Competitors arrived at the beach this morning bearing the scars of battle and weary from their previous day's endeavours on the race course. In no time at all, it was clear that we were set for another excellent day of racing.
By the first mark, them men's fleet was in comparable disarray, with Gonzalo Costa HOEVEL (F2, Neil Pryde) leading the march to windward. Ross WILLIAMS (Starboard, Gaastra) was seemingly back on the pace in second and the likes of Devon BOULON (F2) and Antoine ALBEAU (AHD, Neil Pryde) were not far behind. Albeau's speed delivered him well downwind and by the leeward mark he had consolidated his position to third behind Williams, passing Boulon in the process.
Costa HOEVEL however, was not to be stopped and he continued to pull away from his English, French and Virgin Island pursuers. Williams had also found the form that had served him so well in Sylt a few weeks ago and he showed no mercy to Albeau, who was under extreme pressure from Boulon on the way back to the top of the course. With Costa HOEVEL and Williams safely across the finish line it was Boulon who finally got the better of the current event leader to take third, with Albeau being forced to settle for fourth.
Having seen her hopes of a PWA World Title slipping away from her yesterday, Alison SHREEVE (F2) would have to dig deep and find some inner strength if she wished to revitalize her dreams today and dig deep she did! As the ladies rounded the first mark Shreeve was back in the driving seat with a frustrated Dorota STASZEWSKA (Starboard, Gaastra) charging hard behind. Lucy HORWOOD (Fanatic, North) was consistent as ever and did not let the leaders out of her sight. Staszewska managed to outgun Shreeve on the way back downwind and overtook by the leeward mark, but the Australian was not about to quit and sailed perfect upwind leg to retake control of the race and eventually win ahead of Staszewska and Horwood.
With no time to relax, it was straight into race number 6 the first leg of which was heavily Polish dominated. Przemek MIARCZYNSKI was the unexpected visitor in first at the windward mark, ahead of Boulon, Pawel HLAVATY and Wojtek BRZOZOWSKI (Starboard, Neil Pryde). Williams made up the top 5 at windward, but unfortunately for Poland the wind dropped and the race committee had no choice but to abandon the race.
To add insult to injury, Williams and Hlavaty both pushed too hard on the restart for race 6 and put themselves out of the running, going over the line early, leaving the way for Costa Hoevel to take the lead once more. Brzozowski was up there again in second this time joined by Allen (Fanatic, Neil Pryde) and Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra). The tactical downwind section played into Allen's hands giving the Aussie veteran the lead and Pritchard also moved up ahead of Costa HOEVEL and Brzozowski.
Upwind was obviously the strongest weapon in Costa HOEVEL'S armoury and he recovered all the ground he had lost, sliding back into the lead before the second upwind. Brzozowski also enjoyed a very successful beat, leaving Pritchard and Allen trying to work out what had gone wrong. Eventually, it was Brzozowski who dominated the third and final upwind to steal victory from the South American, with Pritchard, Allen and Boulon following behind.
The battle in the women's division had been significantly fuelled by Shreeve's win in the previous race. Staszewska, now with the taste of victory firmly back in her mouth, was out to prove a point and took firm control of the course on the upwind leg. Shreeve was stuck to her Polish opposition like glue and once on the downwind she opened up the throttle streaking past her adversary. The two girls traded positions back and forth, with Horwood all the time consistent in third, but again it was Sheeve who kept her nose in front to take another win and rekindle her chances of championship victory.
In the race for the 2004 men's title, Albeau was still very much on top and in the women's division Shreeve had snuck ahead following her 2 race wins of the day. Aware of this the pressure was now on the would-be champions to hold their nerve in the coming races and protect their position. In contrast the remaining outside title contenders had more motivation to go out there and seize their chance at glory and steal victory from the current leaders.
However, it was not to be. After lunch the conditions deteriorated significantly and the event went into a holding pattern, remaining on standby until 5 o'clock when competition was finally called off.
Competition at this, the final event of the Nestea PWA 2004 World Windsurf Racing Tour, could not be tighter with two World Championships up for grabs and at least seven people in with a shot. Even so, with a possible nine races remaining here in France, Albeau and Shreeve are nowhere near out of the woods.