Fuerteventura Grand Slam
Day Seven: Howling winds fueled the slalom fleet through two more eliminations, allowing Antoine Albeau to claim another victory and Cyril Moussilmani to follow suit.
Another gentle start to competition in Fuerteventura saw the crowds soaking up the sun on Sotavento’s golden sand and frolicking in the waves whilst they waited for the wind to build.
It was all change at the turn of one o’clock, the clouds burnt away and the Fuerteventura wind machine kicked into action. The wind continued to build throughout the afternoon reaching a peak of thirty-five knots allowing the racers to treat the crowds to an exhilarating afternoon full of thrills and spills as they battled their way through two more eliminations.
Winds blowing around 15-20 knots powered the sailors seamlessly through the second elimination of the competition; however it wasn’t without its upsets.
The cursed heat came early on in the day, witnessing Josh Angulo (Angulo / Gun / Dakine) and Julien Questel (Loft) missing out on qualifying positions. After a fantastic start Questel chose a particularly tight line around the first mark, however he was unable to hold the corner and went down, allowing the rest of the pack to fly by. Angulo was steaming around the course in fourth position all the way until the final straight when a super-charged Alberto Menegatti (Starboard / Gaastra) managed to slip past, knocking Angulo down into fifth and out the race.
The most precise starts of the day came from Kasper Juul Larsen (Starboard / North). Larsen hit the line on the buzzer in every race allowing him to consistently score qualifying positions.
Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde) took the testing conditions in his stride and flew through the opening rounds of the elimination, claiming podium positions all the way to the winners’ final.
The semi-finals saw Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / DunkerbeckEyewear) perform some extremely tactical sailing to work his way from fifth position to first place. After a slow start Dunkerbeck eyed up his victims and charged downwind to build up some serious speed, he picked the perfect line to undercut Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde), Andrea Cucchi (Patrik / Point-7) and Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra) at the second mark.
The same heat witnessed the biggest upset of the elimination; Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / Mystic) missed out on an essential place in the winners’ final. Van Der Steen was charging around the course until the third mark where he was caught out by the testing chop, sending him flying over the front. He was quickly back on board, but only able to recover fifth position.
Still high from yesterday’s result, Antoine Albeau took the second elimination by storm, securing first place in every round and winning the winners’ final, increasing his lead on the rest of the fleet.
Albeau opened the winners’ final with a perfectly timed start; however Dunkerbeck was hot on his heels. Dunkerbeck opted for an aggressive inside line on the first gybe mark, but it wasn’t enough to make it past the French slalom master. Albeau played Dunkerbeck all the way down the second leg, not letting him gain an inch. Further down the pack Peter Volwater (Fanatic / MauiSails) and Quentel were charging hard following Dunkerbeck’s every move. By the third mark Albeau had distanced himself well ahead of the rest of the fleet, leaving Quentel and Dunkerbeck to fight it out for the podium positions. Quentel managed to blitz his way past Dunkerbeck on the final straight to secure second place.
As the sailors entered elimination three, the wind really started to accelerate, catching many of the sailors out in the early races as they were still on their larger equipment. The opening races were littered with enormous crashes as the sailors struggled to hold on in the extreme winds.
Having had a run of bad luck in the first two eliminations, Angulo was fired up and back on form for the third. He stormed around his heats in first place all the way to the winners’ final, obviously favouring the stronger winds.
The Moussilmani brothers, Cyril (Starboard / North), Sylvain (Tabou / Simmer) and Benoit (Tabou / Simmer) came into their own in high winds, destroying their opponents and working their way to the winners’ final to claim 1st, 5th and 6th place respectively.
The semi-finals took a strange turn as both Dunkerbeck and Albeau failed to claim their spots in the winners' final. Having started the race in third place, Dunkerbeck was caught out by a lull in the wind and dropped down into sixth place at the third mark. Albeau suffered from the very start of his race, seeing him drop to the back of the pack by the first mark. He fought hard the whole way down the second leg; however he knew he was destined for a place in the losers’ final so he made his way back to the beach to prepare for the next race.
Without the windsurfing slalom sentinels present, the door was open for the rest of the fleet to fight for first place. Cyril Moussilmani spotted his opportunity and sprang into action off the start line. Van Der Steen, Volwater and Angulo were close behind fighting for second, third and fourth place. Angulo pushed his gybe too hard at the third mark and went down, allowing the rest of the fleet to rush past and Cedric Bordes (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic) to slip into fourth place. By the final leg Cyril was well ahead of the rest of the fleet, winning the third elimination and boosting his result up to fifth place.
With the conditions fading away and two eliminations completed the sailors were released for the day. The action will kick off at 10:00am tomorrow morning with the skippers’ meeting. The first possible start to racing will be 10:30am.
Results (After 3 eliminations)
1st Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde)
2nd Peter Volwater (Fanatic / MauiSails)
3rd Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / DunkerbeckEyewear)
4th Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / Mystic)
5th Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / North)
6th Sylvain Moussilmani (Tabou / Simmer)
7th Finian Maynard (RRD)
8th Ludovic Jossin (Loft)
9th Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde)
10th Cedric Bordes (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic)
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