Albeau seals the deal (pic: PWA / Carter)
The Sylt PWA 2004 Labello Grand Slam Day 7
Saturday October 2, 2004
The overnight heavy rain and stormy skies rapidly cleared this morning to leave a bustling hive of activity on the beach as sailors prepared their equipment for another day of epic Sylt racing. Coming into today’s first race, UK sailor Ross Williams (Starboard, Gaastra) led the event by just one point ahead of France’s Antoine Albeau (AHD, Neil Pryde), but with only three and a half points separating the top three sailors, the battle for victory would be tight and hard fought.
Just as the fleet blasted over the line for the first race of the day and the eleventh race of the contest, the sun broke through the clouds, bathing the course in glorious sunshine. Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (F2, Neil Pryde) was back on the pace, leading the fleet to the windward mark, with Albeau - his sights firmly set on victory - close behind in second. Steve Allen (Fanatic, Neil Pryde) in third, stood firmly in the way of a desperate Williams who was beginning to see his chances of victory slipping away before his eyes. The downwind leg saw no change at the top apart from the appearance of Arnan Dagan (Fanatic) who had slipped past Williams to move up to fourth.
Although Williams was stuck in traffic behind him, Albeau still did not have time to relax and instead stepped up a gear, getting the better of Costa Hoevel to round windward on the second lap in first position. With clear air and ocean ahead, France’s finest was in an insurmountable position and led the dance all the way to take his fourth race win of the event.
After a short break to lengthen the course and give the sailors time to recover from the blistering pace of race eleven, it was back to the water for race twelve. The Argentinean flag was once again flying at the front of the fleet as Costa Hoevel set the pace and led the fleet to the first mark. Albeau however, was back in fourth trying to fend off Pieter Bijl (Fanatic, Neil Pryde) at the same time as tying to get the drop on Boulon and Pritchard ahead of him. Williams was nowhere to be seen until the second downwind when he finally caught up to sixth, but by now, Boulon, Albeau and Bijl had got the better of Pritchard leaving Williams well out of contention. Costa Hoevel just managed to hold off a concerted attack from Boulon, long enough to take the race win, with Bijl, Allen and Albeau just seconds behind.
The final race of the day would follow the same course as race twelve. The disappointment of the previous race had obviously motivated Albeau, who now took off with a vengeance. Upwind mark, downwind mark, Albeau led from start to finish. The battle behind him was in full swing though as Boulon and Costa Hoevel traded places with Buzianis and Allen with an occasional guest appearance from Bernd Flesner (F2, Neil Pryde) and Finian Maynard (F2, Naish). In the end it was Costa Hoevel on Albeau’s heels as they crossed the finish line but Allen had done enough on the last lap to take third and Williams had come from nowhere again to slip quietly into fourth.
With five race wins under his belt, Albeau is now in an unassailable position at the top of the event ranking despite a possible further race tomorrow. Conditions here in Sylt have begun to improve for Wave Performance and an early start is planned for 8am Sunday to take advantage of the early morning forecast. Whatever happens, all eyes will be on Germany’s North Sea cost tomorrow, to see who will become the new PWA Wave World Champion.