The 2004 Leucate - Mondial du Vent PWA Super X World Cup Day 1

Saturday April 10, 2004

Wisps of fine white sand streaked across the beach in Leucate this morning

as the flags strained in the strong, early morning winds. Despite a cold

start it was a clear sign of the excellent conditions and the drama of the

opening rounds of the 2004 PWA Super X World Tour, that were to follow.

The side offshore winds provided a perfect opportunity for beach starts

and Race Director Klaus Michel set a start time for 11.00. As a gift from

above, the sun burnt through the early morning clouds just in time for the

first heats and the scene was set for great day. The first round was

underway at 11.15 with winds by then gusting over 50 knots. Heat 1 saw Nik

Baker (Mistral, North) streak into the lead closely followed by Nicholas

Akgazciyan (AHD, Neil Pryde). Akgazciyan slipped into the lead after Baker

fell on the first spock and held on to first until the finish line.

In general, it was the usual suspects who dominated the early heats.

Julien Taboulet (JP, Neil Pryde) pushed through in first place of heat 2

shortly followed by Remko De Weerd (Fanatic, Gaastra) and Matt Pritchard

(Gaastra). Heat 3 was conquered by Robby Swift (JP, Neil Pryde) and Peter

Volwater (Arrows) and it was Antoine Albeau (AHD, Neil Pryde), the number

1 seed following Fuerteventura 2003, who showed clearly why he is favorite

at the event, to win heat 4.

It was the big guns who continued to hold form in the semis with

Pritchard, Baker, Volwater, Albeau and Swift all advancing to the final

along with Taboulet, Akgazciyan and Pieter Bijl (Fanatic, Neil Pryde).

The losers final was very much a haven for the young pretenders and it was

Benoit Moussilmani (Gaastra) who kept his head to finish first. Douglas

CheoDiaz (Fanatic, North) managed an amazing comeback after a disastrous,

start which left him last at the first mark, to take second, closely

followed by Benoits older brother Cyril Moussilmani (Fanatic) in third.

The winnersfinal was for most sailors simply a battle for third, as

Pritchard and Albeau moved clearly into the lead and into their own

private war. Pritchard came close time and time again, only to see the big

Frenchman move ahead once more with powerful maneuvers and blistering speed.

After a short break for lunch, round 2 began and once again it was

familiar faces that graced the winning slots. Baker, Pritchard, Taboulet

and Akgazciyan all demonstrated a superb command of the language of

windsurfing to move up into the semis. With the course now altered to have

the sailors performing their forward loops on the way in it was a common

sight to see 3 or 4 sailors looping in perfect synchronicity definitely a

hit with the crowds.

After a brief spell of shifting, gusty winds, which caused a few heats to

be abandoned, the course was adjusted and second round finals could be

run. Having narrowly missed out on a slot in the final, Taboulet was

determined to re-establish his reputation in front of his home crowd. With

great speed and superb spocks, he cleared the rest of the pack to finish

clear ahead of fellow Frenchman Mathieu Bonno (JP, Neil Pryde) and

Akgazciyan with Xavier Huart (Mistral, North) finishing the French quartet

in 4th.

On to the winnersside and it was all action in the slightly lighter

conditions, as seasoned veterans fought hard with the Super X virgins.

Baker led to the first mark with the entire pack chomping at his heels.

Positions were traded back and forth as sailors either fell or completed

their moves but the race was between Baker and Albeau for first place.

Eventually Baker held his final spock well enough to stay ahead of Albeau

and win the second round. Diaz, who has already established himself well

at this event, took third with Cyril Moussilmani in a very respectable

fourth. Pritchard and Swift failed to consolidate on their earlier

performances and finished in fifth and sixth respectively.

The dynamic action of Super X has proved a huge hit with the crowds here

in Leucate, who have flocked to the beach in their thousands to see the

whos who of windsurfing strut their stuff.

With similar conditions forecast for tomorrow, it promises to be a

superb event.