The 2007 Costa Teguise Grand Slam - Day 6
Antoine Albeau (Starboard / NeilPryde) leapfrogs Bjorn Dunkerbeck (T1 / North) to seize the event lead. Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / MauiSails) sneaks into second overall after victory in 2 out of 3 of today’s races. Dunkerbeck is left in third as the final day approaches.
Lighter winds than previous days made for ideal slalom conditions and the start of Race 8.
The big surprise in this race was Dunkerbeck’s failure to make the final after just missing out this second semi-final.
The lighter winds for the final suited Britain’s Ross Williams who prevails in the softer breezes. He was pursued by Pritchard who showed his first signs of returning to form.
Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra) described the race. ‘I started by the pin-end of the mark, and really tried to push everyone upwind to give myself a lot of space by the mark. That way I could really run at the line with a lot of speed with 3 seconds or so to go. I knew that if I got away easily I could string all the gybes together and that no one could catch me. I saw Arnon after the first gybe, and I knew he might provide a risk to me, but I know Kevin tried to snake in and slowed him down. I’m super happy as it’s my first PWA final win, plus I won my qualifying heat and semi-final so it was a great confidence booster - especially as I’ve underperformed recently, even in my preferred conditions’
This time Dunkerbeck didn’t even get out of his qualifying heat, and William wasted his chance to build on the previous race’s success by getting stuck in traffic in his semi-final.
However race-smart Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / MauiSails) had other plans on resurrecting his luck as others floundered around him. The American reflected on his smooth getaway ‘Taking my usual pin-end, the far downwind end of the start line, I got underway in really clean air. I didn’t really try to push anyone upwind before the gun, although I’m always making sure no one’s going to come down on top of me. From there I got out front, and managed to build a lead, a really good lead, by gybing well right on the swells. Even my last gybe was good as sometimes you get a little nervous in holding the last one together when you’re out in front. I didn’t really see anyone else near me so I focused on trying to keep a clean line as there is a lot of weed out there and stuff in the water – I caught some in my semi-final which could have spelled disaster’
Another disastrous first semi-final spelt disaster for Dunkerbeck. Caught in a pack of six the legend was one of several top-seeds sucked over the line early.
The final, was won once again by Pritchard ‘Well that was a carbon-copy race of the last one for me really. I can’t complain about the day I’ve had today and the way I’ve clawed my way back from 6th up to second overall. I’ve had some bad luck recently and this is exactly what I needed to pick myself back up’
Race 11 was cancelled at the semi-final stages as the wind dropped below acceptable levels.
Albeau has taken the initiative here by working quietly in the background. The 2006 champ is still modest about his chances as the final day looms. ‘It’s still wide open if you look at the points – anyone could take it still. But, I feel confident, and the slightly stronger wind forecast tomorrow should suit me better – we’ll wait and see!’
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© PWA / Brian McDowell