The 2006 Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam Day Five
Antoine Albeau (F192 Starboard / NeilPryde) and Karin Jaggi (Z-14, F2 / North) stamp their authority with final race wins to take the men’s and women’s event titles. With mistakes all-round it was Finian Maynard (KV-11 F2 / NeilPryde) who won the battle for second ahead of Micah Buzianis (US-34 JP / NeilPryde) in third.
Men’s Race Nine
Failing to advance from the qualifying heats were Arnon Dagan (ISR-1, Fanatic / NeilPryde) and Patrick Diethelm (ITA-120 F2 / North) after premature starts. Another surprise came when in the first semi-final Bjorn Dunkerbeck (E-11 T1 / North) was disqualified himself for an early start. This was great news for Albeau, Buzianis and Maynard. Dunkerbeck unsurprisingly had little trouble in winning the losers final.
Albeau and Maynard took the boat end options for the start of the final and Kevin Pritchard (US-3 Starboard / Maui Sails) took his typical downwind end tactic. Pritchard was seen heading upwind hard approaching the first mark as Albeau and Maynard bore down on him. Albeau rounded first and Maynard made sure he was next rounding just ahead of Pritchard.
By mark two nothing had changed at the front but there was a great battle going on behind for fourth place between Steve Allen (AUS-0 Tabou / Gaastra), Jimmy Diaz (ISV-11 F2 / North), and Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (ARG-3, F2/ NeilPryde).
Albeau still lead Maynard and Pritchard by the third mark, and by the final reach he extended his lead even further with great speed, whilst Maynard did all he could to keep Pritchard from passing him. Albeau won easily and Maynard came second ahead of Pritchard in third.
Women’s Race Thirteen
Valerie Ghibaudo (FRA-444) was first out of the blocks at the start and won the race to the first gybe mark. Jaggi tried desperately to pass her inside at that gybe, but just couldn’t get the exit speed she needed. Ghibaudo lead over the next two reaches and around the third gybe mark, as Jaggi fended off Sarah Herbert (FRA-61 Starboard / Naish). Just behind Herbert was Allison Shreeve (AUS-911, F2 / NeilPryde) who tried to make a move to pass Herbert using the inside line, but Herbert’s gybing skills kept meant Shreeve stayed behind for the time being. Burning along the fourth reach Shreeve finally found the speed to pass Herbert. Ghibaudo won with Jaggi claiming second and Shreeve third.
Women’s Race Fourteen
Shreeve started at the boat end whilst Jaggi chose the pin end, but it was Jaggi who had the most speed approaching mark one, with Ghibaudo just behind. Shreeve, in third, tried once more to go inside Ghibaudo without success, leaving Jaggi and Ghibaudo racing neck and neck throughout the second reach. As Jaggi and Ghibaudo got carried away with their private drag race they put huge distance between themselves and third placed Shreeve. The final reach saw another good battle as Herbert and Shreeve fought for third place. Jaggi won and Ghibaudo came second whilst Herbert impressively gained third position.
Men’s Race Seven Final
Improving conditions meant the pending race seven final could be completed, although there were a couple of disqualifications for early starters Diony Guadagnino (V-69 Mistral / NeilPryde), and Pieter Bijl (NED-0, Fanatic / NeilPryde).
Dunkerbeck chose the boat end at the start as Pritchard and Buzianis went for the downwind option, and Albeau chose to start just upwind of centre. Albeau seemed to have chosen the right option as, without even being at full speed, he managed to beat Buzianis to the first gybe. Just behind Buzianis was Maynard who just brushed past the American, who then fell as a subsequent crash caused all the rushing traffic to go down. In the meantime Albeau pulled ahead on the second reach as Maynard and Pritchard fled the carnage behind them. Dunkerbeck had also survived by gybing wide, and did his best to catch Pritchard through the next two reaches. By the fourth reach Albeau was far ahead, despite Maynard showing awesome speed putting a lot of distance between him and Pritchard. Albeau won and Maynard came second ahead of Pritchard in third. Dunkerbeck rolled in fourth but it was Buzianis who hurt the most as his eighth place finish meant he dropped from second to third in the event rankings.
Women’s Race Fifteen
Good conditions gave the chance to run a fifteenth race for the ladies, reaching the maximum figure the rulebook allows.
Jaggi got a less than ideal start as Ghibaudo and Shreeve pulled away from the start line ahead of her. Jaggi stayed in third after the leaders rounded the first mark, but on the second reach she passed Shreeve, and then went around mark two in second. At the third gybe Jaggi had caught up with, and tried to get inside of Ghibaudo, but the tough French competitor was too quick away from her turn. During the fourth reach, Jaggi chose to point upwind and then bear down on Ghibaudo at the final mark. This wise choice meant she swooped past Ghibaudo, from tight inside to the mark, and flew into the final reach at full speed.
There was another classic drag race between these great racing rivals approaching the finish line, with Ghibaudo briefly re-claiming the lead, before Jaggi slammed into top gear and sped over the line to win. Ghibaudo came second, miles ahead of Shreeve in third.
Competition was over for the day and so the excellent Slalom 42 section of this event came to a close. Albeau started this event looking as if he was about to repeat his excellent form shown at the recent Gran Canaria PWA Grand Slam. Then, a couple of poor showings by the Frenchman, meant that Dunkerbeck took the driving seat over the next two days. Meanwhile the race for second and third place hotted up between Maynard and Buzianis. Widespread nerves and mistakes all-round on day four let Albeau re-claim the lead as Dunkerbeck slumped to fifth. Maynard was Albeau’s biggest threat throughout this event and remains a true force to be reckoned with approaching the last two events of this tour.
Karin Jaggi has showed once again her all-round pedigree as one of the greatest female windsurfers in history. With unquestionably the best tactics, boardspeed and turning ability, Jaggi truly deserves another racing event title. Ghibaudo, her closest rival is perhaps the only figure in the women’s sport able to threaten Jaggi for now in Slalom.
The event now changes gear and flips into freestyle mode until July 31st. The tension is mounting at Sotavento as mind-bending, brand new moves are seen as the world’s best warm up in a freesailing frenzy. Skippers’ meeting is at 09.30 tomorrow.