The 2007 Gran Canaria PWA Grand Slam – Day 4
Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde) strikes early to take the event lead in women’s freestyle after a stunning performance against 2006 Freestyle world champion Daida Moreno (North). Antoine Albeau (Starboard / NeilPryde) slices through the slalom fleet to record victory in race 3 ahead of Pozo legend Bjorn Dunkerbeck (T1 / North).
Lighter wind than normal greeted the competitors this morning and the call was made to get the first single elimination of the women’s freestyle underway.
All the clear favourites advanced from the early heats, although all the competitors’ skills were tested in the Pozo environment which was certainly more demanding than the last event in Lanzarote.
The semi-finals threw up a tough heat with last year’s impressive debutant and 3rd overall finisher Laure Treboux (Naish / Naish) against the current tour leader Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde). Treboux seemed happy enough with the result. ‘It’s always fun to sail against Sarah-Quita. I think it was close and I don’t think I sailed as well as the heat before but I enjoyed it anyway!’
Offringa’s off-season advancements showed through, and she advanced to the final to meet Pozo’s Queen of the waves, Daida Moreno who’d survived a tough semi-final match against Spaniard Silvia Alba.
Adding to the tension, the wind backed-off a little before the end of the encounter, causing the final to be re-sailed with a longer heat duration. When it re-started the lighter winds didn’t suit Moreno who was always going to rely on jumping manoeuvres and wind blown ramps against Offringa’s arsenal of sliding tricks.
Moreno pulled some impressive stunts such as a T-Bone switch stance forward and nice one-handed Spocks, but was unable to pull any of her classy flaka’s or flaka-diablo’s.
Offringa however, stepped into a league of her own. She stunned the crowds and judging panel with an amazing air flaka, a switch-stance chacho, a Funnel, a Cana Brabu and an E-Slider - all on top of regular tricks like Puneta’s and spocks.
‘I was nervous before the final, but it was cancelled and the judges decided to give us a longer heat duration’ explained Offringa. ‘But, in the re-sail I was more relaxed and on a larger sail. I had time to get further outside, and give myself room to do all the switch-stance tricks that use-up distance downwind. I could hear the crowd on the beach after my switch-chacho, and from there I felt like I could land anything and stuck all the rest of my tricks sweetly. Stoked!’
The Aruban prodigy is coming of age in amazing fashion this season. The rest of the event, and the wider range of conditions forecast are likely to make a fantastic story for the top runners to play-out.
Results after Single Elimination
1. Sarah-Quita Offringa
2. Daida Moreno
3. Laure Treboux
Slightly more consistent wind prompted the crew to run race 3 of the slalom in the afternoon.
Slalom Race 3
Antoine Albeau (Starboard / NeilPryde) cut a clear and decisive victory in race 3. The tour leader, and 2006 racing champion successfully snaked Bjorn Dunkerbeck (T1 / North) who led from the start to record the race win.
‘Yeah Bjorn had the best start’ said Albeau, who’s under the weather and suffering from a cold. ‘He was in the middle of the start line, and I was upwind at the boat-end and a little late going over. I was fast to the first mark, but Bjorn made it there first. He was gybing safely and fairly wide, however I was high approaching the buoy and got an inside line and better acceleration away into the second reach. From there I was away and built a reasonable lead’
Results after Race 3
1. Antoine Albeau
2. Bjorn Dunkerbeck
3. Kevin Pritchard
Once again the wind denied another race as it switched to a northerly direction. That meant the competition area became too gusty and scattered with large glassy patches of water unsuitable for racing.
The plan tomorrow is to run the women’s double elimination of freestyle and continue with slalom.
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© PWA / Brian McDowell