The 2008 Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam – Event Summary
Ten days of intense high wind competition sees a World Champion crowned, one of racings biggest players drop out of contention through injury, and a shake up of both the race and freestyle ranks after a historic showdown on Sotavento beach.
Taking centre stage for the first five days of competition, the 50 strong men’s and 15 strong women’s race fleets hit the water to kick start the final event on the Canaries leg of the PWA World Tour.
Hosting the action was the world famous Rene Egli Windsurfing Centre, which sits in prime position just a stones throw from the waters edge. The idyllic location, with its white sands and azure backdrop proudly boasts a wealth of heritage, being one of the most enduring fixtures on the PWA world tour, with a history of epic contests stretching back over more than twenty years.
Men’s Race 1: Christening the racecourse, competition launched into action. The final of competitions first race was dominated by Antoine Albeau (Starboard, NeilPryde), who needed little more than the first reach before he sat untouched at the front of the fleet. In second place, Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (NeilPryde) pieced together a solid heat to fend off Micah Buzianis (JP, NeilPryde, MFC), who was hot on his heels round marks three and four. A blistering final blast to the finish rewarded him with second, close behind Buzianis took third.
Women’s Races 1 & 2: The women’s fleet completed two races over the course of the first afternoon, which witnessed a return to form for Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou, The Loft). The legendary French racer looked like she may have dropped off the pace, following a disappointing 7th place overall at the last women’s slalom event in the Costa Brava.
Not one to be underestimated, Ghibaudo dominated both races to claim back to back first place finishes. In a similar style, Lee Korzitz, racing in her second ever PWA slalom event, managed to muscle her way to finish second in both races. A surprise result was Karin Jaggi (F2, North Sails), who kicked off the event with a shocking last place in the first race, and fifth in the second.
Men’s Race 2: Another display of Albeau’s dominance saw him steal the show and walk away with his second successive race win. Buzianis and Dunkerbeck (North Sails, T1) mopped up second and third respectively. Maynard (RRD, NeilPryde) and Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra, Dakine, MFC) struggled with the conditions, finishing ninth and tenth respectively.
Women’s Race 3: Ghibaudo continued her run of dominance to cruise to her third race win in a row. Chasing her down in second was Jaggi, who’d clearly put her shaky performance behind her. Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard, NeilPryde) also sailed a solid heat to award her with her highest place finish so far, in third.
Moving down the ranks, Lee Korzitz failed to make the final, and then also failed to finish in the losers final, meaning she’d have to make do with fifteenth place.
Race 3: Volwater, Pritchard and Allen (Tabou, Gaastra) stumbled in the semi finals, when they failed to make the race final. Taking their positions in the losers final, Pritchard recovered to take the win. Volwater also found his form to finish in second, and Dan Ellis (Fanatic, MauiSails) climbed the ranks in third. Allen was left down in fifth.
In the final, the top three positions remained unchanged from the previous race, with Albeau looking comfortable in first, Buzianis rewarded for his consistency in second, and Dunkerbeck sneaked across the finish line to pip Sylvain Moussilmani (F2, Simmer) to third place.
Women’s Race 4: Korzitz stuttered again, having successfully made it through to the final, she proceeded to false start, as did rival Offringa. The pair had to settle for joint last place.
Improving, Jaggi turned up the heat to sail to victory in the final. Not far behind, Ghibaudo added a second to her near perfect run of results, and unsung racing talent Nagoshi (Simmer) nailed a third place finish.
Men’s Race 4: In the winners final, Pritchard screamed out the gates to command the race around the four gybe marks. Albeau made it his business to chase down the speeding American, but Pritchard had no intention of letting his lead slip. On the finish line, Albeau had to settle for a rare second place, leaving Pritchard to take the victory, and a massive psychological boost after he failed to make the previous two race finals. Maynard also bounced back to finish in third place, bumping him up the ranks.
Benoit Moussilmani (F2, Simmer) took top honors in the losers final, followed by Volwater (North) in second, who’d done just enough to stay in the top ten overall.
Women’s Race 5: After qualifying for the final, Jaggi seemed to drop off the boil with a disappointing seventh place finish. Super consistent Ghibaudo continued her run of top notch results, adding another first to her impressive hoard, and Iballa Moreno (North Sails) showed up on the radar to storm home in second.
Men’s Race 5: In a fresh 15-30 knot wind, the first round of heats followed a relatively predictable path to the semi finals. Moving into the race final, all the big names stood poised to do battle.
Accelerating off the start line, Maynard showed why he’s one of the fastest men in windsurfing, “I had a real good start, the water was nice and flat and the wind wasn’t gusting too much. My 7.8m seemed to be the right choice, and after taking the lead on the first reach, I held onto it right to the finish line”. This marked Maynard’s first victory of the event so far. Behind him, Kevin Pritchard in second, and Benoit Moussilmani in third. Surprisingly, Albeau never threatened the podium positions, and ended up taking an uncharacteristic sixth place.
Race 6: Ludovic Jossin (F2, The Loft), Martin Ten Hoeve (Fanatic) and Benoit Moussilmani didn’t help their causes by false starting in the opening round. Jamie Hawkins (Exocet, NeilPryde) also fell victim to his own over enthusiasm, false starting in the subsequent semi final.
Moving into the final, Albeau tightened his grip, but not enough to stop Dunkerbeck from passing him, and sailing to his first race win. Albeau had to settle for second place, having never threatened Dunkerbeck, and Allen found his form to bag a solid third position finish.
Women’s Races 6 & 7: Ghibaudo was untouchable in her familiar first position, claiming two more back to back victories in races 6 and 7. Offringa and Jaggi also dialed into the conditions. Jaggi’s experience rewarded her with a third and a second, and a similarly impressive performance handed Offringa a commendable second and fourth.
Ex RSX racer, Korzitz also continued her run of solid results, finishing third in race seven.
Men’s Race 7: With the entire fleet hitting the water, fifty one racers jostled for position before a mammoth rabbit start to christen the first full fleet race of the event. The spectacular format tests competitors’ physical endurance, as well as tactical know how. In this case, the man with both qualities was seasoned victor, Albeau.
Breaking away and aided by clean wind, Albeau consolidated his lead as the race progressed, and ultimately won in style by a whopping margin. Fighting their own battle, Buzianis, Pritchard and Dunkerbeck were never far apart.
Eventually separating them, the final race section of tighter gybes rewarded Pritchard with second place, Dunkerbeck third, and Buzianis fourth.
Men’s Race 8: The second full fleet race turned things on their head. Poor starts by many of the big names saw Albeau finish in 21st, Pritchard, 16th, Dunkerbeck 17th, and Maynard failed to complete the race after sustaining an injury from a catapult on the start line.
Ever consistent, Buzianis remained deadly focused, and was rewarded with first position, with opportunists Volwater and Cyril Moussilmani (Fanatic, North Sails) padding out the podium in second and third respectively.
Women’s Races 8 & 9: Also sailing in the full fleet format, Jaggi returned to dominate the first of the races, weaving her way around the gybes to emerge the conclusive victor. Joining her on the podium, Moreno dug deep to hold off Ghibaudo and take second. Ghibaudo made do with a respectable third place.
The final race of the day was lead by Jaggi, who looked set to dominate proceedings until she fell gybing around the penultimate mark. Seizing the opportunity, Ghibaudo slipped past to claim her seventh race win. Moreno mimicked her previous race with another second, with Nagoshi close behind in third. Jaggi paid a hefty price for her fall, eventually finishing in fourth.
Men’s Race 9: Hitting the water to add a ninth race to their tally, signs of nerves were all too apparent, when four out of the twelve competitors in the losers’ final false stared.
Taking the reigns of the depleted heat, Josh Angulo (MauiSails, Dakine) clawed his way into first position, meaning he’d walk away with a 13th place finish for that race.
In the winners final, which would decide the top twelve positions of the race, Bjorn Dunkerbeck emerged as the man to beat. He fended off advances from event leader Antoine Albeau to take his second race win of the event so far. Albeau finished in second, and Ben Van Der Steen looked dangerous in third.
Women’s Race 10: Karin Jaggi and Valerie Ghibaudo proved to be impossible to shake from first and second place. The pair showed they were a cut above the rest, but almost equally matched.
Sailing amazingly, Ghibaudo led for the duration of the race, but Jaggi was never far behind. Most impressively, the pair were several hundred meters ahead of the nearest challenger, Lee Korzitz. At the finish line, Ghibaudo claimed the win, Jaggi second, and Korzitz third.
Men’s Race 10: There was upset in race ten, when Micah Buzianis sustained an unfortunate injury in the second semi final. It turned out that he’d broken his leg, and would no longer be able to compete in the event, crippling news considering he sat in second place, and was pressuring Albeau for first.
Van Der Steen was on fire in the race final. Untouchable pace down the first reach combined with a perfect gybe saw him storm to the front of the fleet. He remained there for the duration of the heat to take home his first race win of the event. Behind him, Cyril Moussilmani managed to hold of compatriot Albeau, to take second, Albeau looked consistent, but no longer dominant in third.
Women’s Race 11: In a carbon copy of race 10, Jaggi and Ghibaudo exploded out the start gates to open up a huge lead. As before, Ghibaudo lead around the final gybe, but Jaggi summoned an awe inspiring last blast to the finish to steal victory from under Ghibaudo’s nose. Again, Korzitz fronted the chasing pack, in third.
Men’s Race 11: A return to dominant form for Albeau saw him hold off Dunkerbeck to further reinforce his event lead with another race victory. Dunkerbeck hung onto second, placing him in third place overall on the penultimate day of racing, and Pritchard sailed well to take third in the race final.
Women’s Race Race 12: A spirited performance from Offringa saw the famed freestyler hold her nerve in the building wind to reap third position. The result added to a fourth and a fifth in the two previous races, a remarkably consistent performance from the young Aruban local.
The story of the race was once again the Jaggi vs. Ghibaudo showdown. Ghibaudo had Jaggi around the corners, meaning once again it would be a last reach drag race to decide who’d walk away with the race win. Inseparable until the last 20 meters, Jaggi showed defiance to steal another victory from Ghibaudo.
Men’s Race 12: A late flourish from Benoit Moussilmani saw him sail home to victory in the final, awarding him his first ever race win in PWA competition. Behind him, Van Der Steen continued his assault on the podium in second, and Dunkerbeck added a third to his bag of results. Antoine Albeau took a conservative tenth place, handing him the guaranteed event title, with races still to go.
Women’s Races 13 & 14: Valerie Ghibaudo fought to claim second place in the first race, doing enough to seal her the event victory. Karin Jaggi added a fifth race win to her impressive tally, making her untouchable in second place overall, and Sarah Hebert (Starboard, Naish) cruised across the line in third, edging her up the overall scores.
Moving into the final race of the event for the women, Nagoshi and Korzitz were locked in a battle for third position overall. Aiding Nagoshi, Korzitz took a fall rounding the third mark, meaning Nagoshi just had to stay upright and hold onto her third place in the race to beat Korzitz in the overall rankings.
On the finish line, Ghibaudo won in true style, with Jaggi in second, and Nagoshi holding on to take third. Nagoshi’s podium finish is all the more impressive considering she was competing on borrowed equipment right the way down to her fin bolts.
Women’s Slalom Event Winner, Valerie Ghibaudo: “For my sponsors, I really wanted to do well here, so I feel superb. It’s fantastic to come first. I had some really close runs with Karin Jaggi, and conditions were really difficult all five days, so it hasn’t been easy. It’s still sinking in that I’ve actually won, I just hope I can sail like this at the next event in Alaçati!”
Men’s Race 13 & 14: Albeau, the consummate professional, continued to dig his teeth in and sail to yet another victory in race 13, when he could have sat back and reveled in his glory. And, crucially, Dunkerbeck, who finished in sixth, had done enough to cement himself into second position overall for the event.
Meanwhile, more solid sailing from Van Der Steen earned him second, and Volwater found his feet in third. Van Der Steen’s result meant he was in contention for third place overall, but rivals Williams and Pritchard had also done enough to be knocking on the podium’s door. Therefore, positions three, four, and five would all be settled in the event’s final nail biting race.
First to falter in the pressure cooker like final race was Williams, who failed to make the winners final, and subsequently took 5th position overall for the event. Entering the winners’ final, Albeau threw caution to the wind and disappeared down the first reach after a perfectly timed start. He wouldn’t be seen again, winning the last race of the event in style with a mammoth jump over the finish line.
A crash from Angulo caused havoc at mark two, allowing Pritchard to sneak through the pack and sail into third behind Volwater, it was enough for him to claim third place overall. Van Der Steen also took a fall ending in ninth, and thus fourth place overall.
Men’s Slalom Event Winner, Antoine Albeau: “I started the event really well with three firsts, but I was taking a lot of risks to win. After that I dropped down a bit to stay safe. I didn’t want to go over early or make stupid mistakes, just be consistent. I think I did a good job, and today after the first race I knew I’d won the event, so I went full on. I could have stopped, but I just had to win those last two races, and I did. I’m really happy now!”
The 2008 PWA Fuerteventura Grand Slam Men’s Slalom Results:
1st Antoine Albeau
2nd Bjorn Dunkerbeck
3rd Kevin Pritchard
4th Ben Van Der Steen
5th Ross Williams
The Season as it stands:
1st Antoine Albeau
2nd Kevin Pritchard
3rd Bjorn Dunkerbeck
4th Cyril Moussilmani
5th Peter Volwater
The 2008 PWA Fuerteventura Grand Slam Women’s Slalom Results:
1st Valerie Ghibaudo
2nd Karin Jaggi
3rd Junk Nagoshi
4th Lee Korzitz
5th Sarah-Quita Offringa
The Season as it stands:
1st Karin Jaggi
2nd Lee Korzitz
3rd = Iballa Moreno
3rd = Valerie Ghibaudo
5th Alice Arutkin
Moving over to freestyle for the second half of event, and the Fuerteventura wind machine went into overdrive, churning out 35 knots of breeze and a building groundswell.
Men’s Elimination 1: A single elimination final of Marcilio Browne (Mistral, Gaastra) versus Jose Estredo (Fanatic, North, MFC) saw Browne defeat Estredo in a 4-1 judging decision, meaning he’d have to wait for his challenger to arrive in the double elimination. In the losers final, Normen Günzlein (JP, NeilPryde) challenged Tonky Frans (F2, Gaastra), but to no avail, as Frans defeated his German Counter part.
Moving into the double elimination, and it was Ricardo Campello (JP, NeilPryde, MFC) who mounted the most sizable attack on Browne. He advanced through six heats, toppling the likes of Thode (Starboard, Gaastra), Tonky Frans, Estredo and Günzlein before he finally had his chance at Browne.
Starting well, Browne looked like he’d hold off Campello, but some costly errors towards the end of the heat allowed the Venezuelan to edge ahead, meaning the pair would have to go head to head one last time to finally settle the scores.
Back on form, Browne launched a full scale attack which included a crazy air funnel, a huge ponch, and a monumental ten foot high air flaka. Campello rose to the challenge with a routine that included a misty flip and a pushloop. It was always going to be a close call, but Browne’s technical and consistent run ultimately earned him the double elimination victory.
Women’s Elimination 1: Story of the single elimination was Yoli De Brendt (Fanatic, North), who was on biblically good form. The Venezuelan underdog slayed Nina Tjernberg (F2, North), heavy weight freestyler Daida Moreno (North), and Junko Nagoshi before finally falling to Sarah-Quita Offringa in the final.
With eye’s firmly set on Offringa, who sat in waiting after winning the single elimination, Daida Moreno mounted a sustained attack from the depths of the elimination ladder to within touching distance of the young Aruban.
Defeating Anna Johansson (Naish, Naish), Nayra Alonso (Fanatic, Severne), Laura Treboux (Fanatic, North), sister Iballa and Junko Nagoshi, Daida only had to beat Yolanda De Brendt before she had a shot at Offringa’s first position stronghold.
Unfortunately for Moreno, De Brendt stood her ground, meaning the final would be a rematch of the single elimination final. The subsequent brawl raised the bar of women’s freestyle to a whole new level. Both sailors went off, but decisive blow would come when Offringa executed a massive air flaka. De Brendt had no reply to the epic move, granting Offringa the victory, and the first double elimination as hers.
Men’s Elimination 2: The single elimination was quickly narrowed down to a semi final of Estredo versus Browne and Tonky Frans versus Campello.
Advancing into the final, Browne defeated Estredo to take the victory, leaving Estredo in second. And in the losers final, Campello beat Frans to take third, with Frans in fourth.
In the men’s double, Otaegui (JP, NeilPryde, MFC) made the most impressive comeback, rising through four heats before he finally fell at the hands of Thode, who’s run was short lived, as he then departed courtesy of Tonky Frans.
Frans went on to battle with Campello, and despite landing a super clean air chachoo, couldn’t match Campello’s crazy shuvit spock and pushloop. With the stakes getting higher, Campello advanced to duel with Estredo. The awesome heat saw air flakas from both sailors, a backloop from Campello, and a one handed air funnel from Estredo. It was a tough call to make, but Campello was ultimately rewarded with victory, meaning he’d go on to battle with Browne in a repeat of the first double elimination.
Dropping off the boil, Browne made the mistake of giving Campello a bit of breathing space. Campello seized the opportunity, landing a shuvit spock, and an air funnel to defeat Browne.
To take the elimination, Campello then had to overthrow Browne one more time. Both sailors hit the water again, but this time it was Campello who had slacked off.
Browne punished the Venezuelan’s mistakes, landing an air funnel, and a before unheard of, air cana brava. The super slick display was enough to stop Campello in his tracks, and award Browne his second successive elimination victory, and the overall event win.
Women’s Elimination 2: In the women’s fleet, a Daida Moreno versus De Brendt, and Nagoshi versus Offringa semi final, saw Offringa and Daida Moreno emerge victorious, meaning they advanced into the final. The subsequent brawl was won by Offringa, with Moreno taking second, De Brendt third, and Nagoshi fourth.
In the double elimination, Treboux bulldozed her way through the opposition, leaving victims Iballa Moreno, Alonso, Nagoshi and De Brendt in the wake of her resurgence.
Her stumbling block would come when she met Daida Moreno. A barrage of loops, and fully planning sliding moves condemned Treboux to third place, while the ever-determined Moreno advanced to take on the might of Offringa in the final.
The pair were evenly matched, Offringa landed a flaka and a funnel, to Moreno’s reply of a one footed forward, and a ponch. Right into the final minute of the heat it looked almost impossible to call a winner, then Offringa nailed an air flaka, and a flaka diablo. The moves were a killer blow for Moreno, who’d let victory escape her grasp. Winning, Offringa claimed her second elimination win of the event so far. The victory had huge implication, handing her not only the event win, but also the 2008 Freestyle World Title.
Men’s Final Elimination: High caliber moves provided an action packed backdrop to the final elimination of the competition. Advancing through to the semi finals, Estredo challenged Campello, and Frans squared up against Browne in a clash that would decide who would advance into the final.
After a tense few minutes in the judging tower, the winners were announced. Browne and Estredo ploughed on through to the final, leaving Campello and Frans to duel in the losers final.
Fighting for third position, Campello threw everything he had at Frans, including a backloop, and a pushloop. Calm and collected, Frans bided his time and was eventually rewarded with a steep ramp to throw a towering air chachoo. This, combined with some polished sliding moves on the inside, was eventually enough to defeat Campello, who’d lost his rhythm from previous days.
In the winners final, Browne sailed a solid heat, but had nothing on rival Estredo. More determined that ever, the Venezuelan threw down the biggest, and without a doubt, the best air chachoo seen all competition. Also landing a spock 900, a sky-high air flaka and a pushloop, Browne was eventually condemned to second position.
In the double elimination, Thode looked threatening after advancing through 4 tough heats, but was stopped by a devastating performance from Tonky Frans, leaving Frans to challenge Browne, just one step away from the final.
The heat was off the scale, as the fiercely competitive duo threw all they had at each other. Frans’ downfall would come when his concentration lapsed, and he left his score sheet one move short. The error was punished by Browne, who progressed to line up against Estredo in the decisive last heat of the day.
Final time, and Estredo drew the first blood with a towering air flaka, accompanied by a colossal air chachoo. Browne didn’t let Estredo’s aerial antics distract him, throwing down an assertive mix of an air chachoo, a misty flip, and a burner. Defiant Estredo shunned Brown’s attack, nailing a perfectly rotated air funnel 540, alongside a mix of freestyles most explosive moves.
A spate of falls from Browne towards the end of the heat proved to be critical. All too aware of the implications, Browne left the water with his head down. Estredo knew he’d done enough to win the heat, and claim second place overall for the event. Despite Browne’s loss, he still topped the event standings, and sits second overall for the 2008 season.
Women’s Final Elimination: Offringa was on her usual dominant form, advancing all the way to the final, alongside Treboux. Continuing her assault by landing an air flaka and a ponch, Treboux had to dig deep to reply, but some costly crashes haunted her score sheet, meaning she’d have to make do with second in the single elimination.
In the double elimination, Daida Moreno climbed the ranks, defeating Treboux to eventually face Offringa in the final. Treboux’s performance had earned her third place for the event, and sneaked her ahead of rival Nagoshi in the 2008 ranking, to a podium finish in third.
Regardless of the outcome in the final, Offringa and Moreno had done enough to secure first and second position respectively, meaning the ensuing bout was going to be a battle of pride alone.
Hungry to continue her unbeaten run, Offringa launched into her usual assault of funnels, switch chachoos and air flakas. Opting for higher aerial moves, Moreno threw forward loops on both tacks, and her usual slick goiter on the inside. Despite a spirited performance from Moreno, she failed to match Offringa’s depth and technicality.
Maintaining her perfect run of first place finishes; Offringa added one more victory to her tally, extending her unprecedented run for the 2008 season, and making her World Title taste that much sweeter.
The 2008 Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam Men’s Freestyle Results:
1st Marcilio Browne
2nd Jose Estredo
3rd Ricardo Campello
4th Tonky Frans
5th Kiri Thode
Overall Men’s Results for the 2008 season so far:
1st Jose Estredo
2nd Marcilio Browne
3rd Ricardo Campello
4th Tonky Frans
5th Kiri Thode
The 2008 Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam Women’s Freestyle Results:
1st Sarah-Quita Offringa
2nd Daida Moreno
3rd Laure Treboux
4th Yolanda De Brendt
5th Junko Nagoshi
Overall Women’s Freestyle Results:
1st Sarah-Quita Offringa
2nd Daida Moreno
3rd Laure Treboux
4th Junko Nagoshi
5th Iballa Moreno
The tour now heads back to the Mediterranean for a slalom extravaganza in Alaçati, Turkey from August 11th through 16th.
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