Bjorn Dunkerbeck

Bjorn Dunkerbeck (SUI, Proof, North Sails) and Valerie Ghibaudo (FRA, Loft Sails) are the European Champions of Speed Windsurfing 2008 !

In a thrilling final gold fleet race Bjorn Dunkerbeck defeated Antoine Albeau (FRA, Starboard) who was leading the competition until that final race. Both were tied in points, with the tie broken in favour of Antoine Albeau by the top speed of the season (43.68 knots), a new spot record as well.

Cyril Moussilmani (FRA, Fanatic, North) saved his third place with his fifth third position out of six races, clearly ahead of former world record holder Finian Maynard (BVI). In fifth place then Chris Lockwood (AUS, Carbon Art, KA Sails).

In the womens fleet, Valerie dominated all six races with six victories, also clear in second Anja Kruse (GER, F2, North) with five second places. Third place then goes to Elke Schill (GER, F2, North) from the hosting Pro Center.

The event started with the first split fleet race in speed sailing history, to get a proper seeding for the upcoming silver and gold fleet races.

Antoine Albeau (FRA, Starboard) dominated group A, Peter Volwater (NED, F2, North) in second ahead of Cyril Moussilmani (FRA, Fanatic, North), then Chris Lockwood (AUS, Carbon Art, KA Sails). Group B kicked of with the long expected duell between Bjorn Dunkerbeck and Finian Maynard (BVI), and Bjorn showed with some fantastic runs over 41 knots the potential of that strip. Surprisingly Ben van der Steen (NED) came in second, followed by Torsten Luig (GER, T1, North), Finian in fourth then.

The second day of competition brought the conditions that Devils Bay is well known for: winds of 8 Beaufort, gusting 10, brought problems for almost all of the silver fleet competitors, and the gold fleet was setting new standards in competition speed sailing.

The skippersmeeting was set to 9:00 at that day, as the forecast was promising strong wind early, and the wind was strong. The gold fleet hit the water sharp at 9:30, and everybody was doing 40s easily from the very beginning. Antoine and Bjorn Dunkerbeck (SUI, Proof, North) were both pushing for higher and higher speeds. Cyril Moussilmani (FRA, Fanatic, North) in third and Finian Maynard (BVI) in fourth.

After a short break, the Silver fleet was sent out, and it was a hard time for the mainly amateur sailors. In winds of up to 10 Beaufort almost all of them had problems to go up to the starting zone. With the top 7 sailors advancing to the next gold fleet race then the next round was started half an hour later, with again Antoine Albeau in first and Bjorn Dunkerbeck in second. Third this time Finian Maynard (BVI), and Chris Lockwood (AUS, Carbon Art, KA Sails) in fourth.

After a longer lunch break, the day went into the fourth round for the first discard of the competition, and this time it was Bjorn Dunkerbeck who was faster than anybody else. Albeau this time only in second, and Moussilmani in third.

The day after gave the riders a break then, with the wind never reaching suitable strenght, and with the first discard already in at that early point of the competition there was no need to push for lightwind sailing.

One more round was completed on day five then in relatively light winds, leaving the decision about the title open to the final two days of the competition.

The skippersmeeting was again set to an early 9:00 schedule, but the wind was not there. Thus the riders were directly put on standby with the AP flag up, and around noon the wind was sufficient to start the next silver fleet race. The speeds were quite impressive with speeds around 38 knots, and the fight for the top five places to go up to the gold fleet race was tough.

The womens fleet was one more time dominated by Valerie Ghibaudo, clearly ahead of Anja Kruse (GER, F2, North) and Elke Schill (GER, F2, North).

As the wind dropped a little bit in the second extension of that heat, the gold fleet start was postponed.

At 13:40 hours the wind came up again and the gold fleet sent out to its fifth round, and the speeds were extremly good for the given conditions, proved by topspeeds of over 40 knots by Bjorn Dunkerbeck. Also Antoine Albeau in second and Cyril Moussilmani (FRA, Fanatic, North) came close to 40 knots, then Chris Lockwood (AUS, Carbon Art, KA Sails) and Finian Maynard (IRL).

Bjorn Dunkerbeck, winning the last two rounds and Antoine Albeau, who dominated the beginning of the event were tied in points now, and due to the better top speed Antoine still in the lead. So the decision about the 2008 title was shifted to the final days.

Surprisingly on racing day six the wind was completely off. Everybody was on the beach and in the water, with temperatures up to 35 degree and no movement of the air.

The last chance to get the decision was thus moved to the final day, again with an early skippersmeeting at 9:00 if the wind would be there.

The day started light, with the wind strength suitable but with a too square direction. At 11:00 the conditions were ok then and the silver fleet sent out. Speeds of up to 38 knots proved that the decision was correct, and the top five riders went up to the final, deciding gold fleet race.

From the very beginning it was a tough battle between Dunkerbeck and Albeau, bot with speeds in the high 39s, but then Bjorn came up with three 40 knots runs, while Albeau couldnt get that speed on the final leg.

The final ranking for the 2008 Karpathos European Championship is:

1. Bjorn Dunkerbeck (SUI, Topspeed: 42.92 knots)
2. Antoine Albeau (FRA, 43.68)
3. Cyril Moussilmani (FRA, 42.30
4. Finian Maynard (IRL, 41.88)
5. Ben van der Steen (NED, 40.76)

Chris Lockwood, originally in fifth position, is not counted towards the european championship, but for the overall ranking.

SOURCE: ISWC