The 2005 Fuerteventura PWA Slalom 42 World Cup – Day 8
Saturday July 30, 2005
The final day’s competition at Sotavento was destined for drama right from the outset. Bjorn Dunkerbeck (North) needed to win the final race in order to have a chance of surpassing Micah Buzianis (F2, North) to win the contest, but that would also rely on the prevailing event leader finishing third or worse.
Likewise in the women’s division, Valerie Ghibaudo had to come in at least second in order to have a chance of regaining her lead over Karin Jaggi (F2), but that in turn would require Jaggi to finish 4th or worse, something which, barring disaster, was unlikely.
With solid winds across the beach by early afternoon, the course was set for a half fleet giant slalom to end the week with style. Two twenty four man heats would blast along the 1000m speed leg into the first gybe before battling it out round the following 3 gybes, and finishing at the beach.
In heat number one, Dunkerbeck used his superhuman speed to stretch out a significant lead along the first reach and safely into the final after leading the entire heat ahead of Benoit Moussilmani (Tabou, Gaastra), Ben Vander Steen (Neil Pryde) and Antoine Albeau (Neil Pryde).
With Dunkerbeck qualifying so easily, the pressure was now on Buzianis who was not even guaranteed of having a chance to defend his lead if he did not make it into the top twelve of heat two. As the massed pack of the second heat reached the first gybe it was Cyril Moussilmani (Fanatic) who led, with Ross Williams (Starboard, Gaastra) and Patrick Diethelm in close pursuit. Buzianis meanwhile, was battling it out in around tenth position, desperately trying to get clear of the chaos that ensued as the bulk of the pack hit the mark simultaneously. Whether it was luck or years of experience , somehow Buzianis kept his line and came through the confusion unscathed, eventually qualifying safely in eighth.
And so it came to be that the outcome of the 2005 Fuerteventura PWA Slalom 42 World Cup would rest on the finishing positions of two men. Dunkerbeck’s start was again flawless taking a perfect line from the pin end of the start and setting a blistering pace along the first, very broad reach. Finian Maynard (F2, Naish) was also at top speed in the stronger winds and suddenly appeared right on Dunkerbeck’s tail from much higher upwind. Arnon Dagan (Fanatic, Neil Pryde) came in close behind at the first mark, but lost it on the gybe, creating a bottleneck which Buzianis slipped through to move up to third.
Dunkerbeck now had a solid lead and was out of reach of his pursuers, but he was not out of danger. If Buzianis could catch Maynard then it was all over for Dunkerbeck. Maynard was flying and Buzianis could do no more than keep up along the straights. At the gybes however, Buzianis was the master tactician and consistently made up ground gybing tight inside and coming out with speed. By the time Maynard and Buzianis reached the final outside gybe, Dunkerbeck was so far ahead that he was nearly across the finish line, but the battle for event victory was still raging on the outside. Maynard’s final gybe was less than perfect and Buzianis capitalized, gibing smoothly on a wave to come out onto the final reach, neck and neck with Maynard. As Buzianis slipped effortlessly into the straps and began to accelerate, Maynard, flustered by the pressure from behind, clumsily moved about the board losing speed and giving Buzianis the opportunity he needed.
Whilst the crowds on the beach celebrated Dunkerbeck’s race win, Buzianis already knew that he had done enough. Maynard also succeeded in his aim to move ahead of 2004 PWA Racing Champion, Albeau, who finished sixth with Dan Ellis (Fanatic, Naish) coming in a very respectable fourth.
For the women it was another demonstration of why Karin Jaggi has won so many titles in her illustrious career. Despite the tough course and the challenging conditions, she once again opened up a significant lead over Ghibaudo, who gave her all to try and regain the lead which once seemed so securely hers. Jaggi was simply too fast and too clean leading squarely through the course and putting the final nail in the coffin of Ghibaudo’s dreams of event glory. Verena Fauster (F2, Gaastra) came in third, with Allison Shreeve (F2, Neil Pryde in fourth.
As well as taking honors in the opening round of the PWA Slalom 42 Tour, Jaggi and Buzianis will also be crowned IFCA World Slalom Champions at tonight’s prize giving party. The PWA tour now takes a brief interval for a few weeks until the show moves on to Northern Germany for the Nivea World Cup Sylt.