No waves halted progress on the wave tour, heightening the title race tension.
Sylt perhaps the sailors' favourite event on tour, has seen countless world titles won and lost, and the greatest rivalries settled during its 23 years of hosting the PWA's elite.
The record breaking crowds and their fanatical support for this sport were treated to bright sunshine this year, a pleasant change from the howling winds and pouring rain they have often braved to watch the best perform. However the light and tricky winds this time round gave the racers a technical challenge, and tested the patience of the wavesailing and freestyle fleets.
Light winds on day two gave the Slalom 42 competitors their first challenge, and almost immediately a handful of top dogs dropped out after equipment failure, mistakes and disqualification. Tour leader ALBEAU was disqualified for an incident before the start, and 2005 joint World Champion Bjorn DUNKERBECK (DEN) was judged to have sailed the course incorrectly. Disaster struck for Finian MAYNARD (IVB), winner of the last event in Turkey, when his boom exploded during the start sequence, seriously denting his claim to an end of year podium. Capitalizing on the others mistakes, BUZIANIS seized his chance and took a vital race win, followed by Arnon DAGAN (ISR) and light wind specialist Ross WILLIAMS (GBR). Another top seed Kevin PRITCHARD (USA), who entered this event ranked second overall, made the final but only rolled home in tenth after not finding the conditions to his liking.
A few days of still air followed with no on water action that had MAYNARD, DUNKERBECK, PRITCHARD and ALBEAU sweating it out in the Indian summer conditions, all eager for more races and the chance to use the first discard they would be entitled to after a fourth race.
The next chance for racing came on day six when rolling swells gave a challenging course for the racers to negotiate, which the heavyweight MAYNARD won despite the marginal breeze. The 115 kg British Virgin Islander described the conditions, and the pre-start hustle in the heaving seas as 'cut-throat racing'. BUZIANIS claimed second and local boy Bernd FLESSNER (GER) showed he is still a force to be reckoned with by coming third.
The third Race had stronger winds and gave DUNKERBECK a chance to avenge his previous performances. Without hesitation he dominated and seized his chance, putting massive distance between himself, PRITCHARD and ALBEAU.
The final race once more favoured the light air specialists, but BUZIANIS still had enough skill to beat many who weighed less then him to the finish line. ALBEAU too bucked his trend in favouring stronger winds by claiming second. Florent RENARD (FRA), an impressive new face on tour, who turns out to be ALBEAU's neighbour on their native Isle de Re, came third, and will no doubt be a force to be reckoned with in future seasons. Also impressive on his first Slalom 42 event was a familiar face in the wavesailing scene, Klaas VOGET (GER). Using tuned down versions of the production equipment eligible for racing, VOGET soundly beat many seasoned campaigners, and will be much feared if he is on tour again in 2007!
With no further racing BUZIANIS racked up enough points to win the event leaving ALBEAU in second, and DAGAN's consistency was rewarded with his third place finish. Just prior to the prize giving, BUZIANIS excitedly said, 'After the tough start to the year, and with all the changes I've made by joining new sponsors, this is probably the sweetest victory I've ever had! Having my coach Scott SANCHEZ here really helped me focus, and the only thing that could have made it sweeter would be to have my family here!' BUZIANIS arrived at this event ranked fourth and this hard fought, determined performance showed what a focussed competitor he is.
ALBEAU polished off a sterling year for in which he started in spectacular style in Gran Canaria, taking an astonishing eleven wins from twelve races. Clearly not finding the lighter wind events to his liking, he has stayed motivated to do everything possible to maintain his tour lead, and this Slalom 42 victory trophy sits suitably alongside his 2006 Super-X world title. A cool and collected ALBEAU said today, 'My objective for the world tour this year was to win in the Slalom 42 and Super-X, and as I've achieved that I'm pretty stoked! It was a special year for me with four good events in Slalom, the last three involving great battles, but I kept mistakes to a minimum and managed two firsts, and two seconds which was enough to see me home.'
Despite some breeze giving tantalizingly close conditions for competition, no official result was determined, and so the crew held a Super Session to entertain the crowds, which they certainly did, throwing an amazing display of the latest tricks. ESTREDO won the session that was judged on the best move performed, with Thomas TRAVERSA (FRA) in second and Kiri THODE (NED) in third.
Despite the lack of result in Germany, tour leader ESTREDO at just 17 took the year end freestyle trophy away from three-times winner Ricardo CAMPELLO (VEN), making history in the process and showing just what focus and hard work can achieve. An emotional young winner told us, 'I'm really happy for this victory. I really wanted this title more than anything, and so all I've done is trained hard and worked hard everyday to achieve it. I've spent so many hours on the water since last year, and just tried to keep my concentration all along.'
Sadly no waves appeared on the horizon and the wavesailors were denied their chance to impress. Kevin PRITCHARD remains tour leader ahead of Josh ANGULO (USA) and Kauli SEADI (BRA). ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year nominee Daida MORENO (ESP) leads the women's tour from Karin JAGGI (SUI) and Iballa MORENO (ESP).
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.
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