Antoine ALBEAU and Karin JAGGI outshone the opposition to claim the top spots at the Catalunya Costa Brava PWA Slalom World Cup, slalom's second stop on the World Tour.
Situated at the foot of the breathtaking Pyrenean mountains, The Bay of Roses welcomed windsurfing's elite athletes to its shores for the second clash on the Slalom calendar, from the 10-15 of June.
Celebrating a decade of competition, La Ballena Alegre 2 campsite once again opened its doors to host the Catalunya Costa Brava PWA Slalom World Cup. Famed for its electric atmosphere, the event attracts fans from all over Europe who come to rub shoulders with their idols at the weeklong windsurfing extravaganza.
The first day of competition kicked off with the registration of the mammoth men's and women's slalom fleets. A whopping total of 66 men and 21 women registered, making one of the biggest slalom fleets to compete in a PWA event in the last eight years.
While conditions on day one stayed too light to compete, most of the sailors took the time out to tweak and tune their gear in preparation for the arrival of the wind, which was forecast for the forthcoming days. Day two of competition greeted competitors to the beach with clear blue skies and a gentle Mediterranean breeze. An epic forecast for the following day allowed the sailors to briefly soak up the Spanish way of life before the imminent the following day. Day three's much talked about forecast didn't disappoint, offering up daylong slalom perfection for the sailors to lay waste to.
Race 1- The Games Begin
Launching into action on day three, competitors hit the racecourse to do battle in hammering Tramontana winds, gusting in excess of 30 knots.
The early rounds delivered a sizable dose of action, including heat two's battle of old versus young, where Bjorn DUNKERBECK (SUI) jostled with Robby SWIFT (GBR). The pair took turns breathing down each other's necks as they negotiated the course at breakneck speeds. SWIFT was eventually rewarded for his savvy decision-making, claiming victory ahead of DUNKERBECK.
First blood of the day was drawn by Antoine ALBEAU (FRA), who demolished the competition as he cleared a path to the final, and secured victory in the first elimination.
Kevin PRITCHARD (USA) dominated his heats with trademark fast and consistent sailing, rewarding him with a well deserved second place, and Finian MAYNARD (IVB) capitalized on his blistering straight line pace to claim third.
In the women's eliminations, the first shock of the day came when Iballa MORENO (ESP), who'd been tipped to do big things in this event, was knocked out in the first of the semi-finals following some iritic decision making at the gybe marks.
Valerie GHIBAUDO (FRA) opened up the throttle to win both her semi final and the final. Hot on her heels, Karin JAGGI (SUI) showed determination to take second place, ahead of Japan's Ayako SUZUKI in third.
Race 2 - The Tramontana Howls
Race 2 produced ample helpings of fast and furious action, as slalom's big guns made it their business to stop ALBEAU's relentless run of form. The first upsets came in round two, when ALBEAU's protégé Julien QUENTEL
(FRA) and Cedric BORDES (FRA) unexpectedly exited the race early when they failed to qualify in their respective heats.
Leading the charge to stop ALBEAU's rampage of first place finishes was Micah BUZIANIS (USA), who slayed rivals with machine like precision to claim victory ahead of ALBEAU in second, and Frenchman Sylvain MOUSSILMANI in third.
The second of the women's eliminations saw JAGGI's experience reign supreme, as she pieced together a tenacious run to claim first place. MORENO bounced back from her first elimination shocker to take second, and ex-RSX racer Lee KORZITS
(ISR) took third place honours.
Race 3 - The last chance
The third back-to-back elimination pushed the sailors to the limit, with a cool head required to succeed within a fleet of fully dialled sailors. Fronting up to the challenge was Argentinean Gonzalo Costa HOEVEL who muscled past the likes of DUNKERBECK, BORDES and Micah BUZIANIS (USA) to secure second in the race final. MAYNARD's determination rewarded him with third, but the undisputed story of the day was ALBEAU, who delivered a near perfect run of heats to claim his second race win of the day, and cement his position at the top of the podium.
The losers final witnessed an interesting chain of events, when six of the eight finalists crossed the start line early, leaving only PRITCHARD and Steve ALLEN
(AUS) left to compete in the surreal match race. Pritchard seized the opportunity to showcase his skills and came away with the victory.
The day concluded with the third of the women's eliminations. The ensuing bout saw age old rivals, JAGGI and GHIBAUDO advance from their respective heats, paving the way for an exciting final showdown.
However, the final was to take an unpredicted turn, when JAGGI and GHIBAUDO both went over the start line early, opening the door for Iballa MORENO to steal her first victory of the contest, with KORZITZ coming in second, and France's Alice ArUtkin in third.
Day four served up some testing conditions for the fourth elimination. Unfortunately rain, thunder, and lightening called a premature end to proceedings, but not before Sylvain MOUSSILMANI (FRA), Nicolas RENARD (FRA) Antoine QUESTEL (FRA) and Ben VAN DER STEEN (NED) had the chance to progress from heat one.
Overcast skies meant the remaining two days of competition were spent frustratingly waiting for the wind to arrive, and with the event's deadline drawing ever closer, the race committee announced the end of the event on the afternoon of day six, writing this awe inspiring chapter into the chronicles of the 2008 season.
PWA World Tour - www.pwaworldtour.com