The cream rise to the top after eight perfect rounds of high-octane slalom at the Alacati PWA World Cup.
The beautiful bay of Alaçati turned host, as the PWA World Slalom Tour called by for a week of racing action. Situated in the Aegean Sea, on the Cesme Peninsula of Turkey, the spot offers a windsurf paradise to all levels from complete beginner to World Cup Racer.
From the outset the action was intense. Stronger than usual Meltami winds savagely tested the abilities of the top 64, as they fought for supremacy around the 4 gybe down wind slalom course, concluding just meters off the beach in front of a huge Turkish crowd.
Ross Williams (Tabou/Gaastra) and Sarah Hebert (Starboard/Naish) were the overnight leaders after race one, but neither could sustain their lead beyond. By the end of day two it was the flying Frenchies, Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde) and Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou/The Loft) that rose to the top of the ranking, and from that point on, the fight was always for second.
Albeau, having already secured the Slalom World Title, looked cool, calm and collected. With the pressure off he put on a faultless display. Consistency was the key and as the points were tallied up at the close of the event he finished a league ahead.
Albeau "It was a really great event, with three days of good wind and really fair racing. I am super happy to be consistent; I was the only one to make all the finals."
Meanwhile in the women's contest Ghibaudo proved to the world she is in a class of her own. After a shaky start, she recorded an unprecedented string of first places, leaving her a perfect score of 4.2. The victory, coupled with her flawlessness accomplishments at all previous competitions, means she takes the Women's PWA Slalom World Title for her first time ever, again counting only first places.
Ghibaudo "It's very nice for me and I have been waiting for this moment for a long time. It's really great for me and for my sponsors. Monte (The Loft) is here and is really 'appy….. I am very, very 'appy."
Behind these two Champions the race for the remaining podium spots was cut throat. Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard/Severne) looked to have things under control, but disaster on day four saw him unwittingly hand over the spot to the ever-consistent Finian Maynard (RRD/NeilPryde). Maynard looked strong all week, and albeit one mistake in race four, made every final. This result cements his second place in the overall tour and with just one event to go Maynard exuded an air of confidence.
Maynard "I am really happy. I trained hard this year and everything has come together. I now realize I can really challenge Antoine and next year my goal is definitely World Champion."
With no wind for the final two days, Dunkerbeck had no chance to come back, but never the less, stood proud on the event podium. With moments of magic throughout the week it is clear he is still the man to beat, and his positivity towards the sport shows he will be around for many more years.
Dunkerbeck "We had a great week with really good wind and eight great rounds of slalom. Windsurfing is so strong in Turkey, more beginners than I have ever seen. Its really refreshing to see!"
For the women the results could not have been closer. With just three points separating second and fourth, it turned out to be the race eight win that saw Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard/NeilPryde) take second position. Her improving performance ended with an impressive win, the only sailor to beat Ghibaudo around the course all week. Surely we have witnessed the first light of a blossoming slalom career?
Offringa "I came here positive, aiming for top three, but still I am really surprised. Next year I think I will still spend more time on my freestyle board, but we will see about slalom."
Poor Sarah Hebert, just one point behind, watched as the second place podium slipped from her grasp. The highly focused French girl, (sailing for Armenia), has moved from strength to strength this year and as 2009 draws to a close see looks to have a secure grip of an overall podium finish.
Hebert "I should be really happy with third, but when its just one point away from second it is difficult. It was so close, but yes I am happy."
By her usual high standards, Karin Jaggi's (F2/Severne) event was not her best. Fourth place is not a fair representation of her talent, but unfortunately for the Swiss champ the lack of wind denied her the opportunity to recoup her losses.
Behind the men's leaders there were some fearsome battles. Micah Buzianis (JP/NeilPryde) was solid all week and had he not suffered a couple of 'out of his control' set backs, would probably have stood tall on the final stage.
Josh Angulo (Angulo/MauiSails/Dakine) and Kevin Pritchard (Starboard/Gaastra/Dakine) finished on equal points, with Pritchard sneaking fifth in the resulting tie-break. Angulo started the event in great form, missing the win by meters in race one. However as the week wore on, his level dipped, whilst the ever-consistent Pritchard managed to raise his game and come out on top.
Steve Allen continued to show the windsurf industry that he really deserves some stickers on his sails. Still without key sponsors must surely have the deals on the table.
Finally and controversially, were Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard/North Sails), Peter Volwater (F2/MauiSails) and Ben Van Der Steen (Exocet/Simmer Style). At times all three showed championship winning form, but lacked the stability to nail a top result. All three seemed to be at the heart of every incident, entertaining the crowds with aggressive sailing throughout.
Highlights of the week were considerable. Two ROZI cups gave the huge audience something to really cheer about. The format was simple; three teams of three sailors battling out for a healthy prize purse, right off the beach, lifting the crowd to new highs. Aided by the free flowing FOSTERS and CORNETTO ice creams, the carnival atmosphere was at full swing. Despite the huge support for Team Turkey however, it was the World Team that came out victorious.
The PWA Slalom tour now moves to Sylt for the final of the Men's Tour. Join us then for the exciting conclusion to 2009. Until then, check out www.pwaworldtour.com
for news, videos, photos and plenty more.