Albeau Takes Slalom Title In Style
The 2009 Gran Canaria PWA Grand Slam Day 7: Antoine Albeau has demonstrated that he is currently the best slalom racer in the world with another amazing performance at Pozo Izquierdo.
The grey, cloudy skies that hung over Gran Canaria today brought with them the strongest winds seen so far in the competition. At times pushing 50 knots, both slalom and wave fleets had to compete under immense pressure, as Pozo lived up to all expectations.
The men’s slalom was a furious battle to decide the top five positions. The ocean seemed to take on a new form with the wind blown whitecaps creating an illusion of smoke on the water. Antoine Albeau looked solid early on, winning the first round after a nail biting battle with Robby Swift. Swift was outstanding in his speed and starts today, leading the first final from the outset, but the physical strain after thirteen rounds took its toll, and Swift lost his position after a tired final gybe.
Peter Volwater had an excellent day, winning the second final, and finishing runner up in the first. Volwater has proven that he is one of the fastest and most consistent sailors in the slalom fleet, and has moved up to a well-deserved fifth place overall.
Another solid day of racing by Finian Maynard has left him within 0.4 of a point away from third place Cyril Moussilmani, who is himself only 0.3 of a point behind Kevin Pritchard. The battle for the podium has reached its pinnacle, and all of the sailors will be eager to see if they will get the chance to race again tomorrow.
Ross Williams suffered yet more disappointment after a faulty watch battery left him five seconds behind the rest of the fleet on each start. This put pressure on Williams who pushed himself beyond his limits, eventually catapulting through his sail in the second reach of the loser’s final, and down in the overall rankings.
With only one remaining round, the slalom sailors will be excited about what tomorrow holds, and the final race will decide who will take home the glory.
The pushing tide this afternoon created a building wind-swell and the double elimination kicked of at 1500. The 45-knot winds became increasingly gusty as the evening went on, forcing an early end to the round, leaving Phillip Köster safe in the lead for one more day.
Firstly, praise must go to the sailors who competed in both disciplines. After a single round of waves and fourteen slalom races, the multi-talented competitors were pushed to their limits. Progressing through their heats, Josh Angulo, Ben Van der Steen, Robby Swift, Antoine Albeau and Ross Williams all sailed excellently despite their fatigue.
Thomas Traversa stood out this afternoon, his aggressive wave riding style finding him favor amongst the judges as he passed Omar Sanchez and Camille Juban who each sailed well. Marcos Perez showed his local knowledge and sailed brilliantly. He was the only sailor to consistently land planing takas in the most critical part of the wave.
A solid run from Mikey Clancy saw the only Irish sailor in the fleet progress into the second round, whilst British Phil Horrocks delivered a solid run to see him through to tomorrow’s contest. John Skye and Aleix Sanllehy also impressed with by busting out massive jumps and powerful wave rides.
The wave fleet will be anxious to see if the forecasted swell arrives in time to finish the double elimination tomorrow. As it stands, Köster remains on top of the leader-board, but Victor Fernandez will be eager to challenge him.
Day seven at Pozo has been the most intense day so far, yet the forecast is for stronger winds and more powerful waves. The stage is now set for the final showdown here in Gran Canaria, when we will find out who will claim the most coveted title on the PWA World tour.