Sean O’Brien’s report from the racing yesterday:
After completing the heats late yesterday evening we began the quarter finals of Round 5 this morning with very gusty winds from 10-25 knots. The racing was delayed an hour as the wind settled and despite a lighter forecast, we were again down on our medium boards and 7.0/7.8m. The quarter finals rolled through with the usual suspects but the real action began in the first semi final, with Josh Angulo and Bjorn Dunkerbeck taking the best starts at the pin end. En route to the first gybe, Bjorn was sitting a little higher than Josh and decided to push down on Josh to force him in to the mark by leaning his sail on Josh’s head! Josh isn’t one to take things lightly and he fought hard to push Bjorn’s sail up with his mast… eventually Bjorn lost control of his rig coming in to the mark and in a spectacular crash, Josh’s rig tore through the leach of Bjorn’s sail and shredded the entire panel from leach to mast-pocket – both sailors were in the water and out of the winner’s final – and Bjorn without a 7.8m for this round!
With those two big guns out, it was the Antoine Albeau show in the winner’s final and again he led start to finish with young Frenchman Pascal Toselli hot on his heels the entire way. Pascal had only the last straight to take a 2nd place in this final (his best result ever) however Ben Van Der Steen wasn’t too keen on letting Antoine get any points clearer ahead and put an incredible final gybe in and managed to blitz Pascal on the final run to the finish line, beating him on in the last few metres to take 2nd in this round!
We kept coming home in the evenings from the beach and seeing these amazing John Carter photos taken from hundreds of metres in the air, wondering where they came from as we didn’t really remember seeing a helicopter on the course, or even hear it! And then, late in the afternoon as Round 6 began, we saw it. Some incredible helicopter/plane hybrid thing that looked like it would fall out of the sky at ANY SECOND. Hovering above the course like a bottle floating in the ocean, with Carter strapped in to the back with the cameras, click, click, click. I’ve always had respect for JC but now I have more than ever – either that or he has a death wish! Incredible pictures but!
Round 6 started in a similar fashion to 5, with less crashes this time but a lot more PMS’. Bora Kozanoglu, Patrik Diethelm, Sylvain Moussilmani were all casualties in one particular quarter final. Down to the winners final again it was Antoine showing his dominance at this event. He hasn’t looked particularly quick at earlier events this season, and has failed to win an event so far this year even with Bjorn making an early exit in Korea and not quite dominating like he did last year over the season point score.
Ross Williams was off the line quickest in the winner’s final with Josh Angulo before Albeau managed to pass them both in the first gybe going a little wider and lower and stayed at the front for the remainder of the race. Williams nearly hung on to Albeau by the 2nd mark, however he was swamped Dunkerbeck, Van Der Steen and Angulo which allowed Albeau to get further and further ahead in clear wind. With 4 guys battling for 2nd in to the last gybe, Williams came out the cleanest and managed to hold on to his 2nd overall in this final in front of Dunkerbeck, Van Der Steen then Angulo.
Once again, the decision was made to race the first 8 heats of the new round (Number 7) before pulling the plug for the day. I had a difficult heat and despite blitzing the start and arriving 2nd to the first mark behind Albeau, I was passed by Pierre Montefon and Ross Williams on the final runs and had to settle for 5th. Kinda not really enjoying this event as much as the beautiful location should lend itself too! Tomorrow is another day though…
Check out Sean’s previous reports below…