Playa Inglesis: package holiday land.
And they're off!
Antoine Albeau wipes the floor in Race 1.
Micah Buzianis wins by over a minute in Race 2.
Kevin gets revenge and wins Races 3 & 4
But the overall winner is Mr. Consistent, Steve Allen
Interview with the Event winner, Steve Allen
So, why did you win?
Steve: I was having really good starts especially on the general recalls. All the guys around me were over the line so I held back a little but still got good starts. In the first race though I hit a plastic bag just after the start and had to jump off and could only round the first mark in 10th. But I caught up loads down wind, gybing early and having really good speed.
Was it a shock to arrive at the beach and find 25 knots or were you prepared for all conditions?
Steve: I was actually more prepared for these conditions than for light winds. I had done lots of training in high winds including the day before the contest where we sailed near Pozo and it all felt good.
Lets talk about the other sailors
Steve: Micah and Kevin have lifted their speed a lot since the beginning of the year working on their prototype sails while the rest of us are on production.
Steve: Maybe he has a mental block he has to overcome to win. Also when the wind dropped a little (less than 15knots) he struggled on his 2 year old board which looks a bit sticky when it is light.
Steve: On the first race he took an 11.5m sail and was a bit over powered. Then in the second race he took a 9.8m sail and he was underpowered. He also started really badly in the first two races. Then Phil McGain, his Team mate, came and helped him in the last two by blocking him and making sure he got away. This is some thing you always see them doing working together for the overall win. But it’s been escaping them lately since Kevin Pritchard’s last win over two years ago.
How will you go on from this and prepare for round 2 in Hungary.
Steve: I’ll go to Hungary early and test for the conditions so I’m as prepared as possible and sail the best I can. The other guy’s will be more nervous as its light conditions where I’ve been good in the past and but everybody will be going fast there. It’s always tough”
Starboard only took 3 out of the top 10 places for the first time in a number of years. Is Starboards traditional dominance at race events over?
Steve: It has been over for a long time. They haven’t had a World Champion since Wojtek won in 2000. With Lucy winning the windy race and me winning here the Fanatic is breaking its reputation as just a light wind board.
Finally, has this event worked?
Steve: As long as we have good racing, within our guide lines, then I don’t care where it is. I’m happy racing for 50,000 euros and would definitely come back next year to the same place.
The UK's Dan Ellis is sponsored by North, Fanatic, Sola Wetsuits and Boardseeker.com
41 men and 8 Women took the trip to GC, expecting light winds and technical conditions. Playa Inglesis (beach of the English!) is about 15km from Pozo but could hardly be more different. Pozo could be described as one of the most inhabitable places on earth in contrast to Playa Inglesis which has a vibrant promenade packed with shops and restaurants which are “enjoyed” by the 10,000 plus people on the beach. The main difference however is the wind: at the race site the prevailing wind is constantly fighting a loosing battle with its much more powerful Pozo counterpart which blows in the other direction leaving an area of constantly changing conditions normally less than the 7 knots needed for competition.
But as Day 1 dawned the prevailing wind gave up its fight altogether against the Pozo beast. For the first time in recorded history and to the total shock of the local organisers, Playa Inglesis became a world-class windsurfing beach. This was our only chance and everybody new it. That afternoon we banged out 4 races in some of the most testing conditions possible. The wind was reported to be between 18-25knots but by general consensus you could add another 5 knots to that.
Race 1: Antoine Albeau makes it look easy.
In these 4 races we had 3 different sailors taking wins. The first race was by far the most challenging with the wind pushing 30knots. The wind had been pretty steady all morning (around 18 to 20knots) and we had all rigged our 11.0m sails. Big mistake! As the first race progressed it was no surprise to see Antoine Albeau take a huge lead and win the race as he revelled in the over powered conditions. The big surprise was how Steve Allen closed him down on the last lap to finish just behind in second eliminating the normal high wind powerhouses Micah Buzianis and Kevin Pritchard. Kevin had struggled with his 11.5m and didn’t finish the race, along with myself.
Race 2: Micah Buzianis shows who is boss
Next race and it was Micah Buzianis who had the biggest lead of the day, winning by over a minute. Kevin Pritchard again blundered as he set up his Gaastra 9.8m sail just as the wind began to ease.
Race 3 & 4: revenge for Kevin
In Race 3, Kevin began his assault. He had put his mistakes behind him and won Races 3 and 4 comfortably. But his onslaught was just too late. It was mid afternoon and the prevailing wind got back to its un-winnable war against the beast of Pozo and Playa Inglesis became a sun lounger’s paradise once again.
But the winner…
None of the race winners were to take the overall crown. It was Mr Consistent, Steve Allen, with three 2nds and a discard who took the event win, followed by Micah Buzianis and Antoine Albeau. Kevin Pritchard, although winning two out of the four races could only manage a fourth.
Once again the Old Guard had given the young guns a lesson.
Race Analysis with Pieter Bijl
I decided to sit down with fellow Fanatic team mate Pieter Bijl who is also the main Neil Pryde tester, and thrash out what went on, who did what and why the old-timers are so hard to beat.
Steve Allen: Not usually the strongest in these conditions with Antoine, Micah and Kevin usually showing a little edge. We put it down to good preparation, being tactically solid, mentally strong and playing safe.
Micah Buzianis: He was second here after recently winning the Worlds in Poland. He has lots of experience in strong winds has put in a lot of work on his sails to make sure he has speed.
Antoine Albeau: He really showed his overall windsurfing ability with a convincing win in the totally overpowered conditions of the first race. However he looked disappointed with third in what he would call, “his wind”. Maybe his hungry, aggressive style means he’s fighting too hard which leaves him vulnerable in some races.
Kevin Pritchard: The guy gets two firsts but can only manage fourth overall. In the strong wind his speed was not as good as the top three meaning he had to take chances. In the last two races the wind dropped a little and his speed increased hence the results. He also pulled out another new sail which has an extra ninth batten but still with a skinny luff.
Finian Maynard: With the fastest windsurfer in the world on his name tag you would always expect he could produce good results in racing but he has always struggled to get into the top 10. Just two weeks ago he was out of the top 20 at the Worlds. Whilst we were down at Lake Garda before the event, it was clear he wanted better race results and was working hard with his new sails. We think that after a few years out of the game his self-belief will return after his recent success in Speed.
The ‘almost but not quite crew’. Pieter and I look at the best of the second generation of racers and ask why they didn’t quite hit the Jackpot at this event.
Arnon Dagon: He sliped from third at the Worlds but at the same time showed he is maturing as an all-round racer. His good result in Poland has boosted his confidence which helped him get a top 10 result in these hard conditions.
Gonzo Costa Hoevel: This guy didn’t show any weakness with a 5th in the 25knot plus first race and then with a sixth in the last. But two over earlies in Races 2 and 3 cost him dearly and put him out of the running.
Jesper Vesterstrom: Jesper has been working really hard with his training partner, Arnon Dagon, all year and its paying off. A little unlucky here with an over early which meant he had to count a 20 but other wise he would have been looking good for a top 10 results.
The top four girls at this event were current World Champion Dorota Staszewska, Allison Shreeve, the new girl from Australia, Karen Jaggi and the UK's Lucy Horwood
. Each of them won a race in the only day of racing with Lucy loving the stronger winds and raising her game after her disappointing 5th at the Worlds in Poland.
Karen won Race 2, Allison won Race 3 and Dorota the final race but it was Allison that had the consistency to come out on top with one first, two seconds and a fourth.
New girl on the block and Ladies winner: F2's Allison Shreeve