Day 4 - After four full eliminations of high-octane slalom, Antoine Albeau leads the fleet and proves to the crowds on Brandenberger Strand that he’s the World’s number one racer.
After the early start of the previous day, it was a welcome break for the sailors to arrive at the event site at 09:00. With plenty of wind, and the sun breaking through the clouds, the race crew quickly set the course in preparation for a downwind duel between the World’s fastest windsurfers.
The racing got underway promptly, and before long, the four gybe downwind course was blessed with 12-18kts of wind and wall-to-wall sunshine. This was champagne slalom racing at its finest.
The usual suspects stamped their authority over the rest of the fleet during the first heats, with only a few surprises. The first of these came in the form of local legend Bernd Flessner (F2, NeilPryde) failing to make it through in front of his home crowd. Next up was PWA Chairman Jimmy Diaz (Starboard, North) who also failed to make the cut. He crashed out on one of the long reaches, creating an impressive scene for those gathered on the beach early on.
In the final, Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde) shot off the start line and straight into the lead. He dominated the whole race and won with a comfortable margin, reaffirming his position as the 2009 PWA Slalom World Champion. Behind him however there was a real race going on between the French Moussilmani Brothers, Cyril (Starboard, North) and Benoit (Starboard, Simmer). After the Frans brothers freestyle tussle, the previous day we thought we’d seen the end of family rivalry, but these boys took it to the wire today! In the end Benoit took 2nd and Cyril had to settle for 3rd.
In the losers final there was even more drama. This time between long-term rivals Finian Maynard (RRD, NeilPryde) and Micah Buzianis (JP, NeilPryde). It was extremely tight around the whole course but Maynard put his foot to the floor and edged out just in time to take line honours.
There was no hanging around today, as soon as the final for race one was complete, the heats for race two began. Again, the top seeds proved to their less experienced peers why they’re ranked as highly as they are and sailed their way through the early heats with ease.
The true excitement of race two came in the final rounds when the sailors pushed hard at the start and only managed to get clear after two general recalls. Falling foul on one of these was the slalom master, Albeau. This could have been a fatal error had only three full rounds been completed as he would have counted it towards his overall event standing. Luckily for him there was plenty of time to complete two more full eliminations, but he wouldn’t have known that at the time.
After showing plenty of promise during his heats, Josh Angulo (Angulo, MauiSails) also pushed too hard during this final and had to pay the price with a PMS. With two of the quickest guys in the world out of the final, it gave some of the other sailors a chance to steal victory. Maynard was right up there at the start and flying round the course, but fell at the last hurdle allowing Buzianis to take the bullet with Cyril Moussilmani and Diony Guadagnino (Hot Sails Maui) hot on his heels finishing second and third respectively.
Chaos best explains the heats in race three. With an abandonment of heat one early on due to a shift in the wind, and the course needing to be reset, many of the sailors failed to look at the board on the committee boat causing them to sail in the wrong heat and receive automatic disqualification.
Once the heats were back up and running smoothly Albeau had a shocking start but managed to fly through the pack overtaking almost everyone with his awesome board speed. He couldn’t quite do enough to steal the lead from former World Champion, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne) who led from start to finish in the same heat.
This was only a short lived victory for Dunkerbeck though as Albeau proved his worth once more in the final, leaving him with nothing to do but settle for second. Maynard found form again, and without any mishaps followed through in third.
The wind began to moderate during the heats for race four creating mayhem for those that sailed out to the start line on their smaller gear. Even the most experienced sailors were caught out causing huge upsets as they failed to qualify for the finals. Victims of this included seasoned veterans such as Angulo, Maynard and Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra).
Buzianis then managed to create a spectacle for the crowds during the early rounds by falling in whilst leading his heat. Experience shone through though, and no sooner than he’d hit the water, he was back on his board and charging towards the front of the fleet. Needless to say, he still qualified. A lucky escape for the American.
The heat carnage cleared the way for many younger sailors to seize the moment and claim glory, but none could quite match the masters. Plus, Dunkerbeck had a score to settle with Albeau and no one was going to get in the way of that. Dunkerbeck sailed a flawless race to take his first proper victory of the day, Albeau having to settle for second.
After four full speed rounds of slalom, Albeau leads the fleet, followed by Dunkerbeck and Cyril Moussilmani. With five full days still to run however, there is still every chance that this can change.
1st Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde)
2nd Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne)
3rd Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard, North)
4th Micah Buzianis (JP, NeilPryde)
5th Julien Quentel (RRD, NeilPryde)