Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam
For the 6th consecutive day, Fuerteventura delivered howling winds, which saw the men reaching for their 5.2m-5.6m sails and small boards as many of them struggled to stay in control. Over the course of the opening day of slalom, Fuerte’s death chop claimed numerous victims and will likely claim many more over the next 4 days, but one man who didn’t struggle is 23-time world champion - Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) - who finishes the day as the clear event leader after a brilliant display.
Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) will be very happy with his opening days work in Fuerteventura after making a superb start which saw the 23-time world champion record one bullet and a solid second to take control of the event rankings from the word go. AA dominated this event here in 2016 and the early signs are that if the ferocious winds continue then he could well do the same again. Many sailors look out of control, but Albeau is making taming the choppy Fuerte waters look simple and almost effortless.
Albeau’s two biggest rivals Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails / Chopper Fins) and Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Point-7 / Shamal Sunglasses) both suffered earlier exits than they’d have liked the opening race with Mortefon struggling with his gybing in the semifinals and having to settle for 14th place, but the biggest upset of the day involved the reigning world champion, who was knocked out in his first heat of the event - 3rd Round. However, both bounced back in Elimination 2 to steady the ship with Mortefon securing his first bullet of the week, while Iachino finished 3rd, which leaves Mortefon 6th after Day 1, while Iachino is currently in a lowly 18th.
As mentioned in the preview Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic / Shamal Sunglasses) holds an excellent record in Fuerte over the last couple of seasons and the Brit has made another strong start with a 4th and 5th place. However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Williams after going down at the opening mark in his second semifinal, but he did brilliantly to fight his way back as he somehow avoided Pascal Toselli (99NoveNove / Loft Sails / Chopper Fins) who went down at the last, to book his place in another winners’ final.
Julien Quentel (Patrik / Avanti) has had moments of brilliance - winning in Japan - mixed with moments of mediocracy - Costa Brava - but today he was back to somewhere near his best which sees him complete the current event top 3. The 30-year-old finished second in the opening race before limiting the damage after narrowly missing out on the winners’ final by winning Heat 15 to claim 9th.
Both Ben van der Steen (Patrik / Gun Sails) and Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA Sails) have made much needed excellent starts to the event as they currently languish 20th and 25th in the overall rankings when you’d really expect to see them pushing for the top 10 and beyond. At the close of play on day one they sit in 4th and 5th place respectively after qualifying for both winners’ finals.
Cyril Moussilmani (99NoveNove / Severne), Ingmar Daldorf (Tabou / GA Sails) and Alexandre Cousin (Patrik / GA Sails / Chopper Fins) occupy 7-9th after all three sailors qualified for the top 16 on both occasions today.
Brazil’s Gabriel Browne (Goya Windsurfing / Point-7) made a flying start in the opening race as he clinched a superb 3rd place but then suffered a quarterfinal exit to finish Day 1 of the slalom 10th overall.
Elsewhere, Taty Frans (Starboard / GA Sails / Mystic) sits just outside the top 10, while Enrico Marotti (RRD / NeilPryde) sailed brilliantly in the opening elimination to secure 4th place before he jumped the gun, along with Basile Jacquin (Starboard / Point-7), Josh Angulo (Angulo / Gun Sails) and Steve Allen (Patrik / Severne) in Heat 11 to be eliminated in the quarters.
The forecast looks like the wind could be slightly lighter tomorrow, which many may consider to be a blessing after a brutal first day. The skippers’ meeting has been called for 10am tomorrow morning with the action commencing from 11am (GMT+1) onwards. Make sure you tune into www.pwaworldtour.com to follow all of the racing as it happens via the PWA live stream.
To stay up to date with all the latest developments from Fuerteventura — including the live stream, elimination ladders, entry list, images and live ticker simply click HERE and scroll to the bottom of the page.
Current Ranking Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam - Men’s Slalom
*After 2 Eliminations
1st Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde)
2nd Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic / Shamal Sunglasses)
3rd Julien Quentel (Patrik / Avanti)
4th Ben van der Steen (Patrik / Gun Sails)
5th Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA Sails)
6th Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails / Chopper Fins)
7th Cyril Moussilmani (99NoveNove / Severne)
8th Ingmar Daldorf (Tabou / GA Sails)
9th Alexandre Cousin (Patrik / GA Sails / Chopper Fins)
10th Gabriel Browne (Goya Windsurfing / Point-7)