- 12 August 2008 | Windsurfing
The biggest players in the PWA’s prestigious Slalom discipline have touched down in Alaçati, Turkey, joining forces with an impressive local racing contingent. The combined total of the men’s and women’s fleets comes in just short of 100 competitors, making this the biggest racing fleet in eight years.
The first morning of the event was set aside for rigging and registration, giving the local thermal wind plenty of time to build before racing commenced in the afternoon.
When registration was completed, 75 men and 18 women signed up for the event, and the trademark Alaçati wind had built to a solid 20-25 knots, accompanied by super smooth water. In nothing short of perfect slalom conditions, the event was ready to be christened with the first men’s and women’s races.
Starting with the men’s fleet, the first round of heats passed without upset, the only exception being Dan Ellis (Fanatic, MauiSails), who let nerves get the better of him when he false started. The implications mean Ellis clocks up a 75th position finish and will no doubt have to use one of his discards on the result should four races be completed (four races grants the first discard).
Flying the Turkish flag, Enes Yilmazer (JP, NeilPryde) carried the hopes of the local fans on his shoulders. A promising start saw him fly into fourth in his first heat, but a lapse of concentration in the subsequent round meant he missed out on a place in the semi finals by one position.
Moving through to the semi finals and Finian Maynard (RRD, NeilPryde) showed a welcome return to form. The iconic speed sailor looked dominant in a heat laden with slaloms heaviest hitters, and ultimately stormed to victory ahead of second and third place rivals Jimmy Diaz (North) and Bjorn Dunkerbeck (T1, North).
In the lower half of the draw, there wasn’t a great deal of surprise when Antoine Albeau (Starboard, NeilPryde) emerged victorious in his semi final. Sailing fast in second place, Ben Van Der Steen (Exocet, Simmer) looked hungry to continue his run of form after finishing 4th place overall in the last event in Fuerteventura.
Moving into the final and predictability struck again when Albeau barged his way to the front of the fleet. Starting as he no doubt intends to go on, he claimed the first race and early event lead as his. Always consistent, Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra, MFC, Dakine) settled into his familiar second position, and Maynard looked like he was warming up for bigger and better things in third.
Toping the ranks in the losers final was Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (F2, NeilPryde, MFC), who had his work cut out to defeat Peter Bijl (Fanatic, NeilPryde), who’s more determined than ever after missing out on the start of the season due to issues with the US immigration process!
In the women’s fleet the seething Turkish crowd showed their support for compatriots and PWA regulars Cagla Kubat (Starboard, North) and Lena Erdil (The Loft). In response, the pair made their way into the final and proceeded to take 8th and 7th respectively.
Familiarly it was Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou, The Loft) and Karin Jaggi (F2, North) that had the firmest grip on the finale, fuelled by an age-old rivalry that’s pushed them to another level of racing. In this instance it was Ghibaudo that took top honors, leaving Jaggi simmering in second and Verena Fauster (F2, Gaastra) in third. Polish racer Mara Hlavaty (MauiSails) put her mark on the loser’s final when she crossed the finish line in first.