Day 4 - Windsurfing’s longstanding legend, Bjorn Dunkerbeck dominated the racecourse in the light winds off Westerland today to start the week ahead of his archrival, Antoine Albeau!
The crowds gathered on Sylt’s golden sands were greeted by a completely different breed of windsurfer this morning as tricks were swapped for tactics, and culos changed for cams. Instead of the double-jointed youngsters that dominated the freestyle, the water was awash with wise men that were more interested in speed than spocks!
The slalom sailors were blessed with a light 8-14 knot breeze and wall-to-wall sunshine in which to race down wind around a four-gybe course. A few lulls caused havoc with a couple of heats, but by one o’clock a full elimination had been completed. The buoys remained set, and the sailors on standby for the rest of the afternoon, but what little wind there was had shut down completely forcing the competition on hold for the rest of the day.
Terminator Salvation Part II
Many times world champion, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne, Mystic) dominated the winner’s final today to lead from start to finish and cross the line ahead of the current tour leader, Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde), and the PWA’s president, Jimmy Diaz (Starboard, North).
“Before the final I was really excited, I’d been doing well all day, and knew that I had decent board speed. I was also enjoying the longer run ups that we had to the start line – it’s not like Turkey where we only had about ten seconds to prepare. Here we could get lined up for at least thirty seconds enabling us to reach full speed as we hit the line.
The final was absolutely ideal for me. I tried to get a solid start in the middle of the line, trying to avoid the guys fighting it out at the pin, and also keeping away from the bunch at the boat, but still hitting it at full speed, and it worked out pretty well. Plus, I had great speed along the first reach to arrive at the first gybe ahead of Antoine, and from there on all I had to do was control him, and not make any mistakes. It felt like I had more board speed than anyone else on the water which really helped to give me confidence, and although the wind wasn’t that strong, it was really consistent. My gybing was good, and I just took it home from there!
It doesn’t look like we’re going to be doing too much racing tomorrow, but the rest of the week looks pretty windy, so I reckon there’s plenty of action still to come. And, it’s great to start the event with a first place!”
“To be honest with you, I was really happy just to make the final because the conditions early on in the elimination were not the best for me. Pre-start, there was a huge battle for the pin between Alberto Menegatti (Starboard, Simmer) and Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra, Dakine), so I decided not to get caught up in that. I lined up just above them with Micah Buzianis (JP, NeilPryde), and then Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard, North) came speeding up from the back and squeezed between us. I didn’t see where Bjorn was, he must have been above all of us. We were all a little bit early to the start so sheeted out, which meant I had a good position, but didn’t hit it at full speed. Bjorn literally came like a bullet past me - he must have had an amazing start upwind. He also had a better angle to the mark than me, was covering my wind, and was pushing hard to get to the mark first. I tried my hardest to stop him, but he gybed round the buoy first, and I had to fight with Kevin and Cyril too in order to hold my own position. At every gybe I felt like I was catching him up, but it was really difficult to get going again after each mark because I was in his wake. The course was actually fairly long at around four minutes, but it’s hard to come back! I’m really pleased to be in second, it’s a solid start to the event, but I’m not very happy that it’s Bjorn who’s in front of me!”
“In the semi-final heat I realised that the boat end of the start was actually a great place to be because there was a little bit more pressure up there. The pin end was more favoured, but only if you absolutely nailed it, which was too risky a tactic, so I decided to go for the boat end in the final. I began my run into the line well upwind of everybody else, and in the final few seconds Bjorn also came up towards me and started just to leeward. I think I was a little bit ahead of him to begin with, but he pulled out along the first reach, and Antoine just snuck in front of me too around the gybe. After the buoy I began to gain ground on him, and it looked like I was going to keep gaining on him, but a sudden gust came and Antoine accelerated off. I’m extremely happy with my result, and I think I had very good board speed on the course. The funny thing was, right before the start Bjorn said to me ‘hey Jimmy, shall we repeat what we did in the first race of the season in Korea?’ (he won the final and I came second) I looked at him and said, that sounds like a great idea! It didn’t quite work out, but I’m really pleased with my result.”
Tipped for the top, the tall Italian racer that continues to turn heads is the former youth world champion, Alberto Menegatti. Following a couple of third place finishes in the early rounds, he stepped up his game to qualify for the winner’s final, and then continued to perform to an unbelievably high standard claiming an impressive fourth in the final. Competing against those with at least ten years more experience, it won’t be long before he’s standing on the podium.
The start is an absolutely crucial part of the race to nail in order to get a good result, but in light winds it’s even more so because the speed difference between the sailors is much less, which means every single racer needs to have their watch completely in sync with the start sequence. Obviously this is nothing new to the top racers on the world tour, but when you break some gear moments before the heat sequence begins, thoughts tend to turn to those of getting some more equipment before the race starts rather than hitting the big red button on your watch! This is exactly what happened to 2009 world rankings runner up, Finian Maynard (RRD, Gaastra) before his second round heat today. Luckily, he had time to head back to the shore and grab some more gear. But, without a countdown to the gun he had to rely on the others to lead him in. Unfortunately, he chose Pawel Hlavaty (Starboard) who was hell bent on getting the best start of the fleet, and actually arrived far too early, dragging Maynard across with him!
Results After One Race
1st Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne, Mystic)
2nd Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde)
3rd Jimmy Diaz (Starboard, North)
4th Alberto Menegatti (Starboard, Simmer)
5th Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra, Dakine)
Top Speeds Today Courtesy Of My Geo Live
Antoine Albeau – 31.07 kts
Cyril Moussilamani – 30.57 kts
Bjorn Dunkerbeck – 30.37 kts
Jimmy Diaz – 29.87 kts
Eye On The Horizon
The wind forecast for tomorrow looks lighter than today, but from Thursday morning onwards another low pressure system is rolling in, which is bound to keep the weekend crowds entertained!