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A great Formula Experience

Photo courtesy of Michael Hildreth

Great chaos at the start of a 2005 Formula Experience World Championship heat. Racers from nine countries came to Hood River for the first Worlds ever held U.S.

By ADAM LAPIERRE

News staff writer

August 10, 2005

Two weeks of hard core, world class windsurfing action at the Hood River Event Site wrapped up on Saturday with the crowning of a new Formula Experience (FE) World Champion. Organizers from Hood River’s VMG Events are due for a much-deserved break after facilitating a week of U.S. Windsurfing Nationals followed immediately by last week’s FE World Championships.

The 2005 FE World Champion, crowned Saturday at Stonehedge Gardens, is Julien Quentel, 19, from France, followed by Vice-World Champion Jesper Orth from Australia, and third overall Bora Kozanoglu from Turkey.

This summer marks the first time the Worlds have ever been held in the United States. The event landed in Hood River after Scotia Bauer and Darren Rogers of VMG Events, backed by world-class Gorge winds and a welcoming town, submitted and won the bid to host the race.

Languages from nine different countries blew in the wind, with 65 competitors from 10 to 61 years old in Hood River from Australia, Netherlands, Norway, France, Turkey, Mexico, Peru, Canada and the U.S. It made for a truly cultural Formula Experience.

The grass was packed, on windy days, with sails from around the world, landed in Hood River to test their skills in the best wind the Gorge could muster.

And muster the Gorge did. Despite glass on Wednesday and Thursday, the wind picked back up and blew to 31 knots on the final day of racing.

“The down time let the competitors rest,” said Bauer. “We raced them pretty hard so we had no complaints during the breaks.”

Formula Experience is a version of racing that levels the playing field by gearing all competitors on essentially the same equipment, placing an emphasis on skill and endurance rather than on having the best gear.

Carolyn Boersma, Junior Coordinator for the U.S. Windsurfing team, commented; “I am excited to have the World’s here in the United States. It gives us a great chance to enjoy the racing conditions we have here in the Gorge. Our U.S. Team of 25 young sailors, ages 10-19 years old, have been looking forward to and training hard for this event since Belgium last year. With less focus on equipment, it is much easier to enjoy the sport of windsurfing knowing that winning is not about having the best equipment, but about skills.”

“I am 12 years old and this is my third time competing in windsurfing,” said U.S. competitor Jay Watermeyer. “I am having lots of fun. The best moment for me was when everyone in my fleet was so close together to the finish line. I hope more young kids will start racing… It is a lot of fun.”

“These were two fantastic windsurfing events. We had some great wind and lots of exciting races,” local windsurfing competitor Bruce Peterson commented. “The youth and junior racers were particularly inspiring. There are some excellent racers in the making. I had great time working with the kids on their equipment and their racing skills.”

The event wrapped up with an awards banquet at Stonehedge Gardens, under beautiful skies on the terrace, with competitors and their families raving about how beautiful Hood River is.

“Despite how difficult it was to run two events back to back,” Bauer said, “it was totally worth it. People loved it and everyone had a great time. That makes me proud. On site people were amazing, respectful and well behaved. We will probably host more events here because of it.

“Thank you to all of the many volunteers who came down to lend their time and talents. Thanks to sponsors: Severne Sails, Dakine, US Bank, Copper Salmon Pub, Full Sail, Glaceau Vitamin Water, Chinook, Hood River Ford, Hood River Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Summit Projects, Windermere Glenn Taylor Real Estate, Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association, Q104 Radio, High Gear, Gorge Net, Sailworks, Hood River County Visitors Council, Clif Bar, Irrinet, G-sport, Mid-Columbia Marine, Gorge Satellite, Royal Wolf Storage, Safeway, and iWindsurf.”

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