Opening the 2009 slalom season in style, Austria's Lake Neusiedl took its cue to deliver both sun and wind in equal measure to christen slalom's newest PWA World Tour destination.
In total, four race eliminations were completed over the event's six day holding period, in winds ranging from 7-25 knots. On predictably good form, three-time World Champion Antoine ALBEAU (FRA) set the pace for the opening race, seamlessly winning all of his heats before sailing to victory in the elimination's final. Hot on his heels was the Ross WILLIAMS (GBR) who looked calm and collected as he picked a path through the elimination to bag second place ahead of France's Julien QUENTEL in third.
Race two saw the early departure of ALBEAU in the first round following a start line collision with George MANEV (BUL). With the elimination depleted of the multiple World Champion, Bjorn DUNKERBECK (NED) seized the opportunity to take reigns and claim his first race victory. Behind him, Finian MAYNARD (IVB) showed class by securing second place in the highly testing Austrian conditions, leaving Gonzalo COSTA HOEVEL (ARG) to make amends for his second round departure in race 1, by filling out the final podium position in third.
Moving into the second day of competition, the wind stepped up a notch to deliver some classic slalom racing in 15-25 knots of breeze. As the third race elimination was narrowed down to the semi finals, COSTA HOEVEL continued to exert his dominance by winning his heat, equally, MAYNARD's campaign grew momentum with some slick sailing to hand him second place.
The following semi final proved to be close fought battle, ultimately going to a newly invigorated Kevin PRITCHARD (USA), who fended off advances from ALBEAU in second, and at-the-time event leader, QUENTEL third.
The elimination final proved to be an Anglo-French battle between WILLIAMS and ALBEAU. DESPITE ALBEAU's blistering straight line speed, WILLIAMS' faultless gybing and tactical negotiation of the race course rewarded him with a convincing victory. Close behind, ALBEAU made his presence felt as he chased in second, and QUENTEL continued his run of outstanding consistency in third.
The fourth and final elimination of day two saw more consistent sailing from MAYNARD, who executed three back-to-back heat victories to advance into the race final. Rising to meet the challenge, COSTA HOEVEL mimicked the British Virgin Islander's run by stitching together his own faultless run into the final eight.
Looking more comfortable in the Austrian conditions, Josh ANGULO (CPV) posed a potential threat as he tapped into his usual form to bag a spot in the semi finals. His run would be halted by a false start; in effect ruining his chances of posting a top ten finish in the overall event standings.
As the final rolled round, a selection of familiar faces took their positions to finish up the day's racing with one last high-speed slalom bout. From the off, WILLIAMS showed he was very much in the groove. Taking the lead on the first reach, the four gybes looked to be a mere formality for the Brit, who consolidated his lead on the final reach, allowing him to savor the moment he secured his second race win of the event, and in turn the event lead.
Giving chase was COSTA HOEVEL, who finished the race in second, ahead of ALBEAU in third.
The remaining four days of the event were lost to scorching sun and long periods of waiting on standby while the wind refused to blow. The final day of competition would seal the event's fait, as the wind completely backed off, ultimately handing WILLIAMS the event title thanks to a super consistent run of results. ALBEAU showed he's still able to deliver the goods riding for the JP-Australia brand, finishing in second, and COSTA HOEVEL showed his calibre by taking third.
To view the full results list, in addition to photos, videos, press releases and interviews from the event, log into www.pwaworldtour.com
The World Tour now heads to South Korea for the 2009 Ulsan World Cup from 16-22 May.