It has been another day of extremes here in Leucate, with winds once again gusting to 50 knots and sailors pushed to the limits in a day of solid Super X action.
Following the previous day's dramatic opening races France's Antoine ALBEAU (AHD, Neil Pryde) came into the first round of the day holding a narrow lead over England's Nik BAKER (North, Mistral) with Matt PRITCHARD (Gaastra) from the US following close in third.
The opening heats of round three provided little in the way of upsets as all the top dogs held form to make it through to the semi finals. With winds frequently gusting over 40 knots, there was no room for the faint hearted and moves had to be timed to perfection to avoid collisions in the extreme conditions. Once again, Baker and Vidar JENSEN (North) looked impressive as they performed their compulsory forward loops simultaneously.
A notable presence in the final was 2003 PWA Freestyle Champion, Ricardo CAMPELLO (JP, Neil Pryde) who made it past the first round for the first time here in Leucate. The dominant force in the last eight however was Cyril MOUSSILMANI (Fanatic) who took a flying start to lead from the beginning. Robbie SWIFT (JP, Neil Pryde) challenged hard and seemed very much at home in the strong winds, landing planing spocks and blasting through the duck gybes but it was not enough to catch Moussilmani. Baker sailed a solid heat after a disastrous start and eventually caught Albeau after France's finest took a nosedive at the second jump and submerged to a depth of about 4 feet. Baker eventually finished fourth, 3 places ahead of Albeau to take the lead at that stage of the contest.
Round 4 followed shortly after lunch and the wind strengthened and became very gusty making life hard for all competitors. Once more it was the same names surviving the first round. Baker, Pritchard, Albeau, Taboulet, Jensen and Swift advanced alongside a strong French reserve in the form of the MOUSSILMANI'S (Cyril and Sylvain) and Bieuzy MAUFFRET (Neil Pryde). Venezuela also marked their Super X turf with Campello, Douglas Diaz (Fanatic, North) and Diony GUADAGNINO (Neil Pryde) all securing a slot in the final stages.
Campello held off the attack from Taboulet in the losers final to earn a respectable 9th but with the event ranking now up for grabs all eyes were on the winners side. Baker streaked ahead from the start and looked to be in a commanding position, but after going down hard on more than one maneuver, victory slipped from his grasp. Albeau was hungry after his seventh in the previous round but Swift was on fire and hit every move right on the button to cross the line first - not a bad way to celebrate his 20th Birthday!!
With the winds holding strong, if maybe a little gusty, it was decided to run a third round, starting at 15.15.
The semi-finals were now becoming a familiar sight, this time with the addition of Xavier HUART (Mistral, North), Pieter BIJL (Fanatic, Neil Pryde) and Mathieu BONNO (JP, Neil Pryde). More notable however, was the lack of Nik Baker after a disastrous 6th place in the second heat.
With Baker out, the door was wide open for Albeau, who happily walked through it and on to the final. Diaz, Pritchard, Bonno, Guadagnino, Campello and Peter VOLWATER (Arrows) all maintained the pace to push through to the top eight with the big Frenchman, but it was only an on form Taboulet that stood a chance alongside Albeau who was not taking any prisoners. On the last reach, Albeau crashed his spock and gave Taboulet a fleeting glimpse at victory, but he was quickly back on his feet and over the line to set himself securely in the lead for the event win.
Winds are forecast to be even stronger on Monday and even bigger crowds are expected on the last day of the long holiday weekend.