After a glorious day of sunshine the first day of the 2004 Sylt event has ended in victory for top French sailor Antoine ALBEAU (AHD/Neil Pryde).
The early morning light showed that there were a few waves and some wind but not quite enough for world championship wave competition so the wave sailors went into a holding pattern of half hourly updates. Josh ANGULO was determined to make the most of the conditions and went out on the water to tune up. He had this to say about this year's competition.
"After a good result here last year I am fired up for this event. I've been working on my equipment and it is working well so I have high hopes."
After a long nervous wait the decision was made to take the wave sailors off their holding status and gather the racers for some action. Before the start of the first official race a fun race was organized for the benefit of the thousands of spectators who had packed the seafront. Racing close to the shore the top racers in the world put on a display of fast paced Formula racing. Bernd FLESSNER (F2/Neil Pryde), Bjorn DUNKERBECK (Neil Pryde) and Kevin PRITCHARD (Starboard/Gaastra) were all over early and disqualified so winning was POL-11 Pawel HLAVATY (Starboard/Neil Pryde) taking home the fun race prize fund of 500 euro, not a bad days work, and it was only a bit of fun!
Race one of the 2004 PWA Labello Sylt racing event got underway at 18.30 in front of a packed beach front. Leading off the line was Antoine ALBEAU closely followed by Kevin PRITCHARD. Albeau had pulled out a healthy lead by the windward mark and stormed off down the reach. Further down the fleet there was a real tussle for fourth and fifth; place Arnon DAGON (Fanatic/Neil Pryde) was trying hard to make it past Dutch racing young gun Roy Van KOOLWIJK (Fanatic) and by the end of the race there was still only a few metres separating the two sailors.
The conditions were perfect for racing with good winds and a bit of swell. With the sun preparing to set on the horizon the sailors sped around the course. Micah BUZIANIS (F2/North Sails) wasn't going all that fast as he limped back to the beach just after the start. He was involved in a start line collision with Pieter BIJL (Fanatic/Neil Pryde) from Holland. Nobody was injured in the crash but Micah sailed back into the beach knowing that he would be disqualified from the race. The rest of the fleet made good progress around the course enjoying the first racing action of the event.
After two laps the dominance of Frenchman Antoine ALBEAU was clear to see as he crossed the line ahead of Kevin PRITCHARD in second and Steve ALLEN (Fanatic/Neil Pryde) in third and Roy Van KOOLWIJK in fourth ahead of Arnon DAGON on fifth.
Albeau was delighted and waved at the crowd as he crossed the line Kevin Pritchard looked pleased but it goes without saying that he would have preferred to be in 1st. Just as the last few sailors crossed the finish line the sun dropped below the horizon and the first day's competition had been very successful. The forecast is for more wind and waves tomorrow so a 7.30 am skippers meeting has been called for all wavesailors. With 8 days still to run the fun has only just begun.
Full results and pictures are available on the PWA website at the address below.