be my last. Alex and the locals took great care to make sure our trip was first class and super comfortable, even organising an impromptu photoshoot right in front of Fisher Island, where America's millionaires and celebrities come to land their helicopters in front of their mansions.
Final results for the event can be found here and if you are thinking of hitting Miami I would totally recommend getting in touch with Alex and making it to the North American Formula Windsurfing Championships in December, you won't be disappointed.
Final Results – Top 5 1. Wilhelm Schurmann (BRA-999) 2. Kurosh Kiani (DEN-13) 3. Sean O'Brien (AUS-120) 4. Mathias Pinheiro (BRA-5) 5. Diego Domeniani (USA-05
The Miami windsurf racing scene rips! Presented by windsurfingtour.com and boardheads.net, this vid showcases a recent event attended by racers from around the US and Caribbean, including superstar Micah Buzianis.
Hotel accomodation :
BEST WESTERN PLUS On the Bay Inn & Marina 1819 79th Street Cswy, North Bay Village, Florida, 33141-4215, US Special rate ( $ 89.00 ) [ special code for reservation : MIAMI WINDSURFING]Phone: 305/865-7100 Fax: 305/868-3483 online reservations click HERE
Martinez Chiropractic will be sponsoring the October Slalom Event providing Stretching and tuning for all riders.
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