Fuerteventura Grand Slam
Day 1: Simply unstoppable: Albeau opens with yet another incredible performance.
Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde) has opened the Fuerteventura Grand Slam in style, smashing his way to two consecutive victories, and leaving his competitors for dead. Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard/Severne) snatched the final victory of the day, whilst Finian Maynard (RRD/NeilPryde) and Micah Buzianis (JP/NeilPryde) continually dominated at the head of the fleet.
It was a glorious day at Sotavento Beach, where a full tide lapped at the shores of the turquoise lagoon. A cross-offshore trade wind build throughout the day, peaking at 35 knots, allowing the slalom elite to use their fastest equipment and put on an incredible display.
There were three full rounds of slalom today, each one containing a breathtaking mix of action, excitement and drama.
Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde) was outstanding once again, showing that he will stop at nothing to take home the World Title this year. It was a great day in the office for the defending champion, who took two great victories early on. Albeau was made to fight for fourth place in the last final, where an epic display of speed took him from eighth to fourth in just two reaches. He finished the day on top of the leader board by a comfortable margin.
Finian Maynard (RRD/NeilPryde) and Micah Buzianis (JP/NeilPryde) looked very strong this afternoon, finishing up just one point apart, and with everything to play for. Both sailors were focused, consistent and incredibly fast, and they will be pleased by their performances today.
Mistakes crept in early as competitors pushed themselves beyond their limits to try and gain any advantage that they could. PMS disqualifications were numerous, and big names fell early: Ross Williams (Tabou/Gaastra), Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Exocet/MauiSails), Marco Begalli (Starboard), Cedric Bordes (Tabou/Gaastra) and Antoine Questel (Mistral/The Loft) were all out of the first round without even sailing a heat.
The errors didn’t stop there; Peter Volwater (F2/MauiSails), Ben Van der Steen (Exocet/Simmer Style) and Alberto Menegatti (Starboard/Simmer Style) were all forced into the losers’ final of the third round after the same critical blunder. However these three did what they could, sharing the top spots of their next heat; Volwater showing his great talent once again, using super-fast technique as his main weapon.
There was also an edge of drama to spice things up. Josh Angulo (Angulo/MauiSails/Dakine) had sailed excellently all day, making it through to consecutive finals and showing that he is a force to be reckoned with in these conditions. In the second final, Angulo was leading by a clear margin, until he catapulted over the finish line in a painful twist of misfortune. This left the path clear for Albeau to take the lead, leaving Angulo enraged, in the loser’s final, and lower in the rankings that he may have otherwise deserved.
Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard/Severne) suffered grave disaster when a similar wipe-out on the last reach during the second final sent the legend through his sail. Dunkerbeck sailed brilliantly to come back from that, and took the victory in the last final of the day. Windsurfing’s greatest champion has looked on top form today, and he will be a major contender for this event’s title.
Jimmy Diaz (Starboard/North Sails), Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard/North), Arnon Dagan (Tabou/Gaastra) and Patrick Diethelm (F2/North Sails) were excellent today, showing that they have what it takes to be a major threat to the top spots. No doubt these great competitors will continue to push for positions in the elite winner’s finals.
The award for Sailor of the Day falls to Tine Slabe (RRD), who sailed brilliantly through the early rounds. In his best performance so far, the charming Slabe has laid the foundations for his best World Tour result to date.
Tomorrow’s action kicks off at 10.30, with the first possible start at 11.00. The forecast is for increasing winds throughout the week, which will set us up for yet another epic contest.
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