The 2008 Gran Canaria PWA Grand Slam – Day Two
Antoine Albeau shows he’s still the man to beat, winning both of day two’s slalom eliminations with a perfect run of first place finishes.
Blue sky and solid wind welcomed the start of day two’s slalom spectacular. Swinging into action shortly after midday, the heats delivered mind-boggling racing from the outset.
The dominant forces at work in the first round of race one were Micah Buzianis (JP, NeilPryde, MFC), Bjorn Dunkerbeck (North Sails, T1), Arnon Dagan (Fanatic, Gaastra) and Antoine Albeau (Starboard, NeilPryde), who all motored to the lead in their respective heats.
Entering the second round of heats, the wind dropped down and became very gusty, making the racing far more testing for the sailors. Shock came at the start of heat five, when Ben Van Der Steen (Exocet, Simmer Sails), Dunkerbeck, and Jesper Orth (Starboard, Severne) all crossed the start line early and were disqualified. In that same heat, Ross Williams (Tabou, Gaastra) adjusted to the changing conditions well, to sail a blisteringly fast race and advance into the final. Also putting the hammer down to fend off the opposition were Buzianis, Finian Maynard (RRD, NeilPryde), Jimmy Diaz (North Sails) and Thomas Larsen (Mistral, NeilPryde), who took up positions in the final as well.
In heat six, Albeau claimed victory thanks to a smooth overtaking manoeuvre to leave Benoit Moussilmani (F2, Simmer Sails) in second. Also advancing into the final were Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra), Sylvain Moussilmani (F2, Simmer Sails) and Cyril Moussilmani (Fanatic, North Sails).
The losers final was riddled with more disqualifications as Ludovic Jossin (F2, The Loft), Robby Swift (JP, NeilPryde), Patrick Diethelm (F2, North Sails) and Dagan started too early, leaving only six sailors left to battle it out. Seizing the opportunity, Steve Allen (Tabou, Gaastra) stole the lead, only to fall gybing, leaving the door open for Dunkerbeck to take the win. Van Der Steen sailed consistently to take second, Taty Frans (Starboard, North Sails) came in, in third Sylvain Moussilmani fourth and Matt Pearch (Mistral, North Sails) took fifth.
In the final, Albeau, Pritchard and Maynard broke away from the pack after the first gybe and proceeded to open up a considerable lead. The spearheading threesome jostled, but on the finish line maintained the same formation that they had had for the entire race. Albeau first, Pritchard second and Maynard third. Buzianis fronted up the second group of sailors to take fourth, and Sylvain Moussilmani claimed a solid fifth place finish.
In evermore challenging conditions, the sailors settled into the second elimination of the day. The usual suspects stamped their authority on the first round, with Maynard, Pritchard and Albeau winning their heats. Also joining them was Josh Angulo (Maui Sails) who showed he’s not one to be left out of contention when the going gets tough.
Moving into the second round, heat five saw Pritchard find his groove and cruise to victory ahead of Maynard who pressured in second, Dunkerbeck was fast in third, Williams took fourth and Cyril Moussilmani was the last person to advance into the final in fifth.
In the bottom half of the draw, Buzianis showed class when he squeezed passed Angulo to secure a podium finish in third. Dagan dug deep with a solid performance to push him into second, and the familiar face of Albeau occupied the top spot following a trademark display of textbook slalom racing.
The decreasing wind meant the competitors had to rig up bigger sails for the finals. The losers final had arguably the most testing conditions as the wind gusted anywhere between 15 to 25 knots around the inside marks.
Playing a tactical game from the word go, Van Der Steen opened up a solid lead, and showed determination to hold off sustained attacks from Peter Volwater (North Sails) and Angulo. On the finish line he was rewarded for his efforts, stealing first position from his hungry rivals. Volwater kept his peddle to the floor to take second, and Angulo charged across the finish line in third, ahead of Swift in fourth and Diethelm in fifth.
The final of race two was laden with truly spectacular sailing. Albeau showed why he’s World Champion, entering the first mark in sixth and coming out in second with a magnificent gybe through the fleet. He then proceeded to chase heat leader Maynard, who stood firm and held his lead around marks two, three and four, only succumbing to Albeau on the final reach. Eager to defend second place Maynard forced advancing Buzianis downwind and into the path of his dirty wind. His tactic payed off, only Maynard hadn’t spotted Dunkerbeck, who screamed over the finish line in the gap left upwind. When the dust had settled, the finals results read: 1st Albeau, 2nd Dunkerbeck, 3rd Maynard, 4th Buzianis and 5th Pritchard.
The end of the second race signalled the end of another highly successful day in Pozo. Tomorrow’s set to deliver even more twists and turns, so be sure to stay tuned to pwaworldtour.com to follow every stroke of the action on day three.
PWA / Andrew Buchanan