- 02 October 2008 | Windsurfing
After a windless morning spent dodging torrential downpours, day five of competition was eventually graced with suitable wind to resume slalom’s second race. A shaky start marred by fickle wind ultimately gave way to spectacular high wind surf slalom conditions, much akin to Gran Canaria.
The 25 to 35 knot wind caught most, if not all the slalom fleet off guard, with the majority of the sailors fighting to hold down 8-9m rigs. The first big seed to stumble in the nuclear conditions was British Virgin Islander, Finian Maynard (RRD, NeilPryde). The famed speedster was forced out of contention in the second round, after a flat out drag race to finish line with Brit, Ross Williams (Tabou, Gaastra). Williams gritted his teeth to pip Maynard to the all-important fourth place qualifying position.
Also making a shock departure from the elimination was race one winner, Sylvain Moussilmani (F2, Simmer), who placed an uncharacteristic last place in his second round heat.
Moving into the semi finals, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (North Sails) made his chances of adding a second event victory to his name a considerably harder challenge, when he failed to qualify for the race final, thanks to some classy sailing from heat winner Cyril Moussilmani (Fanatic, North Sails), and fellow qualifiers; Patrick Diethelm (F2, North Sails), Peter Volwater (F2, North Sails) and Josh Angulo (MauiSails, Dakine).
The second semi final saw Antoine Albeau (Starboard, NeilPryde) win his first heat of the event thus far, a feat that took somewhat longer than most would have predicted. Joining the Frenchman in the final was fellow countryman Cedric Bordes (Tabou, Gaastra) and team mates Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra, MFC, Dakine) and Williams.
The race final played host to some outstanding slalom action. From the off, Albeau looked dominant and quickly put ground between him and Williams, who chased in second. However, it would be all change as the racers rounded the second mark.
Albeau’s stumbling block came when he fell gybing in the maxed out conditions, and seemingly handed pole position to Williams, however Angulo had other plans. A truly outstanding gybe saw him flip the rig and fly passed Williams, who hadn’t anticipated such pace from Angulo.
With clean air ahead and a sniff of his first ever elimination victory, Angulo put the hammer down to claim the race as his. Always consistent, Williams took second place, and in turn the event lead, leaving Volwater to take third.
The losers’ final was won by Robby Swift (JP, NeilPryde), who had to fend off the likes of Dunkerbeck and Moussilmani before he was rewarded with victory, handing him ninth place in the second race.
Late into the afternoon, the howling onshore wind allowed the wave fleet to make their debut in Sylt. The super challenging conditions made leaving the beach a commendable achievement on its own, let alone having to produce two differing jumps and a wave ride.
Highlights of the first seven heats included Danny Bruch’s (Gaastra, MFC) monster double forward loop, that had much of the awe-struck crowd questioning if they’re really witnessed such a feat.
Tonky Frans (F2, Gaastra) sailed a memorable heat that saw him launch into ten times as many jumps as any other sailor managed to notch up. Unfortunately for Frans, he neglected the riding element of the scoring, and lost out to Phil Horrocks (JP, NeilPryde) who was destroying the shore break with big backside aerials and frontside smacks.
With daylight fading, the race committee were forced to call an end to the wave single elimination after seven heats, concluding another dramatic day on Westerland Beach.