Gran Canaria Grand Slam
Day 4: The Mighty Albeau holds all the cards after a cruel twist neutralizes Williams.
Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde) has returned to his full glory, after a superb day on the water puts him in the lead. Kevin Pritchard (Starboard/Gaastra/Dakine) and Ross Williams (Tabou/Gaastra) did enough to win one round each, but a disqualification in the ultimate heat leaves Williams with work to do. Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard/North Sails) joins the push for the podium, while the pressure mounts after four harrowing rounds of slalom.
Competition entered the fourth day here at Pozo Izquierdo, and it was clear that under such extreme conditions, nothing should be taken for granted. The morning looked calm, but the soft breeze soon gave way to another gale-force showdown between the fastest windsurfers in the world.
Throughout the day, the massive Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde) seemed to obtain strength from the mounting intensity of the wind, gaining speed and confidence with every knot that Mother Earth could generate. Albeau’s punishing board-speed gave him the advantage when at times only the tip of his fin remained in the water, as he charged down broad reaches like a raging bull, to win two finals. After yesterday’s hiccup, the French slalom master is firmly in the driving seat, leading the event by a comfortable margin.
Kevin Pritchard (Starboard/Gaastra/Dakine) competed like a true champion today clinching one final from Albeau’s grasp in the ultimate round, and putting together a solid string of second and third places earlier on. These results have rocketed him up to second place overall, and in good contention for the top spot. To achieve such steady results requires an outstanding mind-set, as well as extraordinary physical skill, and Pritchard will be happy to be back to his winning-ways.
In a gut-wrenching turn of events, Ross Williams (Tabou/Gaastra) left the event site crestfallen after successive misfortunes in the afternoon. Williams had sailed excellently throughout the day, going as far as to beat Albeau in the second final; but a fall in the third round and a disqualification in the fourth round have given Albeau some breathing space, and closed things up at the head of the leader board. It will be very interesting to see how Williams reacts to this setback in the event’s remaining days.
The Moussilmani brothers recorded successive top class finishes, and all three impressed today. The fraternal Frenchmen, Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard/North Sails), Sylvain Moussilmani (Starboard/Simmer Style) and Benoit Moussilmani (Starboard/Simmer Style) all placed highly in consecutive rounds. Cyril leads the trio after top-five finishes have left him in fourth overall, where he will be hot on the tail of a podium finish.
It was a mixed day for the sport’s biggest names with Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard/Severne), Finian Maynard (RRD/NeilPryde) and Peter Volwater (F2/MauiSails) all recording varied results. Each athlete showed incredible speed and skill around the course, but in these punishing conditions even the smallest externality had a huge effect. A collision in gybes, poor starts and unlucky lulls all took their toll, showing no discrimination as even the titans of the sport fell under their unpredictable curse.
Meanwhile, improved form by Micah Buzianis (JP/NeilPryde), Jimmy Diaz (Starboard/North), Ben Van Der Steen (Exocet/Simmer Style) and Robby Swift (JP/NeilPryde) will leave them in good spirits as they look ahead to the remainder of the week for the chance to improve their standings.
During an event as intense and glorious as this, we, as spectators must take a second to empathize with the fleet as they head home under a storm cloud of mixed emotions. It was made clear today that even the most battle-hardened warriors can sometimes be pushed to their wits’ end under the immense strain and turmoil of competition.
The highs and lows of sport are the basic emotions that keep us addicted, and without them an epic event such as this would simply turn into an exhibition. Today’s action boasted all of the critical ingredients that make up a great sporting occasion – the rivalry, the entertainment, and the last minute twists, and as we look ahead to tomorrow, only time will tell how these super-human athletes will respond to new challenges.
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(after 6 rounds, and 1 discard):
1) Antoine Albeau
2) Kevin Pritchard
3) Ross Williams
4) Cyril Moussilmani
5) Bjorn Dunkerbeck
1 Phillip Köster
2 Victor Fernandez
3 Jonas Ceballos
4 Dario Ojeda
1 Daida Ruano Moreno
2 Iballa Ruano Moreno
3 Nayra Alonso
4 Junko Nagoshi