Fuerteventura Grand Slam
The sailors knew they were in for an action packed day as they made their way to the event site for the final showdown of the 2011 Fuerteventura Grand Slam. The points were incredibly tight at the top with Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / North) fending of the many times world champion Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde) by just a tenth of a point, and with Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / Mystic) sitting not far behind everything was to play for.
Race director Juan Antonio Aragon, announced that just two more eliminations would be completed and that’s all that separated the sailors from their final result. The sun was shining, the wind was howling and the water-state was relatively flat, perfect for the final eliminations.
Right from the word go, elimination nine was full of shake-ups. Heat four witnessed the current tour leader Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / DunkerbeckEyewear) charge down the speed run at a blistering pace to take the lead, only head to the wrong buoy at the third mark taking the rest of the fleet with him. Dunkerbeck was unable to rectify his mistake, and was disqualified from the elimination. Leaving the trailing sailors from the pack to take the right route and advance into the next round.
The next upset to arise was the loss of Peter Volwater (Fanatic / MauiSails) in the second round. Volwater was caught by a lull in the wind at the start line, preventing him from planing down the speed leg with the rest of the fleet. Despite his best efforts Volwater was unable to recover from the poor start and he finished in fifth place.
Van Der Steen was next to go in heat twelve. Van Der Steen was flying around the course and held third position all the way to the third mark. He went for an aggressive gybe and made a small mistake sending his equipment flying. Van Der Steen had to swim to recover his kit, whilst the rest of the fleet sailed past.
The drama continued all the way to the semi-finals. It was essential for Cyril Moussilmani to earn a place in the winners’ final if he hoped to win the competition. However it wasn’t to be and Cyril suffered from a slow start and he was unable to reach his optimum speed until it was too late. His rival Albeau stormed through the semi-finals, followed by Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde), Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde) and Sylvain Moussilmani (Tabou / Simmer).
Special mention has to go to Australia’s Sean O’Brien (Starboard / Mystic). O’Brien sailed an incredible elimination and displayed a slick set of skills to earn a position in the winners’ final, where he finished a very respectable sixth position.
With Cyril, Dunkerbeck and Van Der Steen missing in the winners’ final Albeau knew that if he nailed the start the victory would be his. Albeau timed it to perfection and hit the start-line at full speed, leaving the rest of the fleet as he blitzed down the speed section of the course. Buzianis and Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra) were in hot pursuit but unable to match the master. Three smooth gybes and Albeau was on the home straight, sailing his way to the top of the overall scores once again.
After a quick pit stop the sailors were fuelled and ready for the final elimination of the event. By the time the fleet was back on the water the wind had really picked up and was blowing thirty knots, catching a number of the sailors out as they struggled to hold down their larger equipment on the course.
The sailors pushed the racing as hard as they could in an attempt improve their overall scores, leading to a number of spills in the first round. Arnon Dagan (Tabou / Gaastra) lost control of his kit at mark four, Jimmy Diaz (Starboard / North) caught his sail in the water on a super-charged gybe sending him flying and in a moment of excitement Alberto Menegatti (Starboard / Gaastra) went over early.
The major twist in the story arose in heat eight; Albeau was leading the fleet after a blinding start when the catastrophe occurred. His mast snapped rending him unable to sail any further and his early exit from the elimination. The door was open for Cyril Moussilmani to claim back the event win, but he would have to win the winners’ final to do so.
Cyril played it safe through his next heats, securing qualifying positions but not being too aggressive with the corners, to guarantee his place in the winners’ final. However it wasn’t going to be an easy task with the likes of Finian Maynard (RRD), Josh Angulo (Angulo / Gun / Dakine), Buzianis, Van Der Steen and Dunkerbeck present.
An extremely nervous Albeau sat watching from the beach as the green flag was raised and the slalom elite charged over the start-line. Angulo opened the race at terminal velocity, putting him in the lead whereas Cyril Moussilmani was further down the fleet. Maynard and Dunkerbeck were rapid down the straight and able to beat Angulo to the mark. Eager to win a final, Dunkerbeck pulled two super smooth gybes, fending off Maynard and Van Der Steen at every turn. Cyril was trying everything he could to make his way to the front, but the top three weren’t making any mistakes. Dunkerbeck claimed the final with Cyril coming in fourth, much to the relief of Albeau on the beach.
Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde)
“I had a great week, I won a lot of races but I also had a few poor results. I made a few mistakes and catapulted in the semi-final so I missed out on two winners’ finals. I feel like I sailed really well in both the light and the strong winds. At the end I broke a mast and I couldn’t do anything. It was a really tense finish having to watch the final, but I was the most consistent sailor and I am really happy with the result.”
Having battled it out in five events around the world the slalom fleet still have everything to fight for in the next two competitions. Dunkerbeck currently leads the fleet with three event wins. Albeau sits just behind him on the ranking ladder with two of his own win’s, and just behind the sentinels of windsurfing, Cyril Moussilmani and Van Der Steen are in easy reach of causing some upsets at the top. Who will claim the 2011 slalom champion title is anyone’s guess so make sure you head over to the PWA website for the final two events on the slalom calendar. The next stop will be the 2011 Pegasus Airlines PWA World Cup taking place on the 8th-13th August in Alacati, Turkey.
The Fuerteventura Grand Slam Men’s Slalom Results
1st Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde)
2nd Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / North)
3rd Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / Mystic)
4th Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / DunkerbeckEyewear)
5th Finian Maynard (RRD)
6th Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde)
7th Sylvain Moussilmani (Tabou / Simmer)
8th Peter Volwater (Fanatic / MauiSails)
9th Benoit Moussilmani (Tabou / Simmer)
10th Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic
The 2011 Men’s Overall Slalom Results (After 5 events)
1st Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / DunkerbeckEyewear)
2nd Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde)
3rd Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / Mystic)
4th Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / North)
5th Finian Maynard (RRD)
6th Peter Volwater (Fanatic / MauiSails)
7th Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde)
8th Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde)
9th Steven Allen (Starboard / Severne)
10th Josh Angulo (Angulo / Gun / Dakine)
Scope the action
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