The 2007 Colgate World Cup Sylt – Day 7
Marcilio Browne seizes the Freestyle world title as 2006 champ Jose Estredo and tour leader Kiri Thode’s hopes fade into the twilight. A long day of tension and drama also saw 2007 slalom champ Antoine Albeau demolish the opposition with a stunning hat of race wins.
An early meet for the freestylers came to no avail and the call was made to switch to slalom racing as soon as a few early heats of the double elimination were abandoned.
2006 racing champ Antoine Albeau (Starboard / NeilPryde) was slow out of the blocks in the first race. Originally the Frenchman appeared lethargic after sealing the 2007 crown back in Fuerteventura in July.
A fourth place finish didn’t deter the champ who went on to destroy everyone else later in the afternoon. Ahead of Albeau in race one were some of the day’s other form players - Bjorn Dunkerbeck (T1 / North), who’s arrived here determined to bag the final podium slot for 2007, Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / MauiSails), who’s secured second overall and Dutch speed merchant Pieter Bijl (Fanatic / NeilPryde).
Dunkerbeck stormed out all guns blazing today from race 1, but his performance faded in comparison to Albeau’s massacre. Kevin Pritchard also recovered well over the day after missing the race 3 final, but dug deep to record another 3rd place and a critical 2nd place finish in race 4 to take second overall in the event standings.
Albeau’s resurgence was immediate and lethal. Three back-to-back race wins followed where the champ fully stamped down his authority, taking a crucial and lasting psychological victory for everyone to carry with them far into next season.
‘Yeah I guess with the pressure off I could relax and that helped me line up some great starts and take some bold overtaking moves which paid off. Normally I might have played it a little safer but here I could go for it, plus I like these conditions and I love the Sylt atmosphere and always have a good time racing here’
The day started with Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra) topping the leader board after a useful 4th in race 2, but, as the first discard came into play after race 4 he slipped to 4th overall and allowed Dunkerbeck and Pritchard to leapfrog him into the remaining podium slots.
With the maximum 4 races completed, the organizers wasted no time in handing the spotlight to the freestylers for their double elimination.
Freestyle Double Elimination
There were 5 riders in contention for the 2007 world title today– three of them still in their teenage years…3 times champ Ricardo Campello (JP / NeilPryde), Thomas Traversa (Tabou / Gaastra), 17-yr old Tour leader Kiri Thode (Starboard / Gaastra), 2006 champ Jose Estredo (Fanatic / North) aged 17, and 18 yr old Marcilio Browne (Mistral / Gaastra) of Brazil.
The pressure gauge went off the scale as the late afternoon session eliminated them one by one as the light and time to complete further competition faded.
The first key loss was that of Kiri Thode, who touched down in Germany in pole position and only had to advance two positions in the ladder to take the trophy back to Bonaire.
But the youngster, fresh from excluding Traversa, stumbled during his heat against ruthless Gaastra team mate Anthony Ruenes (Tabou / Gaastra) who’s power moves left Thode reeling in the dusk shadows.
Ruenes’ fatigue soon showed however when he went down at then hands of the partisan German crowds favorite, Andre Paskowski (F2 / North) who’d enjoyed the momentum he’d built from the second round.
But it was Paskowski’s turn to feel the effects of tiredness next when he came against Browne who destroyed him with a superior range of power moves and precision manoeuvres.
The tension became unbearable immediately as Browne faced-up to Campello for a do or die finale to the day. In near darkness the two went out for an all-out conflict to settle the title.
If Campello won he’d rely on a chance to finish the double elimination and would have to beat Estredo, and if Browne won he’d have enough points to secure the silverware providing an unlikely second double elimination is run.
Looking at the time left and the forecasts this was almost impossible and so all eyes were focused on the brooding North Sea twilight for the winner.
Browne seemed once more to be on a different level and landed almost every move he tried. Campello came back fighting hard at the end but had fallen too often on the technical tricks and air moves to win.
An elated ‘Brawzinho’ described how he felt after earning rapturous applause and cheers after a presentation onstage to the crowd. ‘I feel like my heart is in my mouth! You know I felt relaxed in the end. I was nervous in the week of course, but eventually I forgot about the points, enjoyed myself and just concentrated on landing my moves. I had great support from the beach from Nik and Kauli and Ian. I also had to forget the pain I’ve had in my feet since an injury in the single elimination and Nik had talked me through what gear to use, caddied for me to take my stuff back upwind and most importantly coached me through how to sail the heat well. It’s been my sole dream and objective to win a world title and I’m so happy to prove to everyone that I can’
The forecast tomorrow is for light wind and the first possible start has been fixed at 10.30.
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