The 2006 Colgate PWA World Cup Sylt, Day Six
Micah Buzianis (US-34 JP / NeilPryde) stamps his authority on the Slalom 42 here in Sylt, with an awesome example of determination during today’s three exciting races. Meanwhile tour leader Antoine Albeau (F192 Starboard / NeilPryde) profits from the first discard to claw his way back into second. Consistency rewards Arnon Dagan (ISR-1, Fanatic / NeilPryde) who earns his third place status ahead of British race specialist Ross Williams (GBR-83 Tabou / Gaastra) in fourth. The Wave and Freestyle riders must wait even further for suitable conditions.
15 knots of cross-shore breeze motivated Race Director Juan Antonio Aragon to set an exciting 5 leg downwind course through rolling swell and breaking waves for the Slalom 42 fleet.
First on the agenda was the completion of race 2. The only real surprises from the early heats were the failure of Matt Pritchard (US-10 Tabou / Gaastra) and Steve Allen (AUS-0 Tabou / Gaastra) to qualify for the finals. Pritchard, obviously disappointed with his performance, made no mistakes as he confidently won the losers final ahead of Jimmy Diaz (ISV-11 F2 / North).
Kevin Pritchard (US-3 Starboard / MauiSails) changed from his trade mark down wind start and chose the boat end for the start of the race 3 final. He flew off the line first but it was Finian Maynard (KV-11 F2 / NeilPryde) who motored along the first reach, as Bjorn Dunkerbeck (E-11, T1 / North) steamed through the rest of the pack behind them. Maynard rounded the first gybe in the lead as many floundered behind him in the light winds, struggling to gain enough exit speed into the second reach. There was a similar story in at the second mark as Pritchard and Dunkerbeck in particular struggled to keep up momentum. Maynard kept his cool to take the win as Buzianis rolled home in second and Bernd Flessner (G-16, F2/ Neil Pryde) cheered by the local crowds claimed third position.
Maynard said afterwards: “It was super cut-throat racing actually with all the swells out there at the start, which made it quite technical as to how you controlled your acceleration and deceleration approaching the line. But eventually I had a decent start about three/quarters of the way towards the (Downwind) pin end, and had good speed on the first leg where the guy in front of me hesitated before rounding the first mark. I managed to keep composed and sailed my own race from there on, taking the angles that suited me and then using those same swells to my advantage out in the open without any traffic around me”
Kevin Pritchard comments on the struggle at the first mark. “The wind was so light at that mark. I was near Antoine and I think he and some others collided as they struggled to stay on the plane, and keep control through that turn”
The third race was called straight away to make the most of the available conditions, and once more Matt Pritchard lost out on a winner’s final spot, before dominating the loser’s final with an impressive performance.
In the final Kevin Pritchard started well at his usual Pin end along with Dunkerbeck who flew along the first reach, showing clear motivation to improve on his previous result. He rounded the first mark in the lead followed by Pritchard, while Maynard failed to plane away from the gybe, despite furious efforts to pump his sail into life. By the third reach Dunkerbeck extended his lead, this time in front of Albeau and Dagan who’d passed Pritchard at the second mark. With Dunkerbeck home and dry in first, the battle ensued for the runners up spot. First Albeau took Dagan on the inside of the third gybe, before Pritchard pulled away from Albeau on the final reach. Dunkerbeck had by now won easily and Pritchard kept in front of Albeau to cross in second as Albeau finished third.
There was a short break as the wind backed off before rising to a contestable level again for the fourth race, and the vital milestone of the first discard, which allows competitors to throw away their worst result so far. This was particularly relevant to tour leader Albeau who until today was placed 45th at this event.
The most notable absence from the finals of race 4 was Bjorn Dunkerbeck, who just missed out on the 6th and final slot from the second semi-final, due to an excellent showing from compatriot and neighbor of Albeau, Florent Renard (FRA-5, JP / NeilPryde). Also missing was Pieter Bijl (NED-0, Fanatic/ Neil Pryde) who went on to win the loser’s final.
Micah Buzianis, who’d barely managed to make the final, then went on to dominate with an impressive win, taking an all important step towards his pre-event target of a podium finish for the year. Albeau made few mistakes but managed to finish second ahead of the impressive Renard.
Who better than Buzianis then to describe his key win to keep the event lead? “I’d been starting high (Upwind) to middle of the line all day and hadn’t really made an impact, so this time I thought why not choose the pin end? I absolutely nailed the start – completely stealing it from Kevin who was looking good for crossing first. Once I was out in front it was a lot easier, despite Antoine really pushing behind me, as I think he has better board speed. I was better at the turns, and especially pulling away after the gybes. Overall I just held it together and gave it everything I had to claim the win!”
With winds still unsuitable for freestyle the race crew decided to end competition for the day and set a skippers’ meting for 08.00 for day 7, with a first possible start of 08.30
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