by Ed Sinclair
PWA Aruba Hi Winds Grand Slam 2011 day seven held in more perfect conditions.
Aruba the perfect cruising location - Aruba Hi Winds Grand Slam 2011
The sailors awoke to another day in paradise. The sun blazed down onto the Fisherman’s Huts and the trade winds returned to full strength providing wind between 15-20 knots, perfect for another standout day of slalom.
Race director Juan Antonio Aragon scheduled a mammoth day of competition seeing two more eliminations furiously fought out on the glistening waters, and all but the finals of a further elimination completed.
The PWA caught up with Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / Mystic), to find out his thoughts on Aruba’s playground.
'The conditions are great, the water is warm and the weather is amazing. I have used the same equipment every day, my 8.6m sail and 107 liter board with a 41cm fin. We have sailed the same course each time so all the sailors are used to it, making the racing really exciting. This is an outstanding location for slalom'.
An electrifying day saw emotions running high as the sailors gave it everything they had to work their way around the racecourse.
Fanny Aubet (JP / NeilPryde) was overjoyed to have won her first ever winners final, having displayed an outstanding set of polished skills defeating current event leader, Karin Jaggi (Patrik /Severne) and local legend Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic).
Taty Frans (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic) continues to prove he has what it takes to make it on the slalom tour, steaming into the winner’s final on his 6.6 meter sail. Frans has been labeled the ‘wasp that won’t go away’ by the rest of the fleet as he continues to perform outstanding gybes stealing the top spots from the world’s best.
Offringa scores her third bullet, putting her in an ever stronger position to upset the top spot and claim her second win on her home turf.
Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / Dunkerbeck Eyewear) made a fatal mistake in the men’s elimination 6 winners final. Heading out to the wrong mark and then crashing in an attempt to rectify his mistake. Dunkerbeck lost out on the race win and potentially the event lead.
Consistent performer Pieter Bijl (JP / NeilPryde) fell victim to another premature start, early into the men’s fifth elimination taking his record up to four in the event so far.
An explosive start for the men’s final as Taty Frans (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic) and Finian Maynard (RRD) pushed hard for the front of the fleet, resulting in a premature start and their disqualification.
The remaining six sailors were fuelled with adrenaline for the second start. In an attempt to take advantage of the reduced fleet Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde) and Pascal Toselli (RRD / Point-7) pushed ahead, but both sailors timed it fractionally wrong and crossed the line early and were consequently disqualified from the final.
In the third attempt to start the race, Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra) give it everything he had at the start in order to go for the victory but it was his turn to fall victim to his own eagerness, leaving just three remaining sailors for the remaining showdown.
Guaranteed a top three finish the remaining sailors made sure they had a clean start. Dunkerbeck was fastest out of the blocks and edged ahead of Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Fanatic / North) and Antoine Questel (Loft), however a rare mistake from the multiple World Champion saw him speed off towards the wrong mark. Costa Hovel seized the opportunity and sailed straight into first place. In an attempt to catch Costa Hovel, Questel flew into the second gybe but lost control seeing him go down, providing Dunkerbeck with an opportunity to catch up. Costa Hoevel held his ground for the remained of the race, whilst Questel and Dunkerbeck battled it out for second and third. The crowds on the beach were ecstatic with the action as Costs Hoevel claimed his first bullet and Questel held of Dunkerbeck who was obviously furious with his costly error.
The next winner’s final was a much more efficient affair. Albeau opened the race with an initial lead around the first mark, but Dunkerbeck wasn’t going to let him have it so easy. Burning down the second leg Dunkerbeck overtook Albeau and continued to charge his way further in front of the fleet. Down the pack Jimmy Diaz (Starboard / North) and Van Der Steen battled it out for third and fourth place seeing Diaz snatch third by a whisker. Dunkerbeck cleaned up in this elimination ensuring the points sit extremely close at the top and everything will come down to the final day of competition.
French slalom specialist Fanny Aubet (JP / NeilPryde) displayed an outstanding set of racing skills during the women’s winner finals. Aubet opened the race with a blinding start followed by a perfect collection of slick gybes and blistering board speed down the straights. Aubet secured her first race win holding first from start to finish. Disaster struck for Jaggi in the winner’s final as she failed to stick her opening gybe taking Colette Guadagnino (JP / NeilPryde) down in the process.
Disappointed with her previous performance Jaggi stormed the start of the second final closely followed by Offringa. Out of nowhere Cagla Kubat (Starboard / North) managed to cut underneath the two off them to lead at the first mark but her flat out speed wasn’t enough to fend off Offringa or Jaggi who overtook the Turkish celebrity by the third mark. In the ensuing battle, Jaggi tried to cut upwind leaving Offringa with her dirty wind, but when it came to the gybe Offringa spotted her line early and came out fully planing allowing her, to distance herself from the rest of the fleet and secure a well-earned first place.
1st Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde)
2nd Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / Dunkerbeck Eyewear)
3rd Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / Mystic)
4th Gonzalo Cost Hoevel (Fanatic / North)
5th Finian Maynard (RRD)
1st Karin Jaggi (Patrik / Severne)
2nd Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic)
3rd Fanny Aubet (JP / NeilPryde)
4th Alice Arutkin (Starboard / North)
5th Lena Erdil (Patrik / Loft / AL360)
Another perfect forecast is lined up for the final day of competition; the action will kick off with the final rounds from elimination 7.
Aruba Hi Winds Grand Slam website
PWA World Tour website