Vietnam PWA Grand Slam - Following the frustration of the two previous windless days, all hopes boiled down to the competition’s final day to deliver suitable conditions for the racers to take to the water. With a mediocre forecast and talk of pressure systems interfering with the local thermal effect, the outlook looked bleak.
Roll on 10.30am, and the trusty Mui Ne thermal breeze was back in full effect, teeing up a climactic final day of slalom competition in winds gusting up to 25 knots. Opening the action was the men’s winners final from race one, which was won in convincing fashion by Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic) after he took the lead at the first gybe mark, with Sylvain Moussilmani in second (Tabou / Simmer), and Steven Allen (Starboard Severne) in third. Also completed was the women’s losers’ final which was won by Lena Erdil (Patrik / Loft / Mystic), to finish race one.
The second slalom elimination saw upset for both Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / North) who false started, and Finian Maynard (RRD), who both failed to qualify for the final, leaving them to battle it out in the losers final for eleventh position.
In the winners final, it was business as usual for Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde) at the front of the fleet, with Dunkerbeck in hot pursuit in second, and a strong performance from Spaniard Ludo Jossin (Starboard / Loft) in third. The heavyweight losers’ final was won by Josh Angulo (Angulo / Gun), with Maynard recovering to take second, and Pieter Bijl (JP / NeilPryde) in third.
In the women’s second race, Karin Jaggi (Severne / Patrik) rose to the challenge to take a convincing elimination victory ahead of Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic), who was beginning to seriously threaten taking the top spot, and a consistent Alice Arutkin (Starboard / North) in third.
Moving into the men’s third elimination, the drama really began to unfold when Dunkerbeck was taken down on the start line by a catapulting Cedric Bordes (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic), crushing his chances of making the winners final. Also stumbling, Maynard uncharacteristically stuttered for a second time when he missed out on qualifying for the winners final by one position.
The men’s winners final saw yet more of Albeau’s methodical work as he once again dominated the fleet to notch up his second elimination win of the event. In his wake, the Netherlands Peter Volwater (Fanatic / MauiSails) sailed a near text book heat to award him second position, and Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde) make amends for his previous eighteenth and tenth position finishes with a solid third in the race.
The losers final saw yet more bad luck for Dunkerbeck who crashed en route to the start line and snapped his mast, ruling him out of the heat. Following suit, Australia’s Steve Allen (Starboard / Severne) also came unstuck in the super choppy Mui Ne conditions, taking him out the running, leaving Benoit Moussilmani (Tabou / Simmer) to capitalize on his opponents mistakes and secure victory.
The women’s third elimination saw Offringa continue her run of form right through to the winners final, where she pieced together a stunning heat to award her victory ahead of Turkey’s Lena Erdil (Patrik / Loft / Mystic), who was looking like she’d found her form after posting a disappointing ninth and eighth in the previous eliminations, leaving World Champion Jaggi in third.
The final race elimination of the day stood poised to deliver some seriously intense race action, as the men’s event title lay wide open for numerous challengers to make their bid. Things got even more heated when the number one challenger for the event title, Albeau, fell during his semi final, placing him in the losers final and his title hopes at the mercy of Dunkerbeck’s performance in the winners final.
Following a scramble to get a calculator and compute exactly what implications Albeau’s fall would have on his event title hopes, it was deducted that if Dunkerbeck finished eighth or above, he’d steal the title from Albeau, ninth or lower, and Albeau secured it for himself.
Cue arguably the most exciting race final witnessed in recent years, as the normally collected Dunkerbeck had a catastrophic error and went down mid race, placing him at the back of the fleet, and leaving Albeau rubbing his hands together. But, never rule the terminator out the running; Dunkerbeck proceeded to systematically rein in eighth place, leaving a final charge to the finish line between him and Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Fanatic / North).
With barely inches in the call, Dunkerbeck had secured the vital eighth position, in turn handing him the event title, and early season lead ahead of Albeau.
The winners final was won by Maynard, his best result of the event, with Cyril Moussilmani in second, and Jimmy Diaz (Starboard / North), who rounded off a consistent performance in third, securing him third overall for the event. The subsequent losers final was taken by Albeau, who was no doubt reeling from his previous semi final crash.
The women’s final elimination saw Offringa cement her reputation as a serious slalom World Title contender when she scooped another race victory, ahead of Jaggi in second, and Morane Demont (Starboard / Severne) in third, handing her the event victory by a comprehensive points margin. The women’s losers final marked the final heat of the event, which was won by France’s Delphine Cousin (JP / NeilPryde). The 2011 Vietnam PWA Grand Slam Final Standings: Men’s Slalom
First Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic)
Second Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde)
Third Jimmy Diaz (Starboard / North)
Fourth Ludovic Jossin (Starboard / Loft)
Fifth Steve Allen (Starboard / Severne) The 2011 Vietnam PWA Grand Slam Final Standings: Women’s Slalom
First Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic)
Second Karin Jaggi (Patrik / Severne)
Third Alice Arutkin (Starboard / North)
Fourth Morane Demont (Starboard / Severne)
Fifth Lena Erdil (Patrik / Loft / Mystic)
The PWA circus now moves onto Austria, where the men’s freestyle fleet will take to the waters of Lake Neusiedler from the 29 April - 4 May 2011.
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