Antoine Albeau and Valerie Ghibaudo are crowned as the 2009 Costa Brava Champions, both taking decisive wins to establish their positions at the top of the PWA Slalom World Tour. Despite an unfavourable forecast Costa Brava delivered wind to provide a full round of slalom for both men’s and women’s fleets.
Action began instantly as the thermal sea breeze kick started the event on day one. Two heats were held on a giant four-gybe slalom course. The huge reaches leading to spectacular speed battles as sailors topped 30kts, a real test of strength and equipment.
From the outset it looked like all the major players meant business, with all the top seeds advancing easily into the quarter finals along with un-seeded standout “sailor of the day” Damien Le Guen of France.
In the quarterfinals the competition started to heat up with the standard jumping through the roof. The difficult light and gusty winds meant any mistakes were cruelly punished. Kevin Pritchard was the first big name to fall when his outhaul rope exploded, leaving his title hopes floating in the Mediterranean.
The much anticipated winner’s final saw a thrilling conclusion to Race 1. Off the start it was Steve Allen that took control and arrived at the first gybe in first place by half a board length. Right on his tail were Micah Buzianis and Antoine Albeau – both attacking for that number one slot. Antoine muscled his way through the gybe, exiting in a dominant position. Meanwhile as the three fought to hold their ranking, Ross Williams capitalised on the battle, sailing high, keeping out of trouble and then moved into attack position on the outside gybe approach. Antoine held onto first, Williams moved into 2nd and Allen just about held off Buzianis out and out challenge to take 3rd.
The women´s final was a more traditional affair with Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou/The Loft) and Karin Jaggi both fighting it out for the top spot. A minor starting error from Karin opened the door for Valerie and she made no mistake taking advantage dominating the race from start to finish.
No wind on day 3 gave sailors time to reflect, but they were back in action by day 4 as the afternoon wind switched back on. With the tension building for the semi finals, the wind was already starting to back off, making for some of the most testing conditions so far this year. Consistency was rewarded and mistakes punished.
The waiting game was the name of days 5 and 6. Despite promising forecasts the wind teased the competitors, hovering around the minimum throughout the weekend.
The final day of the 2009 PWA Costa Brava World Cup summarised the frustrating week of waiting. With a solid forecast, all hope was for one last blast of action to cap off the event with some late drama.
Williams started the day, sitting in the nasty position of having everything to lose and nothing to gain. Competition could only mean one thing for the English high flyer: Having already lost his semi final heat the previous day, one more completed heat would have seen him drop from 2nd to 8th. Fortunately for the British racer, despite numerous attempts to finish the second round, race director Juan Antonio Aragon eventually was forced to call it a day in failing conditions.
1st Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde)
2nd Ross Williams (Tabou/Gaastra)
3rd Steve Allen
4th Micah Buzianis (JP/NeilPryde)
5th Jimmy Diaz (Starboard/North Sails)
6th Finian Maynard (RRD/NeilPryde)
7th Peter Volwater (F2/MauiSails)
8th Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard/Severne)
9th Robby Swift (JP/NeilPryde)
10th Sylvain Moussilmani (Starboard/Simmer Style)
1st Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou/The Loft)
2nd Karin Jaggi (F2/Severne)
3rd Marta Hlavaty (Starboard/MauiSails)
4th Sarah Hebert (Starboard/Naish)
5th Lise Vidal (Exocet/North Sails)