Buzianis sets the pace. Photographer: Tillmans
The 2005 Fuerteventura PWA Slalom 42 World Cup – Day 7
Friday July 29, 2005
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The only thing more bizarre than yesterday’s weather was the weather that followed it today! It started with side-onshore winds from the left, followed within half an hour by total calm. By 11.00 the wind began to pick up from the normal side–off direction and whilst the race committee went about their business setting the course, the fleet set about prepping their equipment for another round of slalom.
With a 4 gybe downwind slalom course set, it was straight into men’s round number 5. Micah Buzianis (F2, North) was separated from Bjorn Dunkerbeck (North) by nothing more than a tie break going into today’s race, so the pressure was on them both keep a nose ahead of each other and, of course, ahead of Antoine Albeau (Neil Pryde) who lay in third . Through the early heats, all three of the would-be champions looked confident, winning by significant margins so the battle was going to be a close one.
In the first semi Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (F2, Neil Pryde) was perfect off the start line and led to mark number one. Disaster then struck again for Costa Hoevel as he rounded the mark unhindered, only to fall in open water an effectively out of the heat. Kevin Pritchard now took point, leading a comfortable looking Dunkerbeck all the way to the final, along with Arnon Dagan (Fanatic, Neil Pryde) and Albeau.
Semi final number two saw a very smooth Buzianis lead the pack down the first reach with a hungry Finian Maynard (F2, Naish) not quite finding the speed to catch the American. Steve Allen (Fanatic, Neil Pryde) out-braked Maynard into the gybe and slipped past the world’s fastest windsurfer, only to miss the boom on his gybe and fall. Buzianis had now built up an enormous lead and looked positively relaxed cruising round the course. By the time he crossed the finish and into the final, there was nearly an entire leg between him and Maynard, with Cyril Moussilmani (Fanatic) close behind in third.
After a break caused by more freak weather and an entire 360 degree wind shift, the finals got underway. The men’s losers final was dominated by Patrick Diethelm (F2, North) who demonstrated excellent speed in the choppy conditions, holding off the challenge from Allen, Ben Van der Steen (Neil Pryde) and Costa Hoevel who finished fourth.
The men’s final was for all the marbles, with Buzianis and Dunkerbeck going head to head for the event lead. Straight off the start line, Dunkerbeck took up pole position, leading Maynard and Buzianis to the first gybe. Dunkerbeck’s incredible speed carried him slightly wide of the mark and Buzianis was able to get inside both Dunkerbeck and Maynard to draw level. With the most windward position, Buzianis now controlled the action accelerating quickly to maximum speed and blasting into the lead past a very frustrated Dunkerbeck . At mark 2, Buzianis held his speed through the gybe brilliantly and opened up a good lead ahead of the battle for second, that was now raging between Dunkerbeck and Maynard. Dunkerbeck however, was not interested in what was going on behind him and focused purely on Buzianis, accelerating away from Maynard in pursuit of his event nemesis. But it was not to be and in clear wind and water, Buzianis flew across the finish line, his fist clenched in victory for the second time in as many days. Dunkerbeck must have been able to taste the defeat in Buzianis’s wake, with Maynard completing the course in third.
Valerie Ghibaudo did not make life any easier for herself in the women’s division going over early in round 8 and being sent back to the beach for an early bath. This left the way clear for Karin Jaggi (F2) and Allison Shreeve (F2, Neil Pryde) to battle it out on the course. Jaggi cleaned the first mark with style, Shreeve hot on her heels. But the young Aussie could not catch the tour veteran who opened up a significant lead by the next gybe to eventually finish almost a leg ahead of the chasing pack.
Women’s round 9 brought with it another opportunity for Ghibaudo, who’s chances of event victory were now fading fast. Shreeve got the better of the start, but was out-gybed by Jaggi at mark number one and subsequently overtaken by Ghibaudo. Try as she might, Ghibaudo could not put a dent in the lead that Jaggi had developed and by the last gybe, first place was quite simply out of reach. With Jaggi safely leading both the race and the event, the battle was now for third and fourth, as Verena Fauster (F2, Gaastra) capitalized on Shreeve’s errors to claw her way back to third.
The final day’s competition here tomorrow, promises to be a nail biting finish to what has been a dramatic event.