Fuerteventura Grand Slam
The fifth and final day of slalom competition started off in a very similar fashion to day four, with the breeze teasing the competitors throughout the morning resulting in racing being on hold for much of the day.
As temperatures soared to new levels so did the tension between the competitors. And, as the day progressed it became apparent that only one race would be completed, leaving the 2009 world champion, Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde) fighting for the crown with the 2009 world rankings runner up, Finian Maynard (RRD, Gaastra).
Albeau Holds All The Aces
Maynard looked nervous, with plenty of work still to do, whereas Albeau was playing it cool, and trying to keep calm, confident with the knowledge that all he had to do was finish higher than 7th. However, with the mistakes he made the previous day he knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park.
By mid afternoon the wind began to build, and race director, Juan Antonio Aragon made the call to start race ten. All eyes were on Albeau and Maynard to see if they’d progress through their early heats. And, as expected, there was never a moment when either looked likely to fail, with both sailors going through to the finals with ease.
At this point, Maynard had to pull something special out of the bag. He somehow had to win the final race and ensure Albeau was almost last – a tough manoeuvre to pull off in anyone’s book! Maynard pushed hard right at the start, but milliseconds later the horn went again, signalling a recall for the final eight. Unfortunately for Maynard he’d put himself out of the race, and inadvertently handed the crown to Albeau on a plate.
“I had a great start to this event except for my crash. So with two days to go I was in the lead by a considerable margin. But, yesterday I sailed really badly, going out in the second round which meant it was still possible for Finian to claim first place. This put a bit more pressure on me today, and added to that, my half of the elimination was really tough. The semi-final on my side of the draw could easily have been a winner’s final with guys like Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne, Mystic), Micah Buzianis (JP, NeilPryde), and Ross Williams (Tabou, Gaastra) fighting it out with me.
I felt quite tense during the final because there was a huge battle to get the best lane at the start. Luckily for me, Finian hit the line too early and was therefore disqualified from the heat. After that I was a little bit more relaxed. During the re-run of the start Bjorn came over to me and began to push a little, but I just hung back a bit because I just had to finish the race to win overall, so my start wasn’t the best. I finished third which was OK, but more importantly I’d won the event.
I’m absolutely ecstatic to have won this special 25th Anniversary event in Fuerteventura, and I’m looking forward to the next round of slalom in Turkey. I’ve got three good results now so I have a small advantage over both Bjorn and Finian in the rankings, but I haven’t won the title just yet. I’ll continue to sail my best and we’ll see what happens in Alacati.”
Dunkerbeck Seizes The Day
Despite the fact that Albeau had already won the crown, and fully in the knowledge that he couldn’t climb any higher, former world champion, Bjorn Dunkerbeck stole the final show.
Throughout his heats he’d been sailing with tremendous speed, and he carried this all the way through to the final. His team-mate Steve Allen (Starboard, Severne) just nipped inside him on the very first gybe, but it didn’t take long before he motored past the Australian to claim the lead. And, from that moment on not one person could catch him. It may not have been enough to pull him up the event standings, but it certainly leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of those surrounding him, and an insight of things to come.
Stand Out Sailors
The young French racer Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic, North) once again proved to the world that he’s a champion in the making. After winning his first heat, he was on a roll, but was unlucky not to qualify for the winner’s final. However, he was in the same tough draw that Albeau described as a final, so missing out by one place in a star studded fleet was a fantastic result.
With two straight wins until he entered the same tough semi final as Albeau and Mortefon, Alberto Menegatti (Starboard, Simmer) was absolutely on fire. Despite his hiccup, he returned to form in the loser’s final taking the scalp off seasoned pros to finish on a high.
Results After Ten Races
1st Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde) 15.5pts
2nd Finian Maynard (RRD, Gaastra) 21.7pts
3rd Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne, Mystic) 26.4pts
4th Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard, North) 28.7pts
5th Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra, Dakine) 44pts
6th Ross Williams (Tabou, Gaastra) 51pts
7th Micah Buzianis (JP, NeilPryde) 55.7pts
8th Ben Van Der Steen (JP, Mystic) 61pts
9th Steve Allen (Starboard, Severne) 66pts
10th Jimmy Diaz (Starboard, North) 93.5pts
Overall Rankings After Three Events
Reigning PWA slalom world champion, Antoine Albeau has moved one step closer to yet another world title after claiming victory in the 25th Anniversary Fuerteventura Grand Slam by moving ahead of archrival Bjorn Dunkerbeck. And, a solid set of Results sees Micah Buzianis in third. Both Maynard and Moussilmani have climbed the ranks with their excellent results in Sotavento.
1st Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde) 6267pts
2nd Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne, Mystic) 6201pts
3rd Micah Buzianis (JP, NeilPryde) 5904pts
4th Finian Maynard (RRD, Gaastra) 5805pts
5th Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard, North) 5772pts
The Fuerteventura Grand Slam continues now with men’s freestyle for the next five days. This is the penultimate event in their calendar, so it’s a crucial stop for anyone wishing to claim the world title at the end of the year. Throughout the afternoon the most tricked up talent from across the globe registered their intentions to compete. And, with plenty of new faces the three times world champion, Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic, North) could have a lot on his plate defending his position at the top of the rankings.
Keep in the groove
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