PWA Sotavento Fuerteventura Grand Slam day 9.
The howling winds continued to batter the fifty-six man slalom fleet for the second day running, testing the sailors to the edge of their ability as they battled their way through each race. The insane conditions allowed the race crew to kick off the action from 10:30am and to fly through three more eliminations in quick succession.
With thirty-five knots of wind howling across the race course, race director Juan Antonio Aragon decided to mix things up a little for the sailors. The race crew quickly re-aligned the buoys so that the course opened up with a four hundred meter speed run followed by four downwind slalom marks. The change in the course brought with it, edge of your seat action as the sailors picked up incredible speeds and fought hard to control their equipment down the opening leg.
Picking up the race where we left off yesterday, round two of the elimination saw the hottest sailors of the day on fine form. Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / North), Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde), Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde), Finian Maynard (RRD), Cedric Bordes (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic) and Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra) charge their way around the course to secure podium positions and pass into the semi-finals.
An over enthusiastic start to heat twelve, saw four sailors hit the start line before the buzzer. Andrea Cucchi (Patrik / Point-7), Ludovic Jossin (Loft), Kurosh Kiani (Angulo / Simmer) and Ertugrul Icingir (RRD / North) all make their way back to the beach with their heads down, while the rest of the sailors made their way into the semi-finals without having to race.
Eager to push the start, Maynard went over early in heat thirteen and had to settle for a place in the losers’ final. Once the race was up and running it brought with it more drama as Jules Denel (Exocet), Josh Angulo (Angulo / Gun / Dakine) and Buzianis were all caught out by the testing conditions and went down in huge individual crashes. Buzianis managed to cover his mistakes with his impressive board speed and recovered into a qualifying position.
The action continued into heat fourteen, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / DunkerbeckEyewear) opened the race with a fantastic start, however on his 6.2m sail he was well over-powered and unable to keep his speed in the gybes. It wasn’t long before Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / /Mystic) took advantage raising his position from sixth to third. To top it all off Bordes came out of nowhere and performed two particularly slick gybes on the inside of the fleet pushing Dunkerbeck out of a qualifying position.
Albeau performed the perfect start in the winners’ final leaving the rest of the fleet in his wake on the speed run. Cyril Moussilmani was trying everything to match his board speed but Albeau was too far ahead. Further down the fleet, Bordes and Arnon Dagan (Tabou / Gaastra) had a collision at the first mark, putting them at the back of the pack. Van Der Steen sailed an incredible race working his way past his opponents to finish in third. Albeau cruised over the finish line well aware that he was over one hundred meters ahead of the rest.
With the wind still raging, the race crew continued directly into elimination seven. Collisions, pile ups and catapults on the straights made the first round of the races particularly exciting, although most of the big names easily secured their qualifying positions and advanced into the next round.
Van Der Steen and Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins) were the ones to watch in the second round of the elimination. Both sailors displayed incredible speed down the straights and mind-blowing control on the corners as they undercut the rest of the fleet to earn their qualifying positions.
Some of the finest starts of the day came from Germany’s Gunnar Asmussen (F2 / North). Asmussen stormed ahead of the fleet and made sure he hit the mark first in every race. However Asmussen struggled with at the gybes allowing the rest of the fleet to take advantage.
Two smooth semi-finals allowed the big guns to enter the winners’ final without out any upsets, Cyril Moussilmani continued with his textbook high wind sailing to win first place, whilst Dunkerbeck claimed a close second. On the other side of the elimination Albeau nailed his third heat and secured another first, miles ahead of the fleet.
The winners’ final kicked off with Albeau nailing another blinding start, Cyril Moussilmani and Van Der Steen weren’t far behind and they were able to catch him by the first mark. Two smooth gybes later and Albeau was still in control of the fleet, Cyril Moussilmani and Van Der Steen were trying everything they could to match their experienced opponent. The crowds witnessed a drag race finish between the three, but there was no catching Albeau with his remarkable straight-line speed. Albeau claimed his second victory of the day and his fifth in the competition. By this time it looked like Albeau was in a commanding position but race director Juan Antonio Aragon called for one final race in the afternoon.
After a quick lunch break the slalom elite were back on the water and fighting their way through elimination eight. Having sailed for two days in the relentless wind the sailors were becoming more dialed into the conditions, making for smooth races and faster gybes.
Benoit Moussilmani (Tabou / Simmer) wowed the crowds throughout the afternoon, charging ahead of Buzianis, Dunkerbeck and Peter Volwater (Fanatic / MauiSails) to earn a position in the winners’ final. Having posted consistent places throughout the week Benoit currently sits in seventh position overall.
Heat twelve saw an explosive crash from Angulo. After a great start Angulo was holding onto a qualifying position, disaster struck at the outside mark when he went down and the rest of the fleet flew past. Angulo was unable to recover from his mistake, and he made an early exit from the elimination.
The largest crash of the day came from Albeau in the semi-finals. Albeau lead the charge down the opening leg of the course and looked to be in control but in one split second everything went wrong. Albeau and his equipment went flying and the rest of the pack charged past. Albeau accepted that he was unable to recover from the colossal crash and made his way back to the beach.
After one false start from Van Der Steen, the winners’ final was up and running with Dunkerbeck leading the fleet around the first and second marks. Hot on his heels the Moussilmani brothers Cyril and Benoit were waiting for their opportunity to overtake. Benoit lost control at the third mark putting him out the race, so it was up to Cyril to make his move. Cyril chose his moment on the final gybe mark undercutting Dunkerbeck and then wasted no time in pulling the power back on, knowing he had an enraged tour leader on his tail. The pair drag raced to the finish, trying pulling out all the stops squeeze out every ounce of extra speed. Cyril took the victory by a board length, claiming his second victory in Fuerteventura and enough points to just push him ahead of Albeau on the overall scores.
With three more eliminations completed the sailors were released for the day at four o’clock. Make sure you head over to the PWA website for the dramatic finale to the slalom competition tomorrow. Will Albeau claim the top spot? Will Van Der Steen take control? Will Cyril Moussilmani buckle under the pressure? The skippers’ meeting will kick off at 10am with the first possible start to racing at 10:30 am. Results (After 8 eliminations)
1st Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / North)
2nd Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde)
3rd Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / Mystic)
4th Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / DunkerbeckEyewear)
5th Peter Volwater (Fanatic / MauiSails)
6th Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde)
7th Benoit Moussilmani (Tabou / Simmer)
8th Finian Maynard (RRD)
9th Cedric Bordes (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic)
10th Sylvain Moussilmani (Tabou / Simmer)
PWA World Tour website