PWA Sylt 2008 

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.

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PWA Sylt 2008

With the weather gods seemingly playing roulette with Sylt’s conditions, the race committee had a tough call to make when deciding which of the three disciplines would brave the ever changing North Sea on competition’s fourth day.
 
Freestyle was confirmed as the chosen discipline, and after a brief hailstorm, the first round competitors were summoned to compete in the ominous waters off the Sylt coast.
 
Head high breaking waves, chop from all angles, marginal to howling wind and the mother of all shore breaks provided a challenging backdrop for freestyle’s first outing.
 
From the outset, it became clear that the rider’s routines were going to limited to the confines of the super tricky conditions. However, this didn’t stop them from putting on a show of epic proportions for the loyal German fans.
 
The more tactical sailors were opting to start their heats far out to sea, where the onshore wind was strongest and the currents weakest. However, regardless of tactics, at some point all of the sailors had to work their way back towards the beach, where the only way to get planning was with the assistance of the dumping shore break.
 
After a fairly conservative first round of heats, the higher ranked sailors started to raise their games and in turn the magnitude of their moves. Highlight of the second round was Taty Frans (Starboard, North Sails) versus Antxon Otaegui (JP, NeilPryde, MFC). Otaegui threw down a comprehensive mix of sliding and aerial moves, leaving the flamboyant Frans to counter in his typically gung-ho style. A spirited performance reached its crescendo when Frans opted to attempt a move on the face of a churning monster. The gamble resulted in him being washed all the way to the feet of the on looking crowd, and effectively extinguished any hope of him advancing, despite winning over the spectators.

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PWA Sylt 2008

Launching into action on competition’s third day, the slalom fleet dueled with the infamous Sylt shore break to pick up race one where it had been left off the previous day. Warning up the weather beaten German crowds, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (North Sails) drew first blood after sailing to victory in the opening heat, then the subsequent semi-final, granting him right of passage into the race final.
 
Also winning their second round heats were the UK’s Ross Williams (Tabou, Gaastra) and France’s Julien Quentel (Starboard, NeilPryde), who advanced to take their seats in the second semi final.
 
In that heat, it was Finian Maynard (RRD, NeilPryde) that adapted best to the challenging and highly changeable conditions, piecing together a solid performance that ultimately earned him victory, and his place in the race final.
 
Moving onto the losers final, spectators were treated to the rare spectacle of a three-man sail-off, after four of the competing sailors false started, and Turkish sailor Bora Kozanoglu (Starboard) missed the heat through injury. This left Jimmy Diaz (Starboard, North Sails), Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Exocet, NeilPryde, MFC) and Dorian van Rijsselberge (JP, NeilPryde) to battle it out.
 
Diaz took the reigns of the heat from the first reach and remained untouchable right to the finish line, leaving Van Rijsselberge to take second place and Costa Hoevel in third.
 
Rolling onto the final, 27 year old French race specialist, Sylvain Moussilmani (F2, Simmer) made his intentions clear from the outset, sailing to the front of the pack, and into the clean air on the first reach. Unphased by the likes of Arnon Dagan (Fanatic, Gaastra) and Dunkerbeck breathing down his neck, Moussilmani kept his composure around the four-gybe course to be rewarded with victory, and in turn the early event lead.

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