The opening five days of the PWA Fuerteventura Grand Slalm hosted the slalom event, which culminated in quite possibly the best race that has ever been seen on the PWA Circuit. Antoine Albeau flew out of the blocks with a fantastic start. On the opening day, he stormed through the pack to win three out of the four races. The wind never dropped below 30 knots, and the great Frenchman used all his strength to his advantage, charging past his world-class contenders with ease.
His victory was well-deserved, and nothing came easy for the defending champion, who had to fight his way from the back of the fleet after a number of gybe-mark tangles. In one instance, he showed such speed that he made his way from eighth to second in two reaches, overtaking four sailors in a flat out speed battle.
After such consistency by Albeau, the event soon turned into a battle for the podium positions. Finian Maynard took charge, with a string of excellent results, including a victory in the penultimate heat. Maynard is famous for his blistering speed, and he did not disappoint, often leading the race from the start line.
His main contender throughout the event was the incredibly talented Kevin Pritchard, whose steady nerve and well-honed tactics have proven to be so successful in the past. Pritchard took a win in race six, where he out sailed the entire fleet. The battle between Pritchard and Maynard never went further than a couple of points difference, however a poor result in the final race confirmed a third place position for the American, and allowed Maynard to slip through to second.
Always in the running, the great Cyril Moussilmani continued to pressurize the fleet with his relentless ability to make his way into the elite top few. Continuing to rise in the overall rankings, Moussilmani will be focusing on a solid performance in the lighter winds of Turkey to help him into the overall top five.
Micah Buzianis, Ross Williams, Bjorn Dunkerbeck and Josh Angulo all took prestigious race wins here. Each of these sailors showed glimmers of excellence throughout the event. Speed was no problem, as all four often blasted through the pack, but to win an event as grueling as this, nothing but the best will ever be rewarded, and ultimately it was their consistency that let them down.
Drama struck on the third day, after Josh Angulo was catapulted on the finish line in his semi final. Angulo had led the fleet from the start boat, and was about to cross the finish when disaster struck. Just inches from the line, Angulo catapulted and crossed without his kit, and was therefore disqualified. Understandably, the Cabo Verde local was livid, and harsh words were exchanged on the beach. However, the decision stood, and he was forced into the losers final. This result affected his overall position quite noticeably, as Angulo otherwise looked on form here. The current number one in the waves will have to put all this behind him, as he looks ahead to the remainder of the year.
The slalom contest came to an end on a dramatic high. In the final race Nr. 10 of the event, the wind switched to an intense off shore gale, allowing a new course to be raced. In the new layout, the start line and opening reach was set just meters off the shoreline, so the spectators could see every ounce of action on the water incredibly close to the beach.
This set-up provided an astonishing spectacle, and Albeau’
s 15ft victory jump over the boat was a fitting end to the racing. The intimacy of the racecourse, and the style in which the Champion claimed his victory, will have sealed the race in the minds of all the spectators who were lucky enough to be there.
1. Antoine Albeau
2. Finian Maynard
3. Kevin Pritchard
4. Cyril Moussilmani
5. Micah Buzianis
6. Ross Williams
7. Björn Dunkerbeck
8. Peter Volwater
9. Josh Angulo
10. Patrick Diethelm
… full result
Text: © PWA / David Swift