The calm before the storm. Forty-seven of the world’s best slalom competitors have registered for the ultimate show down here at Sotavento Beach. The scene was familiar: white sands, azure waters and a constant cross-offshore wind.
The feelings in the camp were lively, and there was a sense of electricity that pulsed between the competitors. It is clear that many of the sailors will relish the opportunity to improve their standings in the World Rankings after a very tight contest in Pozo.
As it stands, Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde) is the man to beat. His consistency and experience give him such an advantage in slalom. The intense contest in Gran Canaria last week has thrown the overall word rankings into disarray. The title chase has never been closer. Leading the chase is Britain’s Ross Williams (Tabou/Gaastra), whilst Micah Buzianis (JP/NeilPryde), Finian Maynard (RRD/NeilPryde) and Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard/Severne) are all on equal points. The brilliant Kevin Pritchard (Starboard/Gaastra/Dakine) is poised in sixth place, and he will be charging after an amazing performance in Gran Canaria.
There is also a big push by the new blood in the sport: Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard/North Sails), Benoit Moussilmani (Starboard/Simmer Style) and Sylvain Moussilmani (Starboard/Simmer Style) have been pushing hard for their position in the leading ranks. Along side them Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Exocet/MauiSails) Robby Swift (JP/NeilPryde) and Matt Pearch (Fanatic/North Sails) have shown great speed and strength this year.
In a quick five-minute blast between his tuning program, we took the chance to have a quick fire chat with World Number two, Ross Williams.
Q: If you were a betting man, who would you put your money on for the top 5 at this event?
RW: “Antoine is the favorite for sure, but everyone is going to fight for it. I think Me, Micah, Finian, and KP will be in there. There have been a lot of guys getting better in every race, but it’s the consistency that’s important here”
Q: What about Dunkerbeck?
RW: “Oh yeah (smiling). I forgot him! He is always amazingly quick. And Cyril too. It’s going to be tight.”
Q: Does your performance depend on the conditions, and do you think they will affect the other competitors?
RW: “I just hope it is at least this windy – this stuff is perfect (looking at his 7.0 Gaastra and his smallest Starboard). The forecast looks good, and I know I’m at my best when it’s like Pozo. When it’s kind of’ light like this, Micah and Kev get a lot more competitive, but when it’s windy Antoine, Finian and Bjorn just love it. I love it too, and for the kit that I have registered here I need it to be really windy!”
Williams may well get his wish. Tomorrow the conditions look like they are picking up for an incredible week of action. There will also be some swell arriving for the men’s and women’s freestyle, so make sure you tune in and don’t miss a thing.
The slalom event will kick off tomorrow, with a skippers meeting at 1000, and a first possible start at 1030. All the action will be covered live, exclusively from the PWA Tour. Check out the action videos, great pictures, and live results on www.pwaworldtour.com