The Sylt PWA 2004 Labello Grand Slam drew to an exciting conclusion here yesterday with a dramatic final race in front of thousands of spectators lining the beaches here in Westerland, Germany.
The predicted conditions to finish off both men's and women's wave performance failed to materialize here this morning but 10-14 knot side shore winds and a lumpy North Sea provided the perfect stage to finish the final race of the third event on this years Nestea PWA world windsurf racing tour.
After French all rounder Antoine ALBEAU (Neil Pryde, AHD), sealed event victory on the previous day the pressure was all on Australian racer Steve ALLEN (Fanatic, Neil Pryde) to fend off the challenge from Britain's Ross WILLIAMS (Gaastra, Starboard), in the fight for second place. With one race remaining to complete a maximum of 14 allowed at a Grand Slam, race director Klaus MICHAEL set the marks close to the beach with the course designed to keep the element enduring crowds riveted to the action.
With the atmosphere tense out on the start line it was Devon BOULON (F2) of the US Virgin Islands who was on the money, leading the fleet towards the upwind mark, with Ross Williams hot on his heels in second, Kevin PRITCHARD (Starboard, Gaastra) third, Pieter BIJL (Fanatic, Neil Pryde) fourth and then Steve ALLEN chasing back in fifth. On the downwind leg Williams hit gas and stepped up into overdrive overtaking Boulon who fell as he gibed in the shore break. With the door wide open with Boulon in the water Pritchard and Allen also passed, both fighting tooth and nail to catch the wake of Williams out in the lead. Williams held his nerve and stormed around the rest of the course winning the race comfortably ahead of team mate Kevin PRITCHARD in second slot and Allen in third. Tense moments passed on the beach while the overall rankings were calculated, before Williams found out today's bullet had been enough to clinch him the second slot on the podium fractionally ahead of Steve ALLEN who was forced to settle for third.
With no official wave competition taking place yesterday, Aussie Wave guru Scott McKercher (Starboard) otherwise known as 'Gramps', has become the 2004 PWA men's overall world champion, ahead of Norwegian Vidar JENSEN (North) in second and ex world champion Bjorn DUNKERBECK (Neil Pryde) in third. McKercher drew from his years of competition experience to win earlier in the year in Pozo, Gran Canaria and did enough here in Sylt to finish in equal first with fifteen other sailors with the combined results clinching him this years title. MCKERCHER (33) was modest in his victory and plans to stick around in Europe for the next few weeks before hitting Hawaii in November to catch the first of the Pacific winter swells!
With no women's wave action taking place here in Germany, the winning performance of Daida MORENO (Mistral, North) at her home break in Gran Canaria back in August, proved enough for here to retain her status as women's overall world wave champion. Daida's, twin sister Iballa MORENO (Mistral, North) finished second overall with Karin JAGGI (F2, Arrows) of Switzerland taking third. Both Moreno sisters are also off to Hawaii in November while Jaggi is planning to stay in Europe and attempt to break the women's speed sailing world record.
The remaining event on this years PWA world tour will be the final of the Nestea PWA world racing tour due to take place in Almanarre between the 17th and 23rd of October. As it stands Steve Allen leads the rankings but with Antoine Albeau on fire here in Germany the race is on for the title, which is sure to go down to the wire in France. Stay tuned to the PWA web site at the address below for all the latest, pictures, news and results when the event kicks off later this month.