2011 Aruba Grand Slam
The tension on the beach could be cut with a knife as the sailors entered the final day of competition, race director Juan Antonio Aragon announced at the skippers meeting that elimination seven would be completed and only one more race would be sailed after that.
With the trusty trade wind’s kicking in around 10:30am, the action picked up with heats one and two of the women’s elimination seven. Karin Jaggi (Patrik / Severne) and Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic) began the day with very little between their scores; both sailors knew they had to be on top form to emerge victorious in Aruba.
In the opening heats both Fanny Aubet (JP / NeilPryde) and Valerie Arrighetti (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic) stormed into the top spots having timed their starts to perfection. Both ladies held off the fleet the whole way around the course in order to secure their entry into the final.
The ensuing showdown saw Offringa turn on her turbo chargers and unleash everything she had, in order to claim the valuable victory. Meanwhile the rest of the fleet were caught in a pile up initiated by Alice Arutkin (Starboard / North). Karin Jaggi somehow managed to avoid the drama until a rough piece of chop caught her out, rendering her unable to complete the race. Offringa’s result bumped her up into first place, leaving everything to play for in the final elimination before it was set in stone.
The men’s elimination seven was full off thrills and spills, seeing Josh Angulo (Angulo / Gun / Dakine) Jimmy Diaz (Starboard / North) and Kurosh Kiani (Angulo / Simmer) all lose out in the quarter finals due to premature starts.
Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic) sailed an incredible set of heats, working his way into the winner’s final for the second time this week, reaching blistering speed on his 6.6m sail while the majority of the fleet were using 8m and up.
Entering the men’s elimination seven winner’s final, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / DunkerbeckEyewear) sat a fraction of a point behind Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde), the crowds on the beach fell silent as the pressure mounted and the sailors crossed the start line.
Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / Mystic) opened the heat with a perfectly timed start, but lost his lead at the first mark to Dunkerbeck who was fired up and gunning for the vital heat victory. Albeau suffered during the hustle at the start line putting him in an unrecoverable position from the outset. The crowds watched the marks fly by as Albeau managed to work his way into fourth, chasing down Van Der Steen, Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Fanatic / North) and his arch nemesis Dunkerbeck but his efforts were in vain as Bjorn succeeded in securing a huge lead on the fleet, marking the turning point in the overall event scores.
After having his claws on the number one position through six eliminations, Albeau had now dropped down into second place and needed to win the final race, with Bjorn at least finishing fifth in order to steal back the victory.
Elimination eight opened up to an explosive first heat. Once again Frans caught the attention of the beach as he displayed his lighting speed working his way from fourth into the lead, overtaking Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde) and Sebastian Kordel (NeilPryde) on his way past.
Disaster struck for Costa Hoevel in the second heat, as he over-stepped the start line early, seeing him struck from the elimination. Having had a great run at this event Costa Hoevel was knocked down from fourth to a disastrous eleventh place in the overall standings.
More drama arose in heat five as Kiani erupted out of the starting gates to take the lead, followed by Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde). Surprised by his lead Kiani then made a fatal error and took off towards the fourth mark rather than the second. In an attempt to rectify his mistake, he was forced to put a tack in just in time to watch the rest of the fleet fly past.
Moving into the quarter finals, the pressure to perform increased leading to more and more premature starts, the first to suffer were Peter Volwater (Fanatic / MauiSails) and Cedric Bordes (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic) in heat twelve, shortly followed by Frans in heat thirteen.
The final and critical crescendo came in heat fourteen, when Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra), Ludo Jossin (Loft) and windsurfing icons Albeau and Dunkerbeck all forced too hard and went over early. The dramatic turn of events cemented Dunkerbeck’s event win and left Albeau helpless in the battle for second place leaving the door open for Van Der Steen to snatch the valuable podium spot. With only four men remaining in heat there was no need for it to be run and the racing progressed into the finals.
Having the blessing of the wind gods Van Der Steen had the opportunity to break into the Dunkerbeck, Albeau stronghold over first and second. In order to cause an upset at the top of the ranks it was essential for Van Der Steen to perform to his fullest potential.
Opening the winner’s final Van Der Steen hit the start line right on the button, closely followed by Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / North) and Quentel. In spite of the challenges from the rest of the fleet Van Der Steen delivered an exceptional performance seeing him win the race and slide into second place overall, knocking Albeau down into third.
The PWA caught up with Van Der Steen to find out how he was feeling after such a momentous day.
“I am super stoked; this is my first time in second place at a PWA event. I came in third in Costa Brava, but second is even better. I am right up there with the big boys now.”
Over in the women’s fleet the tension was also causing the sailors to crack under the pressure with one round remaining. The first heat saw Zofia Klepacka (RRD / North) fall victim to a false start. In with a chance of a podium finish Fanny Aubet sailed a perfect race securing herself a position in the winner’s final whilst Mio Anayama of Japan (NeilPryde) crashed hard and failed to complete the race.
In order for Offringa to secure an event win it was essential she made it into the winner’s final. Casting all nerves aside she flew out of the starting gates in the second heat and built up a substantial lead in front of the rest of the fleet securing an easy win.
With everything to play for all eyes were on the women’s winner final. Valerie Arrighetti (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic) executed a perfect start securing her an early lead on the pack, followed by Aubet and Jaggi, with Offringa back in fourth. In an aggressive move to chase the number one spot Jaggi took the inside line at the first mark but unfortunately clipped her sail causing her to lose control and fall down. Taking advantage Offringa slipped into third knowing that if he held onto the position she could win the event. Offringa set her sights on second place behind Arrighetti and charged passed Aubet, however not wanting to make a mistake she took the remainder of the course cautiously to secure her event win.
The PWA caught up with Karin Jaggi to find out her thoughts on the weeks racing.
“The week started great with a win, I felt really confident, but then I didn’t manage another one. The start has been quite difficult in the gusty conditions but you have to be right at the front to make it, you can’t come from the back full speed, so I had to get used to that. The racing was great and the level is really high, there are four or five girls winning so that is great to see. In the end Sarah-Quita was more consistent and I am really pleased for her to win on her home ground.”
Quotes from the top
Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / DunkerbeckEyewear)
“This is amazing; my equipment is really fast so I knew if everything was working I could win. I had a few hiccups at the start of the competition, I crashed in the second final, and went to the wrong mark after they had adjusted the course in another, and then after that I won four out of eight. I am really happy that it came down to the last round and I managed to pull it off.
Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic)
“I was quite inconsistent throughout the competition but every time it went well I came in first which meant I didn’t have to fight really hard today. I managed to win the first final today which put me just ahead of Karin; I then just had to finish in front of her of within fourth to win. Karin crashed at the first mark so from then on I just wanted to win second place and not make any mistakes.”
1st Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / DunkerbeckEyewear)
2nd Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / Mystic)
3rd Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde)
4th Finian Maynard (RRD)
5th Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde)
6th Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / North)
7th Antoine Questel (Loft)
8th Arnon Dagan (Tabou / Gaastra)
9th Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic)
10th Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde)
1st Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic)
2nd Karin Jaggi (Patrik / Severne)
3rd Valerie Arrighetti (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic)
4th Fanny Aubet (JP / NeilPryde)
5th Alice Arutkin (Starboard / North)
6th Cagla Kubat (Starboard / North)
7th Lena Erdil (Patrik / Loft / AL360)
8th Delphine Cousin (JP / NeilPryde)
9th Zofia Klepacka (RRD / North)
10th Lise Vidal (Exocet / North)
The PWA will now embark on the Canary Islands leg of competition, opening up with Lanzarote for the fifth stop on the men’s freestyle tour, taking place on the Jun 30 - Jul 03. For more information, please contact the PWA office via firstname.lastname@example.org