Antoine ALBEAU (AHD, Neil Pryde) has taken first place at the inaugural PWA Super X World Cup of 2004, at the Mondial du Vent in Leucate France as winds failed to materialise during a tense final two days.
Albeau led throughout most of the contest despite strong challenges from Matt PRITCHARD (Gaastra), Robby SWIFT (JP, Neil Pryde) and Nik BAKER (Mistral, North).
The light onshore winds and warm sunshine present in Leucate on the final day were a stark contrast to the tension that remained among the top ranked sailors. Albeau and Pritchard were still separated by just a few points and the final round of competition still held the possibility for Pritchard to steal victory. As the day pushed on though, it became increasingly clear that the forecast wind was unlikely to materialise.
Eventually, at three o'clock in the afternoon, race Director Klaus MICHEL decided that the competitors need no longer suffer the stress of the waiting game and called an end to what has been a thoroughly superb contest. The final results would read Albeau, Pritchard, Swift.
This has been the first ever PWA Super X World Cup and Leucate has proved to be a very worthy location. With consistently strong winds over four days and ten rounds of competition run the event has been an unprecedented success with crowds in their thousands enjoying the nail biting action. Albeau has won a deserved victory leading almost constantly from day one. Pritchard has challenged very hard and would have also been a worthy victor, but Albeau is a tough man to beat in any discipline and Super X is a true test of all-round ability.
There have been other notable performances from a large number of sailors during what has been a great event for new talent and veterans alike. Baker held the lead for a fleeting moment after round three, but then fell from grace through a subsequently inconsistent performance. Dutchman Pieter BIJL (Fanatic, Neil Pryde) showed remarkable talent at times, but his extreme style also carried extreme risk, seeing him crash out more than once. Also from Holland, Peter VOLWATER (Arrows) sailed solidly at high velocity and with massive jumps to finish fourth.
Julien TABOULET (JP, Neil Pryde), Ricardo CAMPELLO (JP, Neil Pryde) and Diony GUADAGNINO (Neil Pryde) have also been frequent visitors to the finals during the week and a combination of speed and fluid, powerful manoeuvres has undoubtedly contributed to their final positions in sixth, seventh and eighth respectively.
There has been (unsurprisingly) a huge French contingent here and, apart from the obvious front runners, many "locals" have made their mark on the event. Cyril MOUSSILMANI (Fanatic) won the third round ahead of event number three, Robby SWIFT and Nichol AKGAZCIYAN (AHD, Neil Pryde) was always very fast off the line coping well with the freestyle moves even in the strongest wind.
One entertaining talent in the fleet was Douglas DIAZ (Fanatic, North) who performed very capably in the strong winds despite his small size, often carrying 4.5m sails when even the seasoned pro's like Baker were on 4.0m!! Diaz, often last off the start line performed the compulsory spocks and forward loops with such consistency that he often recovered six to seven places during his heats.
After an amazing and tense contest in France, the PWA Tour now moves on to Spain in six weeks time for the second Super X World Cup of 2004 at Roses Bay, Catalunya. Will Albeau be able to maintain his dominance or will one of the many would be champions oust him from power?