Thursday, March 12, 2009

Impressions from WISSA 2009

By Klaus Faisst - Canada

The winds during our 2009 World Championships in Riga, Latvia were only light to moderate, hence, no speed records were broken on Lake Kisezers. However, just about all attendance records were broken, including:

111-registered competitors (most ever)
14 -countries (most ever)
57 -Sailboards (most ever)
18 -Wings (most ever)
 and best of all:
14 -Women (most ever)
20 -Youth (most ever)

Needless to say, the large number of competitors presented quite a challenge for the organizers and race masters, but they did a superb job and indeed deserve special praise. Evaluation of race results was timely, efficient and accurate. Yes, there were a few protests, but they were managed in a firm and friendly way.

Race conditions on Lake Kisezers were tailor-made for blades: Fairly smooth ice, covered with about 5 cm of old snow on the first race day. Another 5 cm of new snow accumulated during the rest of the week. Sled sailors running on blades, and wing sailors running on skates were able to cut through the layer of snow and could take advantage of significant lower friction between steel on ice (as compared to skis on snow). Of course, this is one of the distinct challenges in our sport – having the right equipment for the prevailing surface conditions. The race results and pictures (posted on tell more of the story.

The blade/ski comparison does not apply to kite sailors. They were all running on skis, that are getting longer and stiffer every year. Their kites too seem to be getting bigger. As usual, there was enough wind for the kites; they managed 12 course races plus the marathon.

The introduction of short-track slalom racing on a snow-free ice surface turned out to be an exiting new addition both for competitors and spectators. This is definitely a spectator sport, full of speed and action on a relatively small area and hence, also well suited for TV cameras. Watch out for short-track slalom racing as a demo in a future winter Olympics. The Latvian Hiberna sleds look particularly graceful on their jibes. The Wing class also had (for the first time) their own slalom races, using the same course as the Hiberna sleds. It was truly exiting… lots of action in short succession without any waiting between heats. I could not tell who was faster around the course – Wings or Hiberna sleds. Perhaps there will be a chance in one of our next WISSA events to find out.

Most of the young people were keen windsurfers from Poland, coached by Witold Nerling.

Over the years, Mr. Nerling has helped many young Summer and Winter sailors achieve top international rankings. In recognition of his exemplary work Witold was presented with the prestigious Victor Hendriksson Trophy at the closing ceremony. The trophy for Best Design went to Ronald Verhaegen of Belgian for his ice skate board. Edmunds Brencis, the official event photographer, took a “must see” action shot with Ronald being carried away by his Wing sail. Check out under 17-feb-2009.

The organizers in Latvia deserve our utmost appreciation for making WISSA 2009 so worthwhile, successful and enjoyable. They have taken care of everything, including a highly interesting sightseeing tour of Riga on “windless Thursday”. Congratulations and thank you!

What’s next? Well, at our annual WISSA-meeting Dominique Robichaud (organizer of WISSA 2008) presented a firm proposal from the City of Saguenay, Quebec, Canada for our 30th Jubilee next year. And there is more good news: Our friend Feodor Gurvits tabled a proposal for WISSA-2011 in Lappeenranta, Finland.

Please help to spread the good new about WISSA. We are very much alive and thriving!

See you next year here in Canada.


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