18-25 knots and much flatter water than previous days treated the racers to a speedy final's day racing. The three final men's races and two remaining women's races. Christmas came early for Micah BUZIANIS's fellow podium contenders when stage-fright gifted them valuable points as the American started prematurely in two out of the day's three races.
With so much on the line on the final day there were no pretenders in the final. The hierarchy established in the early heats shutout just about all wannabees and lower-ranked sailors. Ben van DER STEEN (Exocet / Naish) made up for his failure to qualify by winning the loser's final.
A star-stacked winner's final was led off the line by Josh ANGULO with Finian MAYNARD (F2 / NeilPryde) and Antoine ALBEAU (Starboard / NeilPryde) in hot pursuit. Kevin PRITCHARD (Starboard / MauiSails) had a shocking start, rounding the first mark in second last position.
By the end of the second reach Josh ANGULO threw his lead with a full-on catapult approaching the second gybe, which handed ALBEAU the initiative. At mark 3 ALBEAU was concentrating on controlling pressure from MAYNARD who had BUZIANIS snapping at his heels, all whilst PRITCHARD had worked his way back up to fifth.
By the 4th mark and final reach ALBEAU had covered an impressive amount more distance, and took the win despite a massive catapult just inches after crossing the finish line! Finian MAYNARD survived to score second and Pieter BIJL (Fanatic / NeilPryde) thundered over in third.
Micah BUZIANIS pushed the start hard in a last chance bid to win the event, but was caught out for jumping the gun far too early. That left a massive opportunity for Bjorn DUNKERBECK (T1 / North) and Kevin PRITCHARD to exploit in his absence.
In the final there was no messing about for ALBEAU. He didn't push the start but sped into the lead on the first reach chased by Dan ELLIS (Fanatic / Naish) and MAYNARD. On the second reach DUNKERBECK and PRITCHARD hustled past traffic into second and third respectively.
On the third reach DUNKERBECK pushed ALBEAU really hard but just couldn't catch him and the Frenchman pulled-away from DUNKERBECK, as DUNKERBECK put distance between himself and PRITCHARD.
DUNKERBECK turned as tightly to the mark as possible around the last buoy in an attempt to get upwind advantage for the final leg. But ALBEAU was uncatchable after a fast safe, wide gybe saw him hold his lead all the way to the finish. DUNKERBECK followed shortly afterwards and Kevin PRITCHARD finished third.
For the final race a long distance course was set, with a start around 2km upwind and a massive long leg towards a short 5-leg zigzag including a speed reach along the beach in front of the waterside grandstand.
There were two general re-calls as the top-10 launched a final all-out assault on the point's rankings. Unbelievably BUZIANIS couldn't hold back enough to cross safely and he was dispatched back to the beach along with MAYNARD and several others.
After the initial nerves had settled the third start was successful with the magnificent sight of 46 sailors screaming towards the beach from Costa Calma.
ALBEAU was predictably at the head of the pack at the first mark despite the pack being less spread out than would normally be expected. Josh ANGULO was right in ALBEAU's wake as they rounded the buoy with Pieter BIJL just inches behind him. A gigantic pile-up soon followed behind as rider after rider poured in trying to avoid the carnage, but stray masts and boards just axed even more chancers who tried to skirt the fringes of the havoc and mayhem.
ALBEAU stretched his lead over ANGULO along that second reach as DUNKERBECK and van Der Steen hustled for the inside line at mark 2.
ANGULO endured a lot of pressure from DUNKERBECK along the third reach and from some angles it looked like Switzerland's finest was about to mow him down. But the Cabo Verdian held his own to round the third and fourth marks safely and follow race winner ALBEAU over the line for second.
DUNKERBECK bagged third and subsequently booked the last place left on the podium. PRITCHARD's 6th place finish was enough to see him into the runner'-up slot after BUZIANIS' shortcomings at the last start.
Valerie GHIBAUDO (Tabou) headed the pack away from the start and showed superior speed from Karin JAGGI (F2 / North) along the opening reach. She held the lead despite pressure from JAGGI at the second mark which caused the Swiss girl to fall after attempting an inside overtaking maneuver. That fall allowed Iballa MORENO (North) and Sarah-Quita OFFRINGA (Starboard / NeilPryde) to cruise on by.
OFFRINGA stayed glued to second position, reluctant to let MORENO past as JAGGI recovered and sailed back into 4th. GHIBAUDO coolly rounded the final gybe still in the lead; as OFFRINGA survived an inside swoosh by JAGGI who subsequently fell once again.
GHIBAUDO surged ahead to win as OFFRINGA and MORENO slugged it out for second and third, but the Offringa had the composure to finish the job as MORENO settled for third.
The final women's race would settle the title in a fitting end to a week's fantastic racing.
JAGGI made no mistakes with a clear-cut start-to-finish victory. GHIBAUDO tried several times to sneak an inside line or to push hard for a direct downwind line along the reaches. JAGGI was in no mood to lose the event after this many mistakes and she drove it home ruthlessly to take the event title and 2007 tour lead. GHIBAUDO followed soon in second and MORENO snaked OFFRINGA for third.
Antoine ALBEAU modestly commented upon his impressive event win and second successive Sotavento crown. 'I'm happy because once again it came down to the last day and was intense between Kevin, Micah, Bjorn and myself. They really had to attack today but watch their backs at the same time under pressure. Today I just had to do fairly well instead of having extreme results go my way. The second win today gave me the title so I tried not to push the starts too much and to just go safely around the course. 2007 has seen more slalom competition, and many more events. It's tighter and tighter at the top and next season will be interesting with guys like Ross WILLIAMS (Tabou / Gaastra) and Cyril Moussilmani (Fanatic / North) pushing more than they did this year plus lots of new sailors gaining experience for years to come'
Kevin PRITCHARD was also thankful for his result. 'Relieved. Happy. Fuerte isn't usually my best location and 2 'aint too bad. That's two events in a row with a final day pressure-cooker scenario and I came through. Perfect!'
Karin JAGGI similarly reflective on her victory. 'It was super-tough racing all week and all down to the last race between Valerie and me. I made the battle more exciting by making so many mistakes, but I got it together which was nice in the end. It's also nice to see girls like Iballa trying Slalom too and nice to have it so close. It's fun!'
Tomorrow sees the start of the freestyle event for the world's most technical men's and women's tricksters. The competition runs through 30th July
Professional Windsurfers Association (PWA) Events are designated as ISAF Special Events. There are five main disciplines that are held on the PWA World Tour: Wave, Freestyle, Race (Slalom 42), Super X and Indoor. Competitors at each World Tour event score points towards the PWA Annual Ranking list. At the end of the season, the sailor with the highest total score in each discipline is the PWA World Champion for that year. For more information on the PWA, the events and the sailors visit the PWA website - www.pwaworldtour.com.
For all the new from the PWA World Tour CLICK HERE.