The 2007 Catalunya Costa Brava PWA World Cup Slalom – Event Summary
The picturesque Bay of Roses, on Spain’s Costa Brava, gave its annual Catalonian welcome to the PWA World Tour from June 12th through 17th
The Ballena Alegre Camping resort - the site of many famous Freestyle and Super-X face-offs in the past, hosted the elite talent of the PWA’s electrifying Slalom racing format.
A favorite on tour, the entrants all stay on-site in bungalows surrounding the Race HQ, and enjoy numerous evening functions and no-wind activities in the beautiful landscape at the foot of the Pyrenean Mountains.
A Tricky Business
This, the second racing event of 2007, spluttered into action over the first two days as fluky, conditions challenged both patience and skills of the 48-man fleet.
Sketchy light wind prevented race 1 from being completed on the first day, but day 2 and the completion of the second race set the tone for what was to come.
Initially the big story was undoubtedly how Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / MauiSails), who rocked up in Catalunya as tour leader, failed to get out of the blocks. His hopes of building on the critical event win in Korea, snapped with his mast in race 1.
Micah Buzianis, (JP / NeilPryde), who placed second in Ulsan, capitalized to win the first race, and so established a slender lead over the 2007 World Champ Antoine Albeau (Starboard / NeilPryde). PWA Chairman Jimmy Diaz made an opening bid himself with a respectable third.
Race 2 – Half Fleet
Around 20 knots of wind allowed Bjorn Dunkerbeck (T1 / North) to ruthlessly hammer home a decisive win. He headed a magnificent 24-man final of the half-fleet format, which, in good wind conditions, dazzled the crowds on the beach.
The fabled star stated he was ‘Only operating at around 90% capacity’ during the spectacular race. Pritchard slipped-up once more, this time registering a mere 7th…
Dunkerbeck’s result wasn’t enough to see him into the podium positions just yet as he’d also crashed-out in race 1. Antoine Albeau however stayed in contention after a cool and collected second.
Buzianis’ 3rd kept him in pole before an excruciating 3-day wait for wind, after Race 3 was left incomplete.
Last Chance Sunday.
Eventually adequate breeze permitted a classic final-day face-off to settle the event title. The much-welcomed wind offered a huge number of riders the chance to throw away their worst result as soon as a fourth race could be completed.
The pending 3rd race was left on hold until much stronger wind later in the day allowed clean enough air for the larger half-fleet starts.
Albeau, celebrating his 35th birthday, immediately muscled his way into the lead with a crucial Race 4 win. The phenomenon from the Isle de Re boldly chose a massive 9.0sqm sail whilst others struggled on 7.8’s. This tenacity out-shadowed even Dunkerbeck, who opted for the same tactic, although he merely used an 8.3 to obliterate all behind him!
Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (F2 / NeilPryde) at last got some points for securing third. Earlier in the week the Argentinean had grafted through several re-starts and cancellations, which conspired to spoil any momentum he’d tried to build.
Buzianis was now on a downward spiral. Perhaps feeling too relaxed, the American rolled in 9th in Race 4, before his attention wandered and he went over early on Race 5.
That 5th race was comprehensively taken by the vastly experienced German, Bernd Flessner (F2 / NeilPryde). Flessner, a veteran of countless Grand Slam contests, has shown he can easily compete with the younger generation of racers as Slalom’s comeback continues to grow in popularity.
Needless to say, in the absence of Buzianis through disqualification, it was Albeau who followed the German to register second, and maintain the event lead as the fourth race discard came into effect.
Dutch powerhouse Ben Van Der Steen (Exocet / Naish) clocked-in third to illustrate how improved concentration and consistency could help fulfill his vast potential this season.
The mixed bag of results continued. Finally Pritchard restored pride and seized a vital victory in race 6. He was pursued by Frenchman Cyril Moussilmani (Fanatic / North), who was displaying a late showing of form, and there were no prizes for guessing who was in third. Yep, you guessed it. Albeau was hell-bent on maintaining his grip on the title, edging out Buzianis who could only finish in fourth.
Race 3 – Half Fleet
Gusts of nearly 30 knots really turned the heat up for the final race, the deferred half-fleet third race that was run over an elongated long-distance course.
Smoothly slipping into top gear, Cyril Moussilmani took the opposite tactic of the giants of racing, by cunningly picking the more comfortable set-up of a smaller rig to gain control in the choppy water.
He was pursued by teammate Patrik Diethelm (F2 / North) and Pritchard, who by posting this third place, edged back up to a respectable top 10 positions for the event.
1. Antoine Albeau
2. Micah Buzianis
3. Bjorn Dunkerbeck
Albeau’s 13th place finish thankfully didn’t affect his event lead and the multiple world Champion deservedly topped the podium.
The next event in Lanzarote is bound to be intriguing. Buzianis is in the perfect position to apply pressure on Albeau. Pritchard, despite his hiccup, is still well in the frame in third after surrendering his lead here in Catalunya.
Dunkerbeck, who missed the first event in Korea, will rely on an event discard come the season’s end if he performs well during the up-coming Canarian leg. For now he must settle for 17th overall.
Overall Slalom rankings to date
1. Antoine Albeau
2. Micah Buzianis
3. Kevin Pritchard
You can review the event at www.pwaworldtour.com
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© PWA / Brian McDowell