Lighter winds than normal kept the competitors on hold this morning. But, by lunchtime the trades filled-in and 3 races were completed in 13-24 knots of wind, and much smoother water than on previous days.
Steve ALLEN (Tabou / Gaastra) dented his hopes of climbing further up the top-10 when he missed the last qualifying spot in his first round heat - Sylvain MOUSSILMANI (F2 / Simmer) beat him to it.
Pieter BIJL (Fanatic / NeilPryde) also suffered in the first semi-final when Josh ANGULO denied him the 6th and final ticket to the final. Another top-10 hustler, Ross WILLIAMS (Tabou / Gaastra) fought tooth and nail with Finian MAYNARD (F2 / NeilPryde) in the second semi-final only to have the door shut in his face by the giant Virgin Islander and Jarek MIARCYZYNSKI (F2) of Poland.
A good showing from Benoit MOUSSILMANI (F2 / Simmer) put him among good company in the final.
Micah BUZIANIS' (JP / NeilPryde) sail could be seen streaking off the start line and along the first reach in the lead. Hot on his heels were Cyril MOUSSILMANI (Fanatic / North) and Ben VAN DER STEEN (Exocet / Naish) as they rounded the first mark before heading back out to sea.
With BUZIANIS still clear out in front ALBEAU was working his magic further down the pack and he soon picked-off Maynard along the second reach.
MOUSSILMANI gybed inside VAN DER STEEN at the second turn but the Frenchman got the better of him at the next gybe.
By the final mark ALBEAU was in second, and, as BUZIANIS crossed the line to win, the two French representatives fought-it out for second and third. MOUSSILMANI took a downwind path as ALBEAU chose the inside track, which successfully earned him second place.
The less hectic conditions at the start once again allowed BUZIANIS a clean get-away on the starting gun. This time it was Peter VOLWATER (F2 / North) who stuck to the American like glue along the first reach, with Kevin PRITCHARD (Starboard /MauiSails) fresh in this trail. But, free from traffic snarl-ups at the first mark, outstanding speed from Bjorn Dunkerbeck (T1 / North) brushed VOLWATER aside for the time being along reach 2.
BUZIANIS kept his cool ahead of the sparring behind him, as did Kevin PRITCHARD who soared into second through the last two gybes. BUZIANIS crossed the line clear as PRITCHARD kept clear of VOLWATER and DUNKERBECK slogging-it out for third. Dunkerbeck's board speed and acceleration right until the end was enough to squeak him past the Dutchmen who had to settle for fourth.
A shorter-legged course including a speed reach from the start was set for the day's final race. Cyril MOUSSILMANI blew-out when his harness broke in the first round and sailed a couple of legs before retiring. Jarek Miarcyzynski deprived Ben VAN DER STEEN in the second semi-final. That good work lined the Polishman up with the elite in the final.
ALBEAU appeared to lead the pack from the start and along the speed reach chased by Dunkerbeck, but, by the second mark, at the end of the super-broad leg, BUZIANIS rounded in the lead.
Finian MAYNARD was now in second place and it was no surprise to see Kevin PRITCHARD emerge from the first turn in third position.
However, on the third reach ALBEAU motored past PRITCHARD and onwards to challenge Maynard.
Maynard held his own as he followed BUZIANIS around the fourth mark, but ALBEAU finally edged into second along the penultimate reach.
NeilPryde team-mates BUZIANIS and ALBEAU rocketed along the final stretch to the finish with ALBEAU taking the downwind line to gain on last season's runner-up. But, the reigning world champ just couldn't make it time to deny BUZIANIS the maximum points from the day.
'Yeah a hat-trick! How cool is that?' exclaimed BUZIANIS as he packed-up his gear. 'The conditions mellowed -out a lot today, and I felt so much more comfortable. After the first race win I gained confidence and just built momentum from there. Bring-on tomorrow!'
The women completed two races leaving two for the final day showdown Race 12 was on the first course earlier in the day and race 13 was on the shorter speed-reach layout.
In the men's event it's still possible for any of the top 5 or in extreme circumstances even some of the top 10, to deny ALBEAU the event title. BUZIANIS is in the best position to attack, and the forecast would suggest it's likely to be similar conditions that he'll favor again tomorrow. However, it all came down to the final race recently in Gran Canaria and ALBEAU can be ruthless when the going gets tough.
Predictably Valerie GHIBAUDO (Tabou) and Karin JAGGI (F2 / North) led off the line, and took a similar route from the start to the first mark. GHIBAUDO seemed to have the edge in speed and kept the initiative around the first mark. Jaws on the beach then dropped when JAGGI sailed far too far downwind towards the fourth buoy instead, forcing her to turn and re-round mark 2 in last position.
In the meantime Iballa MORENO took her chance to pressure GHIBAUDO, with Sarah-Quita OFFRINGA (Starboard / NeilPryde) in contention in third.
GHIBAUDO finished the race un-hassled and MORENO took home valuable points for crossing in second ahead of Sarah HEBERT (Starboard / Naish). JAGGI's determination to finish rewarded her with an admirable 8th place.
JAGGI's resolve to make up for her earlier errors was evident as she led off the line ahead of GHIBAUDO. A fall at the first mark from OFFRINGA allowed MORENO to sneak by into third. GHIBAUDO and JAGGI tried their hardest to out-do each other at the second mark, with JAGGI going tight and on an inside line and GHIBAUDO going wide, fast and safe. GHIBAUDO's method seemed to work well until JAGGI's superior acceleration pushed her clear in front once again.
At the third mark GHIBAUDO switched tactic to try for the inside track, but she couldn't get past the Swiss legend. Now far ahead of OFFRINGA and the rest of the pack it was France vs. Switzerland all the way to the finish, but JAGGI's speed sailing experience allowed the win.
JAGGI leads the event and will win unless she achieves two thirds or worse, and GHIBAUDO wins both the final two races.
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