The 2007 Gran Canaria PWA Grand Slam – Final Day
Antoine Albeau (Starboard / NeilPryde) holds his nerve to secure the event title after a nerve-racking final race showdown. Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / MauiSails) swoops to take the final race win and second overall ahead of his brother Matt Prichard (Tabou / Gaastra) who bagged third. Wave sailing winner Victor Fernandez (Fanatic / Simmer) clinches the El Maquinola Super-Session with a trademark double forward loop in the dying seconds.
Solid 30-40 knot wind conditions meant another banquet of high-wind slalom was on the table for the final day feast to settle the event title. Two races were placed on the schedules and a short testing course was set with a finish near the beach in the building swell.
Using their smallest sails most of the riders were stacked on sails of around 5.0 sqm and really at their limit of control.
The 13th race was unlucky for some as quite a few top names struggled around the course. Those botching their attempts at making the final included Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra) and Patrik Diethelm (F2 / North). Benoit Moussilmani (F2 / Simmer) however made up for his shortfall by winning the loser’s final ahead of his brother Sylvain Moussilmani (F2 / Simmer).
A lot of the top seeds played it safe in the final but one player was determined to make this race count. Dutchman Ben Van Der Steen (Exocet / Naish) lived-up to his growing reputation for gaining consistency by taking his virgin PWA race win. (Bjorn Dunkerbeck (T1 / North) was cursed as he catapulted going over the start line and subsequently losing his final shot at the event crown)
The energized Van Der Steen described his approach to victory. ‘I started a few places up from the pin – you just can’t get near Matt Pritchard (Tabou / Gaastra) and Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / MauiSails) at the downwind end of the line. I’d heard from some people watching the starts that most of the guys were not really pushing it that hard so I went for it and crossed in first. I was surprised to keep the lead at the first mark as normally Antoine comes down on you from on top really hard there. I simply kept the lead from then as I was fast on my 5.0 and the Naish 54 and even though I’ve not had much time on that small sail before I was stoked to take my first ever bullet’
Kevin Pritchard took a vital second place ahead of brother Matt to pile the pressure on event leader Albeau and to virtually eliminate Bjorn Dunkerbeck’s chances of a podium finish. ‘I was just stoked to qualify’ explained Kev. ‘I fell at the first mark in the semi-final and had to gybe my way back up to 5th. In the final I got tangled-up with Antoine at the second mark and that kind of worked-out better for me than him. The I saw Matt was overpowered and so I took him inside as he gybed safe and wide and claimed second’
Albeau gave us his take on the second mark drama and how the barometer rose after his fall cost him the chance of sealing the event title before the ultimate race. ‘Yeah at the second mark Kevin pushed me out and I didn’t really think it was that cool. I ended-up in 8th and so I started the last race a little bit stressed’
Race 13 Results
1. Ben van Der Steen
2. Kevin Pritchard
3. Matt Pritchard
The tension was rife before the final of race 14 due to the hair- breadth point’s difference between Albeau and Matt and Kevin Pritchard.
The final was stacked full of elite names who gave their all to make the final. Of those missing out Cedric Bordes (Tabou / Gaastra) rounded-off a solid event by taking the loser’s final win and putting his hand up as one of the PWA’s future racing stars.
No-one really pressed the line too hard at the start of the final but the fleet was even all the way along the first reach. Albeau was amongst the podium pretenders at the first gybe and in his words ‘Just took it easy. I knew I had enough speed to be in the top 4 or so, so I rounded without any risks and stayed calm and tried to avoid any mistakes’
Race winner Kevin Pritchard however was a little more determined and that shone through as he screamed along every inch of the course to bag the victory. ‘Bjorn had messed-up in the race before so the pressure was off, but still it’d all come down to the final race. I really needed a good start and to just beat my brother really. I was disappointed not to have scored a 0.7 for a first after 13 races, so, I switched-down onto a 5.1 which helped me gybe better. I got an OK start and kept the hammer down and we all rounded the first mark together but I came out of the turn fastest and away she went’
Albeau rolled-in second to consequently take the Pozo event win and strengthen his grip on the tour lead, and Matt Pritchard bagged third to guarantee himself the runner-up’s trophy.
Race 14 Results
1. Kevin Pritchard
2. Antoine Albeau
3. Matt Pritchard
Matt Pritchard was over the moon with his final placing. ‘Stoked. I haven’t played with these guys for ages. I’ve really enjoyed grabbing some gear and doing well with equipment I know works great and I’ll always enjoy coming in as the underdog’
Kevin Pritchard reflected on his third place for the event which has slid him into second overall for the year. ‘It feels good to get podium and to now move up into 2nd for the year to date. I liked it when it came to pressure cooker time that I could step-up and take a bullet, as succeeding under pressure is always a good feeling. Next week in Fuerteventura I’m just gonna play my own game and concentrate hard on getting the points lead back’
Albeau once again showed us here that he can play the full deck of cards when it comes to competing, from total domination to a safe and conservative approach. ‘I’m happy to have three wins in a row, plus I have third from Korea. With three events to go I don’t feel too much pressure as I already won the title last season, so it’s not quite as vital to me as in 2006. That said I’ll be trying my hardest to win in Fuerteventura and to keep the momentum going’ said the modest multiple world champion
El Maquinola Super-Session
Canary Islands surfsports magazine El Maquinola sponsored a jumping-only Super-Session to round off an epic Pozo Grand Slam event. Two men’s qualifying heats, a women’s heat and a junior section entertained the crowds with an array of off-the-wall stunts.
Daida Moreno (North) won the women’s category with her insane Pushloop-tabletops and Philip Koster (Starboard/ Severne) showed why he’s a future star of the PWA scene with his amazing performance of high backloops, shakas and forwards in the junior division.
Victor Fernandez claimed the win after landing a perfect, high, planing double forward in the dying seconds. The level of tricks was though the roof, but the Spaniard won despite stiff opposition from Ricardo Campello (JP / NeilPryde) and Kauli Seadi (Quatro / Naish). Seadi failed to land his Push-loop forward loop and Campello was on fire with his doubles and Pushloop table tops.
There is a glamorous prize-giving and closing ceremony tonight for the competitors at the Gloria Palace Hotel, the official event accommodation partner.
Congratulations to the winners Daida Moreno (North) Antoine Albeau (Starboard / NeilPryde) and Victor Fernandez (Fanatic / Simmer)
The tour rolls on to the neighbouring island Fuerteventura and Sotavento beach for the 2007 Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam from July 20th through 30th
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© PWA / Brian McDowell