The 2004 Fuerteventura PWA Freestyle and Super X Grand Slam Day 7
After yesterday evening's opening round, everyone was fired up and ready for race 2 of Super X at this years PWA Fuerteventura Freestyle and Super X Grand Slam. Matt Pritchard (Tabou, Gaastra) was standing proud at the top of the event ranking having won the first race but with a good forecast and 2 days of competition remaining, Pritchard's lead was a fragile one. All the main players in the overall title race were still in the top eight of the contest so it was very much all to play for.
Matt's brother Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra) got off to a bad start shooting off prematurely in heat 1 and yet again, Ricardo Campello (JP, Neil Pryde) was lucky to pass the preliminary heats after a shocking start, only making it through by sheer skill through the compulsory maneuvers. All the front runners survived through to the semis with Matt Pritchard, Cyril Moussilmani (Fanatic), Kauli Seadi (AHD, Naish) and Antoine Albeau (AHD, Neil Pryde) all winning their heats.
The first semi final was a clear win for Campello ahead of Remko De Weerd (Fanatic, Gaastra) who was blasting hard. John Skye (F2, Arrows) was unlucky to qualify for the final after a near photo finish for fourth with Victor Fernandez (Fanatic).
Seadi had the second semi all sewn up, looking exceptionally quick in the strong conditions, only to be disqualified after failing to jump the second obstacle. That left Peter Volwater (Arrows) and Matt Pritchard safely out in front with Diony Guadagnino (Neil Pryde) and Robby Swift (JP, Neil Pryde) lucky to make it after Seadi's disqualification.
The final was a heat that will go down in history as one of the most bizarre in PWA history. As the green flag went up there ere no fewer than 3 sailors over early - Swift, Campello and Volwater, all premature. On the restart, De Weerd, Guadagnino and Albeau all went to soon and were also disqualified, leaving just a man on man duel between Matt Pritchard and Fernandez.
Pritchard's speed looked enough to carry him cleanly through, but Fernandez made a fight of it, basting through his spocks with incredible speed. In the end though it was US-10 who once again took the checkered flag, winning his second race of the event.
After a short break, it was straight into round 3. The shock knockout on the road to the final of race 3 was Matt Pritchard who failed to get past his first heat after ploughing into French youngster Nicolas Mereud (JP, Neil Pryde) at obstacle 1.
Fernandez narrowly failed to make the top eight, having scored a second in the days first race and Cyril Moussilmani again missed out on a chance for glory being forced to settle for the losers final instead. Nik Baker (Mistral, North) fumbled the ball on the five yard line allowing Benoit Moussilmani (Gaastra) past and into the final.
The final of Race 3 had a diverse mix of talent, from big air specialists like Vidar Jensen (North) to Freestyle protégé's such as Campello and veteran racers in the form of Kevin Pritchard. Albeau as one of the best all-rounders could not be discounted and with Matt Pritchard already out of his way would have less to worry about. Campello had other ideas though.
Demonstrating incredible speed, the Venezuelan trickster screamed round the course landing the most amazing planning forwards. By the time he crossed the finish line, he was so far ahead that he had time to sail over the line switch stance and back to sail! Albeau's superior Freestyle ability kept Kevin Pritchard at bay finishing second and third respectively.
Race 4 began in much stronger winds. There were no serious upsets in the preliminary heats although Matt Pritchard only just scraped through his. Kevin Pritchard won by such a great margin in his opener that the commentators on the beach did not realize he was even in the heat.
De Weerd had a premature moment on the start of his semi final putting him straight into the losers and Albeau sailed brilliantly after taking a nose dive over the first jump, to win his semi.
The final line up would be Albeau, Douglas "Cheo" Diaz (Fanatic, North), Skye, Nicholas Akgazciyan (AHD, Neil Pryde), Matt Pritchard, Campello, Guadagnino and Volwater. Pritchard was out of the blocks like a shot but there was no breathing space as the eight sailors jockeyed for position going over the jumps. Campello fell at the gybe taking several other sailors with him. Skye took several sailors at the second gybe and was up with the leaders again. Pritchard looked safe in front with just one spock left for him to complete, but hit the water hard opening the door to Albeau. All the big Frenchman had to do to step through it was hold his spock which he did with style to beat Pritchard an claim a valuable race win.
For the final race of the day, it was decided to use the new 1.2 meter super jump in anger for the first time. However, after the new obstacle was set in place it suffered major puncture damage meaning that I had to be immediately extracted for repairs. Race 5 would run on the same course as previously.
Matt Pritchard was lucky to find himself in the final line up for the last race after a major crash with Fernandez at the second jump, but he kept his cool as those around him lost theirs and clawed his way back to a qualifying position. Albeau on the other hand, was not so lucky. After a disastrous start in which he got caught in everyone else's dirty wind, he then catapulted big time over jump one and flew straight over the handlebars on duck gybe 2. As a true testament to his incredible ability he still managed to finish fifth, but was outside of a qualifying slot and out of the race.
Matt Pritchard repeated his second jump boo-boo almost exactly in the final, taking him pretty much out of the running. The star of today's last race was john Skye. After a fantastic inside overtaking maneuver on the second duck gybe, "Skye boy" then led for the majority of the rest of the race, completing a very respectable near planing forward and holding off Volwater and Swift. On the last reach he exploded in his spock and was left dazed in the water as a very determined Julien Taboulet (JP, Neil Pryde), who has so far not managed to build on his early Super X results, rocketed past Skye and stole victory right out of his hands. Swift could not quite follow Taboulet's example, and came in third just ahead of Volwater in fourth.
After a day of what can only be described as high octane action, Matt Pritchard has managed to strengthen his lead slightly but has not done enough yet to oust Albeau from World Championship contention.
Stay tuned for the crucial final days competition tomorrow to see if Pritchard can take the spoils and do not forget to check out all the highlights and live action on www.high.tv