Fuerteventura Grand Slam
Day 2: Pritchard and Williams seize the opportunity to catch the great Albeau.
Ross Williams (Tabou/Gaastra) and Kevin Pritchard (Starboard/Gaastra/Dakine ) have shared glory alongside Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde) as the winners of today’s three rounds. In an outstanding day of competition, the first discard of the event has put pressure on Finian Maynard (RRD/NeilPryde) who clings on to second place.
A battering 40-knot wind churned the water white this morning, as the sailors prepared to push their limits over a dramatic new course. Speed was the focus of the day, with the fastest racers enjoying the opportunity to prove their talents. The ‘speed-leg’ that was introduced in the second round bought the action meters away from the amazed spectators, as the world’s elite went head to heat in a remarkable day of action.
A familiar scene welcomed the crowd, as Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde) opened the day’s contest with a convincing victory. However, Albeau’s skill was tested, after two gybe mark collisions cost him a spot in the second round final, and a bad start pushed him to a low position in the third round.
With Albeau out of the second round’s final, Ross Williams (Tabou/Gaastra) took his chance for victory, and sailed excellently to claim his first win here in Fuerteventura. When Williams is on form, there are few competitors who can match his blistering pace and great technique, and so we hope he continues to challenge throughout the week.
Gaastra teammate Kevin Pritchard (Starboard/Gaastra/Dakine) once again proved that he is one of the most serious contenders for this event, as well as the World Title. The ex-World Champion was outstanding in the ultimate heat of the day, holding off challenges from the best sailors in the world with apparent ease. Pritchard now sits at third overall in this event, and after such a great performance takes our coveted ‘Sailor of the Day’ award.
Finian Maynard (RRD/NeilPryde) clearly demonstrated his ability to dominate in high-wind racing, making the most of the new course layout. Qualifying to all three finals today, he ends up this afternoon in second overall, but he will be aware that the top five are closing in quickly.
There were some classic battles for the finish today, and more often that not, they included the determined Micah Buzianis (JP/NeilPryde), Patrick Diethelm (F2/North Sails), Sylvain Moussilmani (Starboard/Simmer Style) and Benoit Moussilmani (Starboard/Simmer Style). All four of these athletes were excellent today, continually fighting through the ranks. Benoit Moussilmani, in particular, impressed with his outstanding final results. Arnon Dagan (Tabou/Gaastra) has also maintained his good form, although he was unlucky to destroy his equipment in a catapult during the final heat of the day.
An afternoon highlight for the crowd came in the form of a spectacular crash by Robby Swift (JP/NeilPryde), who gave everything in a battle with Jesper Orth (Starboard/Severne) in the second semi final of round 5. Swift and Orth were neck and neck, when a chop pushed Swift’s board out of the water, causing him to crash at full speed, his body flung high into the air and hard into his equipment. Such was the force in the crash that Albeau and Buzianis sailed to him immediately to check on their teammate.
Yesterday’s sailor of the day, Tine Slabe (RRD), made history this afternoon, when he became the first Slovenian in Windsurfing’s history to make it through to a slalom winners’ final. Cedric Bordes (Tabou/Gaastra) Gabriel Browne (Starboard/MauiSails) and Daniel Aeberli (F2/Severne) had an impressive day on the water that will see them set their sights high for the remainder of the event.
The wind is due to drop off by a couple of knots tomorrow, and after today’s results we now have a super tight competition on our hands. Whilst Albeau still holds a considerable lead, tomorrow’s racing will bring a second discard in to play, which could have a dramatic effect on the overall results.
Make sure you tune in to www.pwaworldtour.com tomorrow for more live action, incredible photos and action-packed video footage from on of the most spectacular events on the planet.