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27 September 2002, 12:29 pm
Pritchard Closes In On Albeau
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Kevin Pritchard©PWA/Williams

Sylt, PWA Grand Slam

Rain was the alarm call yesterday morning but by the time skippers meeting was underway for the wave sailors at 10 a.m. the skies had cleared.
The swell was similar to the previous day, so almost enough for wave competition were it not for a distinct lack of wind. All hold again for the wave sailors, time to take up positions in the dunes and get ready to guess the top five for Toasty's sweep for the next race. Racers briefing at noon saw an improvement with 6 to 10 knots in the course area. Once again, behaving in the true gentlemen's fashion that we have become accustomed to, Race Director Klaus Michael sent the Women out for their 9th race of the championship.

Race 9 - Women

With the wind strength now in the 7 to 9 knot band, the women had the course to themselves once more.
The sea state favored Lucy Horwood (AHD/Gaastra) but the wind strength suited Dorota Staszewska (Starboard/Gaastra). Dorota has a convincing lead at this point of the contest so Lucy needed a repeat of yesterday's victory to start putting the pressure back on the Polish no.1. Dorota had other ideas though and by the windward mark, was 50 meters clear of Lucy who was hotly pursued by Christine Johnston (Starboard/Neil Pryde). Christine overhauled Lucy on the downwind leg and gained on Dorota. Second time around Dorota found a second gear and rocketed to the windward mark, extended her lead again to over 200 meters. The two British girls were battling it out between themselves, Lucy Horwood rounding ahead of Christine Johnston who, carrying 11m2 managed to go deeper downwind and make it to the inside first but had less speed from the gybe and Lucy easily passed her on the final reach. French rider Geraldine Jambert (Starboard) and Italy's Verena Fauster (Starboard/Gaastra) had a photo finish for 4th position with Geraldine just edging it.

Race 10 - Women

The wind was now gusting through a little stronger, up to 16 knots at times. This gave Lucy Horwood a little more speed and enabled her to tussle closely all the way round with Dorota. Lucy rounded the last gybe mark just ahead of Dorota with only a 500-meter reach to go. It was neck and neck all the way to the wire. Dorota got a nose ahead to take the victory to force Lucy back into that all to familiar second spot. Geraldine Jambert followed up in third, posting her best result of the contest so far.

"I was so close to getting that one but as I rounded the last gybe and went to pull on a little more outhaul, I somehow got my finger stuck in the cleat. Doh!"

"I am very pleased that it has all come together so well at exactly the right time."

With only five possible races to go Dorota has an unassailable lead and is currently counting perfect 8 first places from 10 races with 2 discards. The battle for the second and third slots looks set to continue to the bitter end and could go either way.

Women's rankings after 10 races
1. Dorota Staszewska (Starboard/ Neil Pryde) 5.6 pts
2. Lucy Horwood (AHD/Gaastra) 14.4 pts
3. Christine Johnston (Starboard/Neil Pryde) 20.0 pts.

Race 9 - men

The men's fleet is in completely different circumstances, with everything to play for, each race is becoming more critical than the last. Only 16 points separate the top five and in such a competitive fleet consistency is a rare commodity. Antoine Albeau (AHD/Neil Pryde) has led the field from day one and has also been the most consistent sailor with 3 victories and his two discards currently a seventh and a fifth. Antoine has seen his leading margin eroded by an improving Kevin Pritchard (Bic/Gaastra) who is now only 4 points behind.

After one general recall the fleet got away cleanly with the port end of the line favored by the main contenders. At the windward mark it was Israel's Arnon Dagan (Fanatic) showing the way about 5 board lengths in front of Wojtek Brzozowski (Starboard/Neil Pryde) and Kevin Pritchard. The top three remained unchanged for the downwind leg despite Wojtek's best efforts by heading lower and pumping like a machine. Antoine Albeau was feeling the pressure back in 8th place but he never gives up and was giving it everything. For the second lap Antoine and countryman Patrice Belbeoc'h chose to take the right side with the rest of the fleet favoring the left, which looked a better choice from the beach. Antoine must have realized this and tacked off up the middle of the course to cover the pack.

Second time at the windward mark and Wojtek had snagged 1st position with Arnon and Kevin not far behind. Antoine was up to 7th through sheer determination. The downwind blast to the line saw the top three unchanged with Wojtek getting 50 meters clear. Steve Allen (Fanatic) filled the no. 4 spot followed by Micah Buzianis (Mistral/North) and Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard/Neil Pryde) ahead of Antoine.

"My 12.5m2 Brazil sail is holding up well and I have really good speed downwind so I was confident I could hold on once I got ahead. I am happy with all my results and I have been working very hard training before this event. Slowly I am getting better and better each day."

ARNON DAGAN, with a big grin on his face,
"I was always copying Wojtek these last days but this time he copied me! He tried to punish me on the first downwind but he went too low and I nearly held him off."

Men's rankings after 9 races

1. Antoine Albeau (AHD/ Neil Pryde) 16.1 pts.
2. Kevin Pritchard (Bic/Gaastra) 18.4 pts
3. Wojtek Brzozowski (Starboard/Neil Pryde) 27.4 pts
4. Steve Allen (Fanatic) 27.7 pts
5. Phil McGain (Gaastra) 33.7 pts.
6. Micah Buzianis (Mistral/North) 40.5 pts.

Vivienne Masters/ISAF News Editor
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