Tom Ashley

Tom ASHLEY, also the reigning World Champion, sailed a near flawless Medal Race, finishing third to win a tight three-way contest for gold.

It is the first Olympic gold medal in sailing won by New Zealand since Barbara KENDALL’s victory in the Women’s Windsurfer event at Barcelona 1992.

Frenchman Julien BONTEMPS finished one place behind ASHLEY in today’s Medal Race to take silver, whilst Israel’s Shahar ZUBARI edged out Nick DEMPSEY (GBR) to win bronze, winning the first medal for Israel at this Olympic Games.

Since finishing 10th in Athens as a 20 year old, ASHLEY has matured into a world beater on the windsurfing scene, a status he confirmed earlier this year with World Championship success on his home waters in New Zealand.

In a fleet in which many competitors have a big performance differential in different wind conditions, his all-round ability has proved crucial this week and brought him the Olympic gold medal.

"I've done it! It's the most incredible feeling and I can't begin to tell you how I feel right now," ASHLEY commented on returning to the boat park. ASHLEY, who is coached by Grant BECK (NZL), an instrumental figure the three previous medal wins of KENDALL, added that his Olympic success is the end of a long road,

"I’ve been working toward this for so many years. It was an insanely tough Medal Race," he said. "The weather had a little bit of everything. I tried to sail as consistently as I could."

Yesterday ASHLEY had had his worst race of the regatta after getting caught on the wrong side of a big wind shift and finishing down in the 32nd place. That had dropped him from first to third overall, although he was still just one point off the lead and knew that if he could finish ahead of BONTEMPS and DEMPSEY today and not let ZUBARI get too far ahead, the gold medal would be his.

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Bjorn Dunkerbeck

The Terminator returns on judgment day: Bjorn Dunkerbeck sails to victory in race eleven, crowning him the event winner on the final day of competition in Alaçati. In the women’s fleet, Valerie Ghibaudo wrapped up the event with a second in race eleven, having already done enough to take the event title.

With tensions mounting on the final day of competition, the ensuing last race of the event would prove to be make or break for Bjorn Dunkerbeck (T1, North) and Antoine Albeau (Starboard, NeilPryde), who sat just 0.4 of a point apart at the top of the score sheet.

For Albeau to rob Dunkerbeck of the event lead, he’d have to place in the top six, and beat Dunkerbeck in the final race. Likewise, for Dunkerbeck to take the event title, he’d have to place higher than Albeau.

In a warm up for the race final, Albeau and Dunkerbeck were pitched against each other in the semi finals. The resulting brawl saw Albeau gain a psychological boost when he crossed the line in second, two places above Dunkerbeck, however it was Finian Maynard (RRD, NeilPryde) that commanded the heat.

Coming down to the wire, the event title now hinged on the critical race final, with the winner quite literally taking all. As the green flag went up, Dunkerbeck seized the early advantage with a perfectly timed start. Off the pace, Albeau ran into problems when he caught a bag around his fin. The resulting drag left him towards the back of the pack, and stuck in dirty wind.

In contrast, Dunkerbeck, who seemed to be thriving under the pressure, screamed ahead of his nearest rival, Peter Volwater (F2, North) in second. By the fourth mark, Dunkerbeck was half a reach ahead, meaning the final straight was a mere formality en route to claiming the event title.

Crossing the finish line, the multiple world champion was greeted with wave upon wave of cheers and applause, as ecstatic fans congratulated the newly crowned event winner.

Albeau had little control over his result, and eventually crossed the finish line in tenth place. The crowds were then treated to a rare spectacle, as two of windsurfing’s most iconic figures congratulated each other on their latest achievements. Dunkerbeck the event winner, and Albeau, whose second overall for the event was enough to crown him the 2008 Slalom World Champion.

The final women’s race of the event would have little baring on the top positions, with Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou, The Loft) and Karin Jaggi (F2, North) already cemented in positions one and two, regardless of the outcome.

Even so, there was pride at stake, and the consummate professionals launched into one last awesome battle for all to enjoy. This time round it would be Jaggi’s day, as she cruised to victory with Ghibaudo close behind in second.

Much like the men’s result, Ghibaudo was crowned event winner, but Jaggi’s second overall for the event was enough to crown her the 2008 Women’s Slalom World Champion.
Our congratulations go out to the winners, and all those lucky enough to take part in this amazing event. 

Event Results

Men

1st Bjorn Dunkerbeck (T1, North)
2nd Antoine Albeau (Starboard, NeilPryde)
3rd Ross Williams (Tabou, Gaastra)
4th Finian Maynard (RRD, NeilPryde)
5th Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra, MFC, Dakine)

Women

1st Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou, The Loft)
2nd Karin Jaggi (F2, North)
3rd Verena Fauster (F2, Gaastra)
4th Lena Erdil (The Loft)
5th Sarah Hebert (Starboard, Naish)

2008 Pegasus Airlines Alaçati PWA WorldCup

The third day of competition started out with the completion of race four, which had been whittled down to the finals on the previous day.

First to hit the race course was the men’s losers final, which got off to a nervous start after Jimmy Diaz (Starboard, North), local Bora Kozanoglu (Starboard) and Patrick Diethelm (F2, North) all false started.

Taking the reins of the under strength heat, Gabriel Browne (Mistral, MauiSails) led from the start to take a decisive victory ahead of Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Exocet, NeilPryde) in second.

Moving onto to the final, and disaster struck for Antoine Albeau (Starboard, NeilPryde) on the first reach “I went too downwind towards Finian at the gybe, and my clew hit his mast causing me to fall in”. The mistake left Albeau languishing at the back of the pack, and despite an effort to climb back up the ranks; he crossed the finish line in tenth position.

At the front of the pack, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (T1, North) dialed into the conditions, opening up a massive lead before finishing the race a solid half reach ahead of his nearest rival, Ross Williams (Tabou, Gaastra) in second.

Filling out the remaining podium position was Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra, Dakine, MFC), who managed to hold off a sustained attack from Finian Maynard (RRD, NeilPryde), who had to settle for fourth.

In the women’s losers final of race four, Lee Korzitz (Tabou, Gaastra) struggled to match her form from previous events, despite finding herself at the front of the fleet. She stood her ground to take the win, and eleventh overall for the race, with Australian Annika Gillgren (Severne) crossing the finish line behind her in second, and twelfth for the race.

In the winners final, Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou, The Loft) had her foot firmly on the throttle as she negotiated the four buoy downwind course. On the finish line she was rewarded with the victory almost an entire reach ahead of the chasing pack. Padding out the all-French podium was Alice Arutkin (Starboard, North) in second, and fifteen year old Morane Demont (Starboard, Severne) in third.

After a fifteen-minute break, the men’s fleet hit the race course for the start of the fifth, and most surprising race of the event so far. The first shock came early on, when event leader Pritchard failed to advance from his quarterfinal. The implications of the blunder means Pritchard drops from the event lead, and the result may well come back to haunt him as the event progresses.

Not helping his cause, Diaz also stuttered in his quarter final, finishing in seventh position. Resultantly he made a premature exit from the elimination.

Moving on to the semi finals, the next upset came when top ranked racer Williams finished in a disappointing eighth position, leaving him to make up for the mistake in the losers final. In the second semifinal, Finian Maynard (RRD, NeilPryde) narrowly missed out on a place in the final after being edged out of contention by Dennis Littel (F2, MauiSails), who claimed the last remaining qualifying position.

Saving the biggest upset until last, the winners’ final witnessed a spectacular error when seven of the ten finalists were disqualified following a mass false start. Included in the mix up were Pieter Bijl (Fanatic, NeilPryde), Peter Volwater (F2, North) and Costa Hoevel.

The ensuing rerun of the race gave spectators the rare sight of a three-man heat, comprising of Dunkerbeck, Albeau and Ben Van Der Steen (Exocet, Simmer). The bout started out fairly evenly, but after the second mark it was Dunkerbeck and Albeau who’d taken the reigns of the heat. A final blast to the finish saw Albeau hold on to his lead, leaving Dunkerbeck close behind in second, and Van Der Steen in third.

In the losers final, Williams extended his run of poor form when he false started, as did Julien Quentel (Starboard, NeilPryde). The pair were disqualified, leaving Arnon Dagan (Fanatic, Gaastra) to take charge of the rerun and claim eleventh place for the race.

The women’s fifth race followed a more predictable path, with all the big names advancing from the semi finals without upset. Taking their seats in the race final, Ghibaudo showed she was keen to replicate her performance from the previous race.

One reach was all she needed before there was a gap between her and the chasing pack. Familiarly, it was Karin Jaggi (F2, North) who fronted the assault on Ghibaudo, but the domineering French racer showed her mettle, extending her lead all the way to the finish line. Jaggi was left to take second, and Poland’s Marta Hlavaty (MauiSails) finished in third.

In the women’s losers final, Gillgren battled her way to the front of the fleet to take victory ahead of Korzitz in second.

The day also made inroads to the sixth men’s and Women’s race. The situation in the men’s fleet has grown evermore interesting after Dunkerbeck, Pritchard and Williams failed to qualify for the final, leaving the door open for Albeau to reclaim his position at the top of the event standings.