The PWA Lanzarote Freestyle and Super X Grand Slam Day 8
Matt Pritchard sneaks past Swift to claim victory in Lanzarote
Consistent winds were fully established across the bay of Las Cucharas as the finalists from Race 5 arrived ready to complete the unfinished finals from yesterday.
Nik Baker (Mistral, North) was fired up and ready to make up for his over early yesterday, leading the losers final all the way from start to finish and winning by a clear margin. In the winners final, there was more at stake. With Robby Swift (JP, Neil Pryde) leading the event, ahead of Matt Pritchard (Gaastra), by only a tie break, the pressure was on to maintain the pace. As ever Matt and Antoine Albeau (AHD, Neil Pryde) blasted off the line and made it to jump 1 first. Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra) went down hard on the jump and slipped from grace. The Albeau / Pritchard battle continued round the course, with a desperate Swift trying in vain to pass Cyril Moussilmani (Fanatic) in order to have a shot at Pritchard and maintain his lead, but it was not to be. The big Frenchman (Albeau) held his course well notched up his only first place of the contest.
Round 6 was underway within 20 minutes and after the opening 4 heats all the usual suspects were present in the semi finals. Having finished ahead of Swift in the mornings final, Pritchard had now edged ahead of England’s finest and was looking to stay there. The final once again saw the now familiar names of Nik Baker (Mistral, North) Pritchard, Pritchard, Swift and Moussilmani. Albeau was there too but took his turn on the premature bench alongside Remko De Weerd (Fanatic, Gaastra) who also went over early on the start of the final.
Swift put every ounce of will and effort into every maneuver, completing all of them intact, but the sheer speed of the Pritchard’s and Baker left him in an insufficient fourth just ahead of Moussilmani with Baker this time chalking up what would be his only race win of the event.
After a brief respite of light winds, a much more solid breeze began to whistle through the course area and it was time to tango once more. Race seven would be the final race of the contest, but it was not all sewn up yet. Swift was still in with a chance to beat Pritchard and reclaim the event win, but only if he won the race outright
Pritchard dominated his first round heat, winning by the greatest of margins as did Albeau, but things were not running smoothly for Swift. He clipped the first jump with his fin crashing down hard and looked as though he would not even reach the semi finals. Once again though, Swift’s incredible control and freestyle skill bailed him out of trouble as he sailed faultlessly for the remainder of the heat to qualify in third.
The final of the seventh race was probably the closest fought of the entire event. Volwater screamed down the first reach just ahead of the pursuing pack which included both Swift and Pritchard who were jostling aggressively with Albeau and Baker for room to maneuver. Regardless of Pritchard, Swift would need to get a clean shot at Volwater if he was to have any chance of stealing victory from the American. But it was not to be. Volwater sailed seamlessly through the heat combining great speed with fluid board handling to finish first ahead of Albeau and Baker with Swift dejected in fourth.
With the third Super X event of 2004 now completed, Albeau still dominates the overall rankings, but with only 300 points between the top 5 sailors anything is possible. The PWA circus now moves on to nearby Fuerteventura, where the Super X tour will culminate in a final event guaranteed to be rammed with action.
This first Lanzarote event has been an outstanding success and has proved Costa Teguise to be an exceptional windsurfing venue, with everything from mast high waves to relaxed freestyle conditions. All the PWA riders will be looking forward to coming back here for years to come.