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30.07.2011 - by: Ed Sinclair

Fuerteventura Grand Slam

Day eight: Forty knots of wind hammered Sotavento beach for the third day of racing, providing epic survival conditions for the PWA slalom elite.

Full throttle slalom between the marks, dangerous gybes, explosive crashes and insane aerials, the third day off racing had it all. The spectators on the beach were treated to an incredibly exciting show and mind-blowing display of slalom talent as the world’s finest racers did battle in the crazy conditions. Forty-knot winds mixed with the rolling swell and choppy waters provided the sailors with some of the most extreme racing conditions they have experienced all season.

The race crew wasted no time in raising the red flag, ensuring the first heat was underway at 10:30am sharp. Racing continued throughout the day seeing two more eliminations completed and the opening round of elimination six.

Elimination four

Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / DunkerbeckEyewear) opened up the days racing with a blistering show of speed, charging his way down the first leg as if he was going for the world speed record and leaving the rest of the fleet in his wake.

Disaster struck for Dunkerbeck in the second round of the elimination. Dunkerbeck was leading at the first mark, fighting off all advances from Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / Mystic) but at the second mark he failed to hold his gybe, went down and dropped into sixth place. Dunkerbeck wasted no time clawing his way back through the fleet but then he made the same mistake at the fourth gybe, seeing him finish in last, meaning an early exit from the elimination.

Reveling in the stronger winds, Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde), and Finian Maynard (RRD) displayed an incredible set of skills, leading the charge in their races throughout the day.

The semi-finals brought out some super technical sailing from Jimmy Diaz (Starboard / North). Josh Angulo (Angulo / Gun / Dakine) held the qualifying position throughout the whole race until the final mark when Diaz chose the prefect line to undercut him. Diaz made it round the gybe and quickly pulled the power back on. The final leg was a drag race to the finish with Diaz claiming his spot in the winners’ final by a board length.

A similar set of skill from Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins) saw him work his way from fifth position to second place with three slick gybes undercutting the rest of the fleet with every turn, and earning his place in the winners’ final.

Winner’s final

Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde) continued with his winning streak, claiming his third elimination and increasing his lead on the rest of the fleet. An incredible start saw Albeau hit the start line on the buzzer and gain the advantage from the word go. Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / North), Buzianis and Maynard were in hot pursuit; however they were unable to match Albeau’s board speed over the rough choppy water. At the final mark Albeau was well over fifty meters in front of the fleet allowing him to cruise down the final leg comfortably over the finish line.

Elimination five

The wind was blowing around thirty-five knots for the opening round of the fifth elimination. The sailors were on their smallest equipment and still barely able to hold on. Spray flying everywhere, pile-ups at the marks and crazy speed made for an eventful first round.

The finest starts of the day came from Jesper Orth (RRD); the Danish sailor who resides in Australia nailed the start of each race and made sure he was the first man over the line. Orth made it through the opening rounds of the eliminations; however he was unable to match the straight line speed the other sailors were able to achieve.

Having had a slow start to heat ten Taty Frans stole the show, he was blessed by the wind gods as his opponents dropped like flies in front of him. Frans was able to charge into the lead, but it didn’t last long as Volwater  (Fanatic / MauiSails) and Steve Allen (Starboard / Severne) were coming back with a vengeance. The race boiled down to the final mark, Frans managed to squeeze in on the inside of pair and return to full speed. Frans finished the race with an enormous floaty jump over the line.

Buzianis and Volwater continued their charge through the eliminations, enjoying the super-strong winds, the pair dominated in every race claiming podium positions all the way to the winners’ final.

Winners’ final

An exhilarating race saw Van Der Steen claim his first elimination in Fuerteventura. Peter Volwater hit the start line on form, charging ahead of the rest of the fleet, followed by, Van Der Steen, Albeau and Buzianis. Meanwhile, Bjorn Dunkerbeck suffered at the start and he was caught behind the rest of the fleet unable to pass. At the first mark Albeau lost control of his equipment and went down allowing Van Der Steen, Volwater and Cyril Moussilmani the advantage. Van Der Steen turned on his turbo-chargers for the remainder of the race to gain some ground ahead of the rest of the fleet and take the win. Albeau and Dunkerbeck were fighting to recover their positions, but it was too little too late, as they finished in seventh and fourth place respectively.

Elimination six

With the wind still howling, the race crew quickly had the sailors back in sequence for the opening round of the sixth elimination. A slick set of heats saw most of the big names advance into the next round.

Diaz continued to wow the crowds with his textbook sailing, working his way from fifth place into first with two smooth gybes and a final burst of speed down the final leg.

The big upset of the round saw Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde) miss out on a qualifying position. Quentel opened the heat with a perfect start, but lost control at the first mark and he was unable to recover his position.

The race crew made the decision to release the sailors at 4pm, in order to relax and rest for tomorrows racing. There is another monster forecast lined up for tomorrow, the skippers’ meeting will kick off at 10:30am with the first possible start to racing at 11am.

Results (After 5 eliminations)

1st Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde)
2nd Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / Mystic)
3rd Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / North)
4th Peter Volwater (Fanatic / MauiSails)
5th Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / DunkerbeckEyewear)
6th Finian Maynard (RRD)
7th Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde)
8th Sylvain Moussilmani (Tabou / Simmer)
9th Benoit Moussilmani (Tabou / Simmer)
10th Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde)

Scope the action

For more information on all the entrants, and to keep up to date with every piece of the action, click on www.pwaworldtour.com

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