Steady wind and breaking waves meant epic slalom racing here in Sotavento today. That meant the daily maximum of 4 men's races were completed.
Matt PEARCH (Mistral / North) and Josh ANGULO raced well through the qualifying heats and semi-finals and denied some top seeds their slots in the final.
The first semi-final had some drama when Wilhelm SCHURMANN (Starboard / NeilPryde) went down at the second mark causing carnage as virtually everyone behind piled on top of him.
Bjorn DUNKERBECK (T1 / North) won the race convincingly after a solid start in the middle of the line. Fully powered on a 5.8, the champ obviously enjoyed the less choppy conditions compared to yesterday and stayed safe once out in the lead after safely rounding the first mark.
The overnight event runner-up Antoine ALBEAU (Starboard / NeilPryde) exploded along the second reach and was forced to make an uncharacteristic retirement after his boom and harness lines ripped into pieces. Cyril MOUSSILMANI (Fanatic / North) kept things steady to register third.
The fourth race turned-out a bizarre result.
In an error-ridden elimination Bjorn DUNKERBECK immediately slipped-up after his solid win by failing to advance from his first round qualifying heat.
Next to trip over was ALBEAU who once again crashed-out in the second semi-final and had to settle for a slot in the loser's final, which he won, instead
The final resulted in all but three of the 12 competitors being disqualified for prematurely crossing the line.
That left Cedric BORDES (Tabou / Gaastra), Britain's Ross WILLIAMS (Tabou / Gaastra), and Nicolas WAREMBOURG (Gaastra) to fight it out for the guaranteed top 3 results.
WILLIAMS led for most of the way around the track but BORDES snaked inside WILLIAMS as the Englishman made a safe wide gybe at the third mark to take the lead and the race win. WAREMBOURG took third after a crash at the second last gybe
There was a collision before the start of women's race 5 between Iballa MORENO (North) and Valerie GHIBAUDO (T1). MORENO was bearing-off to gain speed as the French woman headed-up down wind of her. MORENO survived the collision but GHIBAUDO was knocked-off her board and had to play catch-up in the rest of the race.
Sarah-Quita OFFRINGA (Starboard / NeilPryde) led from the start line but fell when rounding the first mark in the lead. That left the door open for Karin JAGGI (F2 / North) to nose into the lead and take the race win. Verena Fauster (F2 / Gaastra) of Italy picked her way through the stragglers to bag second and Sarah HEBERT (Starboard / Naish) to claim third.
Race winner JAGGI executed a precision start and led the fleet along the first reach ahead of Iballa MORENO and OFFRINGA. At the third mark MORENO fell and slowed OFFRINGA down considerably as race runner-up GHIBAUDO skirted wide around the outside of them followed by HEBERT who earned third.
After a great start JAGGI fell at the first mark to allow Iballa MORENO to capitalize on her misfortune. But MORENO then fell herself at the third gybe to allow OFFRINGA into the lead. But the drama continued as OFFRINGA crashed at the next mark, as did MORENO, which allowed FAUSTER to get in front.
Perhaps unbelievably FAUSTER then fell entering the final reach, but recovered to overtake OFFRINGA and record a famous victory. OFFRINGA was sure to take second and JAGGI recovered well to steal third
After the seventh race excitement and mayhem JAGGI was in no mood for messing about in the ladies final race of the day. However there was more pandemonium on the cards when everyone bar Sarah HEBERT, who'd not had the greatest of starts, fell as Valerie GHIBAUDO blocked the racing line around the first mark.
HEBERT calmly glided around the traffic and into second place followed by Astrid MULDOON (JP / NeilPryde). Sarah-Quita OFFRINGA tried to overtake MULDOON along the third reach but fell at the gybe number three. Meanwhile JAGGI had extended her lead.
As JAGGI crossed the finish line there was an amazing struggle for the remaining places behind her along the last reach. HEBERT rounded that last mark in control but GHIBAUDO had recovered and streaked through the rest of the fleet into third and showed incredible speed along the final stretch to the finish line.
HEBERT just couldn't hold GHIBAUDO off and was forced to settle for third after the Frenchwomen's startling pace earned her a valuable second.
Holland's Pieter BIJL (Fanatic / NeilPryde), who sat in third overall last night, blew-out in the first semi-final after a crash at the second mark. Bjorn DUNKERBECK also crashed in the other semi-final, but he managed to recover and fight back into the third qualification spot.
The biggest surprise however of race 5 was Kevin PRITCHARD bowing-out early after he got tangled-up with Cyril MOUSSILMANI (Fanatic / North).
That set-up an exciting final for ALBEAU and DUNKERBECK who'd failed to make the final of the previous race.
ALBEAU and DUNKERBECK led the first reach followed closely by Finian MAYNARD (F2 / NeilPryde) as Patrick Diethelm (F2 / North) crashed behind them along the first reach. DUNKERBECK then fell at the second mark, which let MAYNARD into second.
By the third mark ALBEAU was still leading Maynard but Ross WILLIAMS had snuck into third place after breaking waves near the third mark called for huge amounts of skill to negotiate the course.
ALBEAU won after building a sizeable lead but on the final reach however, Peter VOLWATER (F2 / North) emerged from the final gybe and put the pedal to the metal to scream towards the finish second and overtake MAYNARD who had to settle for third.
The steady wind meant a half-fleet format was chosen for the day's final race. A lengthened course and speed reach along the beach made for a fresh perspective for the racers and spectators alike.
Bjorn DUNKERBECK's bad day in the new no-rules environment continued after he was knocked-off at the first mark and then got hit once again as he water started away leaving him unable to qualify for the 24-man final.
Kevin PRITCHARD led the race from start to finish after a trademark pin-end start, rounding the first mark in the lead before building a lead in clean air and undisturbed water. VOLWATER applied pressure on the first reach along with Ben van DER STEEN (Exocet / Naish) and ALBEAU worked his way into second by the second mark despite building surf making life difficult at the inside turns.
As PRITCHARD neared the finish line ALBEAU knew he just had to play it safe and ensure a solid finish after two poor races earlier and so happily settled for second to seal the event lead overnight. PRITCHARD's win redeemed his race 5 blooper and meant he moved into second overall in the event points rankings.
The forecast is good once more for racing tomorrow and so the race for the title promises to be scintillating.
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.