by Chris Yates
The wind returned with a vengeance on day four of the Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam, hosted by René Egli, as winds of 25-35 knots howled across Sotavento to produce the most exhilarating racing of the year. Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) was on fire today as he claimed two victories out of the three eliminations completed to storm to the top of the event rankings, whilst Ben Van Der Steen (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic) clinched his first victory of the week in race four.
Toselli goes down - 2014 PWA Fuerteventura Grand Slam
The first winners’ final of the day started under dramatic circumstances as both Arnon Dagan (RRD / NeilPryde) and Finian Maynard (RRD / Avanti) jumped the gun to be disqualified. Upon the restart Josh Angulo (Angulo / Gun Sails) made the best start of the fleet, but a flying Ben Van Der Steen had burst into the lead by the opening mark. The Dutchman maintained his blistering pace to extend his lead over the remainder of the course and he was soon celebrating his first bullet of the week. Behind him Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North) turned on the afterburners on the final straight to beat Angulo to second place, whilst Pascal Toselli (Starboard / Point-7) completed the top four after managing to overtake Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Loft Sails) and Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / MFC).
Earlier in the fourth race, heat twelve saw a photo finish as Gonzalo Costa Hoevel, Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic) and Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde) all battled for the final two qualifying positions. At the penultimate gybe it looked as though Quentel and Williams were comfortably advancing, but a rampaging Costa Hoevel soon put his name into the equation. As the trio raced down the final straight their was just a few metres between them as they crossed the finish line and unfortunately Quentel was the man to miss out on the semifinals.
The second winners’ final also need two attempts to be completed after Josh Angulo mistimed his start to be disqualified from heat sixteen. Reigning PWA World Champion - Antoine Albeau - sailed the perfect heat as he led from start to finish to clinch his first victory of the event, but more importantly also saw the big Frenchman move to the top of the leaderboard by half a point over Pascal Toselli. Ben Van Der Steen was able to back up his earlier success with a solid second place ahead of Julien Quentel and Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne), who finished in third and fourth respectively.
Four In a line - 2014 PWA Fuerteventura Grand Slam
Today was clearly Bruno Martini’s (RRD / RRD) lucky day. The Italian suffered a broken mast just a few minutes before his opening heat, but still managed to advance after Kasper Larsen (Starboard / Loft Sails), Damien Le Guen (Exocet) and Aron Etmon (Starboard / Severne / Dunkerbeck Eyewear) all jumped the gun to give Martini, Josh Angulo, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Chris Benz / Dunkerbeck Eyewear) and Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA Sails) byes into the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Matteo Iachino (Fanatic / North) made an incredible recovery in heat ten as he battled his way back from seventh place at the opening gybe to clinch fourth place after a photo finish with Antoine Questel (Starboard / Loft Sails.)
The door was thrown wide open for Antoine Albeau in the sixth race as both Pascal Toselli and Ben Van Der Steen failed to qualify for the winners’ final. Prior to this the duo were sat in second and third place, only half a point and a point behind Albeau, respectively. Albeau actually looked as though he too would be taking an early exit after dropping his opening gybe in the quarterfinals, but remarkably managed to claw his way back from seventh place at the first mark to fourth by the penultimate gybe after showing incredible straight line speed and text book gybes.
Antoine Albeau consolidated his place at the top of the event rankings in the last winner’s final of the day. However, it wasn’t plain sailing for Albeau as he entered the first gybe in fourth place behind Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde), who flew down the opening straight to obtain the lead ahead of Micah Buzianis (JP / MauiSails) and Bjorn Dunkerbeck. Albeau stepped on the gas though and broke into the lead by the second mark, a position he wouldn’t relinquish, which now gives him a comfortable lead at the top. Behind him there was plenty of drama as Buzianis was taken out by Ludovic Jossin (Patrik / Loft Sails) at the third, allowing Pierre Mortefon and Ross Williams to move up to the third and fourth with Quentel claiming his best result so far - second.
The seventh elimination was started, but the wind became more inconsistent during the early evening meaning only the first five heats could be completed. With the wind showing no signs of improving the sailors were released at twenty past six after an incredible day of racing. The forecast predicts further wind for tomorrow, but slightly lighter than today. The skippers’ meeting has been called for 10am tomorrow morning with the action commencing from 10:30am.
Mousilmani and Bordes collide - 2014 PWA Fuerteventura Grand Slam
Light hearted fun for Jossin - 2014 PWA Fuerteventura Grand Slam
Mark two pile up - 2014 PWA Fuerteventura Grand Slam
Maynard goes down - 2014 PWA Fuerteventura Grand Slam
Into the first mark - 2014 PWA Fuerteventura Grand Slam
Results after Elimination Six Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam:
1st Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde)
2nd Pascal Toselli (Starboard / Point-7)
3rd Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North)
4th Ben Van Der Steen (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic)
5th Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne)
PWA World Tour