The 2004 Nestea PWA Almanarre Hyeres World Cup – Day 6
Tantalizingly close conditions maintain suspense up until the last minute but tour leaders hold out for glory.
Weather forecasters had not predicted much in the way of wind for today and, yet again, burning blue skies and warm sunshine had made it seem more like August than October. As the sun glinted of the turquoise Mediterranean waters, it was impossible for the waiting sailors and spectators to not begin to contemplate the ramifications of a no more wind scenario. If there were no more racing, Antoine Albeau (AHD, Neil Pryde) and Allison Shreeve would, in just a few hours, become the new 2004 Nestea PWA World Windsurf Racing Tour Champions.
By 11.00 it seemed clear that the final day of this year’s tour would be spent basking in sunshine. The local climate had other ideas however and by 11.30, the wind had picked up to a promising 6 – 12 knots. By noon, the course was set and a start scheduled for 12.15. The relaxed atmosphere of the beach was shattered as competitors realized that the game was far from played out.
At 12.21 the green flag shot up for the start of race 7, only to be replaced seconds later by the general recall flag as the start was recalled due to premature starters. With the guilty parties dispatched back to the beach, the sequence began again only to be recalled once more because of further premature offenders. Eventually the fleet slipped cleanly over the line and the race was on for real.
By the windward mark, it was Devon Boulon (F2) leading the hungry pack, each one of them releasing their pent up frustration all over the glistening ocean. Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (F2, Neil Pryde) rounded windward in second ahead of Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra), Micah Buzianis (F2, North Sails) and Andrea Cucchi (Starboard). As the women’s fleet crossed the line, luck finally ran out and the race had to be abandoned. It was back to the waiting game for the would be champions to see what hand France would finally deal them.
With bright sunshine, light winds and thousands of people on the beach, a full fleet slalom race (purely for fun) was scheduled for 15.00 whilst everybody waited for more consistent conditions. A simple figure 8 course was set and the fifty or so competitors started together, blasting across the line. After a fantastic start there was a real battle between Boulon, Albeau and Steve Allen (Fanatic, Neil Pryde). Albeau led after 1 lap, but by the time the front runners were approaching the finish line, Boulon had taken the lead and extended it considerably beating Albeau convincingly.
It was not a defeat that would bother the massive Frenchman though, as during the fun race, the final event of this year’s PWA World Tour had officially come to a close. Antoine Albeau had become the first French PWA Racing Champion and Allison Shreeve had won her first championship in her rookie year.
The 2004 Nestea PWA World Windsurf Racing Tour has seen action from the hot sandy beaches of Gran Canaria, to the sheltered lakesides of Hungary before moving on to the turbulent waters of the North Sea at Sylt in Germany and finally the sun drenched shores of the South of France here at L’Almanarre. From day one competition has been tight and going into the final here in France, the top 3 men and women all easily within reach of the title.
Allen and Albeau were completely indivisible, both in joint first, with Pritchard close behind in third. On the women’s side Shreeve, Lucy Horwood (Fanatic, North Sails) and Dorota Staszewska (Starboard, Gaastra) were all within easy reach of the title. Albeau dominated the final event from day one, effectively sewing up the title race in the opening days racing, but in contrast, Shreeve appeared to have squandered her chances after the first four races leaving the door open for Horwood to steal the title. In the end however, both the ranking leaders held their nerve and did enough to become the new, 2004 Nestea PWA World Windsurf Racing Tour Champions.
The PWA Tour takes a break now after a season that has seen it travel to 8 different countries for a total of thirteen events. The 2005 season will kick off in style at the 2005 London Boat Show, which will host a $75,000 indoor contest to jump start the windsurfing year in January. In the meantime stay tuned to www.pwaworldtour.com for all the latest windsurfing developments over the winter months.
For the sailors eye view check out www.devonboulon.com..
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