The fourth day of competition at the Nivea World Cup Sylt 2005 proved to be the most inconsistent so far. With winds varying widely in both strength and direction and the weather changing from blazing sun to pouring rain, it took a full day to complete two rounds of Slalom 42 racing.
The morning started off very promising with a brisk wind sweeping across the Westerland beach in the minutes before the start. But right as the riders in the first heat were about to cross the starting line, the wind unexpectedly dropped putting the show on hold until conditions improved.
Once they did an hour later, the first heat got underway, but as it turned out, the wind had shifted in such a way that the course had become impossible for several riders to complete. The second heat was started regardless, but was cancelled mid-heat due to lack of wind. Both heats were to be re-sailed later on.
Another hour later, the heat was back on as an incoming squall produced heavy rain and pumping winds. Again, the wind had shifted unfortunately, leaving the fleet incapable of rounding the buoys, forcing the race committee to cancel again.
At 14:00 things were given yet another go, but for the fourth time running heat # 1 got cancelled, this time due to lack of wind. Half an hour later, round 5 finally got going with heat # 2, followed shortly by another re-sail of heat # 1. Bizarrely enough, this re-sail was cancelled also as another squall caused a fatal change in wind direction, knocking down several riders in the process.
After that, things started running more smoothly, with all heats being completed right up to the final of round 5. Biggest upsets were Kevin PRITCHARD (US-3, Starboard/ MauiSails) not making it through to the final and yesterday's man of the day Bjorn DunKerbeck (E-11, North Sails), also not managing to make it through to the last ten riders.
In the final it was Micah BUZIANIS (USA-34, F2/ North Sails) who dominated the race. Antoine ALBEAU (F-192, Neil Pryde) missed out on the final because of a broken mast right before the start, leaving the door open for BUZIANIS to clean out the field. France's Cyril MOUSSILMANI (F-71, Fanatic) sailed his way onto the second podium spot, while Peter VOLWATER (H-24, F2) claimed third position before his compatriot Pieter BIJL (NED-0, Fanatic/ Neil Pryde) and Arnon DAGAN (ISR-1, Fanatic/ Neil Pryde).
Round number six was sailed in stable 12-17 knot winds. Heat after heat was wrapped up without any major meteorological issues until the final, in which Kevin PRITCHARD (US-3, Starboard/ MauiSails) was in the lead rounding the first mark. Pieter BIJL (NED-0, Fanatic/ Neil Pryde) and Bjorn DUNKERBECK (E-11, North Sails) were right on his tail, looking to overtake the American. While disaster struck for Bijl, crashing shortly after the first buoy because of a snapped harness line, DUNKERBECK stuck on PRITCHARD like glue together with Antoine ALBEAU (F-192, Neil Pryde). At the fourth buoy however, DUNKERBECK was unable to get back on a plane fast enough and had to watch both ALBEAU and Micah BUZIANIS (USA-34, F2/ North Sails) pass him by. Meanwhile Pritchard was keeping it cool and finish the race in first position, before ALBEAU, BUZIANIS, DUNKERBECK and Steve ALLEN (AUS-0, Fanatic/ Neil Pryde). Local hero Bernd FLESSNER (G-16, F2/ Neil Pryde) was forced to pull out because of a broken mast.
After two days of Slalom 42 action, Bjorn DUNKERBECK (E-11, North Sails) is still well in the lead, followed by Antoine ALBEAU (F-192, Neil Pryde) in second and Micah BUZIANIS (USA-34, F2/ North Sails) in third position. The competition is far from over yet, anything can still happen. Tomorrow (Thursday) morning promises to produce some radical wave sailing conditions. It's going to be an early day for the wave riders, as skippers' meeting is scheduled for 07:30.