Fuerteventura Grand Slam
The spectators lining Sotavento’s beautiful beach were awarded with some world-class racing on day four of the competition following a gruelling five hours on standby for the sailors.
With all of the signs present that the usually consistent trade winds would kick in, the competitors were at the event site early, preparing their gear for battle. However, a competing breeze put the competition on hold for much of the day, allowing the fans to mingle with the PWA’s stars until the wind began to build late in the afternoon.
With 14 to 20 knots out to sea at 15:30 race director, Juan Antoinio Aragon made the decision to run one full round of frantic slalom. The down wind course was set close to the shore with four gybes to the finish, creating a spectacular site for the crowds lining the beach.
Finian On Form
Throughout the week former speed world title holder, Finian Maynard (RRD, Gaastra) has been one of the most consistent sailors, only falling out of the top 4 in one race. However, he hadn’t quite tasted victory until today.
You could tell Maynard was gunning for glory from the word go with plenty of speed straight out of the blocks. He won every heat by a considerable margin, so when it came to the finals he was more than comfortable at the front of the fleet.
Flying down the first reach at full tilt, it was a three horse race right from the start with Maynard, Micah Buzianis (JP, NeilPryde), and Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne) all heading straight for the mark. Maynard gybed just ahead of Buzianis, with Dunkerbeck right on the American’s tail.
It wasn’t long before Dunkerbeck stepped on the gas and edged out in front of Buzianis, leaving just one sailor between himself and the finish. However, Maynard was in control of the race leaving Dunkerbeck fighting behind. It wasn’t until the last leg that the Terminator went for the gap, hammering off down wind. His efforts were all far too late though, as Maynard powered off into the distance to claim his first well-deserved win of the season.
The 2009 world champion, Antoine Albeau didn’t even have to race his first heat due to the high number of early starters, so it when it came to the quarter finals he was still buzzing with energy. Right from the word go he led his group, leaving those on the beach already writing the history books. However, that was all far too premature because as he rounded mark number three he missed his boom through the gybe causing him to fall in. From first sight it looked like he’d be able to catch up, but Danish racer Kasper Larsen (Starboard, NeilPryde) held his lane and prevented the world champion from going any further.
This slip up hasn’t caused Albeau to lose his overall lead, but it does leave archrival Dunkerbeck as the only sailor to have qualified for every winner’s final so far in this contest, and has also allowed the rest of the group to close the gap.
Stand Out Sailors
As well as Maynard and Dunkerbeck there were a few other sailors that really stepped up their game today on the lighter winds.
The first of these was ‘one man brand’ Patrik Diethelm (Patrik, North). With a top three result in each of his heats, he’s proved that his boards are shaped to perfection, and more than ready to take on the giants. Diethelm’s amazing speed, helped him hit the front of the group, and take him all the way to fourth in the final - an excellent result that’s put him within sniffing distance of the top ten.
Another sailor to be climbing the ranks is Spanish resident, Ludovic Jossin (Starboard, Loft). A cracking set of second place finishes saw him into the winner’s final with ease. But, a less than ideal first part of the race didn’t allow him to reach his full potential. Still, his seventh place will no doubt lift his ranking.
Having held off Albeau, Kasper Larsen also deserves a mention. He made it all the way through to the loser’s final for the second time this week, proving he has what it takes to compete with the PWA’s most established pros.
Results After Nine Races
1st Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde) 12.5pts
2nd Finian Maynard (RRD, Gaastra) 17.7pts
3rd Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne, Mystic) 25.7pts
4th Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard, North) 26.7pts
5th Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra, Dakine) 35pts
6th Ross Williams (Tabou, Gaastra) 42pts
7th Ben Van Der Steen (JP, Mystic) 48pts
8th Micah Buzianis (JP, NeilPryde) 50.7pts
9th Steve Allen (Starboard, Severne) 62pts
10th Jimmy Diaz (Starboard, North) 75pts
There’s a tough battle at the top with just one day left for the racers before the freestylers take over. The forecast for tomorrow is similar to today’s so there’s every possibility that we’ll witness more out of this world action before the trophies are handed out.
Keep in the groove
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