The 2006 Alacati PWA World Cup / IFCA Slalom World Championships - Day 1
Maynard wins two out of two, throwing down gauntlet to Albeau who struggles to keep up. Meanwhile confusion reigns in the women’s fleet as bad luck and avoidable errors plague the top girls.
Fresh from the testing conditions of the Fuerteventura Grand Slam, the PWA Slalom fleet descended upon the picturesque location of Alalcati, on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. Famed for its reliable thermal winds, azure blue waters and luxurious hospitality, Alacati plays host to the third stop on this year’s PWA Slalom 42 Tour.
After dominating the first 2 contests of the season, all eyes were Antoine Albeau (F-192, Starboard / NeilPryde) to see if he could maintain his winning streak and take a decisive third event win. Meanwhile, in the women’s division, Karin Jaggi (SUI-14 F2 / North Sails) was hoping to consolidate on her Fuerteventura victory to stamp her name firmly on this years title.
Conditions were relatively simple compared to the choppy water and nuclear winds of the Canary Islands, with sailors gliding across the smooth waters, many on sails of 9 square metres or more. The first heats were underway soon after 11 am and there were few surprises as the who’s who of racing easily found there way through into the second round.
In the quarter finals, Turkish sailor Icingir Ertugul (TUR-1) delighted the home crowds winning the heat ahead of both Volwater and Buzianis, but in general there were no major upsets and all the expected names made it through to the top 20.
In the first semi final, Buzianis led the pack round the course with Maynard and Ross Williams (GBR-83, Tabou / Gaastra) qualifying easily for the final ahead of Bora Kozanoglu (TUR-11) and Jimmy Diaz (ISV-11, F2 / North Sails). Semi final number 2 was a seemingly easy job for Albeau who cruised round the course with only team-mate Pieter Bijl (NED-0, Fanatic / NeilPryde) for company. Long serving Brazilian, Wilhelm Schurman (BRA-999, Neil Pryde) proved he is still a name to watch, also slipping into the top 10 just ahead of Bjorn Dunkerbeck (E-11, T-1 / North Sails) and Kevin Pritchard (US-3, Starboard / Maui Sails).
The losers final was clearly dominated by Ben Van Der Steen (NED-57, Exocet / Naish) who, despite a less than perfect start, gybed into the lead at mark one, narrowly avoiding a huge pile up behind him, that left him unchallenged for the remainder of the course. Ertuglu once again raised cheers from the beach coming in second.
In the final, it was the big dog – Finian Maynard - who streaked off the start first and set a blistering pace to the first mark, hotly pursued by Dunkerbeck and Bijl. Albeau arrived in fifth, trailing behind 2005 champ Micah Buzianis (USA-34, JP / NeilPryde). To make matters worse, Bijl and Dunkerbeck collided at the mark causing chaos for the chasing pack. Capitalising on the confusion, Buzianis and Albeau came through the melee and set about reeling in Maynard. Buzianis simply did not have the speed to make any ground on the world’s fastest sailor but Albeau on the other hand, slipped past the American and set his sights firmly on the leader. Knowing it was now or never, Albeau bore away to an extreme broad course and began to make ground on Maynard who had stayed tight to ensure clean wind. Albeau was catching Maynard all along the final reach, but he had left it too late and the Virgin Island Colossus crossed the line to win just metres ahead of Albeau with Buzianis in third.
After a break for lunch, race 2 got underway in the warm afternoon sun. The PWA’s finest slipped easily through into the top 20, joined by local Turkish talent in the form of Bora Kozanoglu (TUR-11) and Ertugul, along with seasoned Polish Racer Pavel Hlavaty (POL-11, Starboard / Severne). The big upset in the semi finals, was the failure of Dunkerbeck to qualify for the top 10, following a disastrous start.
In the losers final, everyone expected the white North sail leading, way ahead of the pack, to be that of Dunkerbeck, but it was in fact PWA Chairman, Jimmy Diaz (ISV-11, F2 / North Sails) who won the losers final almost an entire leg ahead of his would be challengers, followed by Schurman, Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (ARG-3, F2 / NeilPryde) and Dunkerbeck, only managing fourth.
The winners final shot across the line with Pritchard leading, ahead of Maynard, Sylvain Moussilmani (F-73, F2) and Albeau, who had taken a very low start at the pin end. By the first gybe, Maynard’s pure speed had once again pushed him out in front, now chased by Ross Williams (GBR-83, Tabou / Gaastra). When Maynard reached the second mark, Albeau was starting his come back and had pushed past Steve Allen (AUS-0, Tabou / Gaastra) into fourth behind Pritchard. Unlike the previous final however, Albeau was buried too deep in the pack to wind up to full speed and he failed to significantly dent the lead of the three forerunners. Maynard took his second win followed by Pritchard in second, who had slipped past Williams on the final reach to leave the Englishman in third.
In the women’s fleet, it was Allison Shreeve (AUS-911, F2 / NeilPryde) who set the standard for races to follow, showing blistering speed in the billiard table flat conditions. Karin Jaggi (SUI-14, F2 / North Sails), who was forced to sail on borrowed equipment as hers had not arrived, was nowhere near her recent event winning performance from Fuerteventura, having to settle for second in the first race, followed by Sarah Herbert (FRA-61, Starboard / Naish) in third.
Catastrophically for Shreeve, she missed the start of the second ladies race and only crossed the line as the other girls were rounding the second mark. This was all the encouragement that Verena Fauster (ITA-31, F2 / Gaastra) needed and she pulled clear ahead, chased by Herbert and Jaggi. Jaggi’s bad luck then continued as she fell at the last mark, allowing Christine Johnstone (GBR-93) to pass. Fauster won ahead of Herbert in second and Johnstone in third.
Fired up by her own mistakes, Shreeve was taking no prisoners at the start of ladies race 3. Straight off the line, she began to pull away, leaving Fauster, Herbet and Jaggi in her wake. There was confusion at the first gybe as Fauster and Herbert got tangled allowing Jaggi to stay in touch with the leaders, but there was no catching Shreeve who won clearly ahead of Fauster in second, Herbert in third and a very respectable performance from Cagla Kubat (TUR-75) who rolled in fifth behind Jaggi.
The opening salvoes of this slalom battle, have shaken the foundations of the 2006 PWA Slalom 42 Championship, awakening the world to the fact that the outcome is far from a foregone conclusion. One thing is for sure though, there will be more down to the wire racing tomorrow, so be sure to check back to www.pwaworldtour.com for all the latest news and updates throughout the day.
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