Slate claims pro division crown at Quiksilver Cup

Peter Slate blew away a strong field in winning the pro division at the Quiksilver Cup windsurfing slalom race Saturday at Kanaha Beach Park in Kahului.

Competitors sailed in consistent 15-20 knot winds at the fourth event of the 29th annual Maui Race Series.

Slate got the jump on the 14-man field in the first pro division race, hitting the start perfectly and holding off two Professional Windsurfing Association touring members, Gunnar Asmussen of Germany and Micah Buzianis of Paia.

“I was set up by lady luck,” Slate said. “The starting line can be very small with 14 guys. I saw the boat was favored, the other guys were starting by the pin side.

“I was like a secret agent James Bond hiding out of everybody’s vision. They were thinking, ‘Where did he come from?’ When I hit the line it was like hitting that perfect 3-point shot.”

In the second race, Slate got a good start, but Asmussen and Marco Lang, an Austrian PWA pro, had better ones. Lang tried to make a buoy-hugging turn at the first mark and got launched headfirst into the water. Slate and Buzianis were able to avoid Lang.

Asmussen continued to lead throughout the course and won the second heat ahead of Slate and Buzianis. Lang sailed off the course and limped to the beach with a baseball-sized lump on the top of his foot.

“I tried to go inside of Gunnar,” Lang said. “I got pulled over full power.”

In the third heat, Buzianis finally nailed a start and had a big lead rounding the second inside mark, but then took an uncharacteristic fall. Slate went on to win the heat, which clinched the title.

In the fourth heat, 12 sailors were disqualified for false starts including Slate, Buzianis, Asmussen and McGain, who finished second overall.

“He (Slate) sailed so good,” Buzianis said. “He’s a tough competitor to race against. He definitely pushes you.”

Slate, who also helps develop and test windsurfing products for North Sails, was using a protype 7.0-meter sail.

“It was absolutely fantastic,” he said. “It’s the first of our changes to our new sails, it’s the basis for 2014.”

Jack Holliday, a 20-year-old college student from New Zealand who had never sailed on Maui until last week, won the 10-person expert division with borrowed equipment.

“It was awesome,” said Holliday, whose brother Luke won the junior title. “Racing here is so much fun. Our whole trip has been amazing.”

Asmussen was the 19-39 champion while Buzianis claimed the 40-49 crown.

Mike Yasak topped a competitive 50-59 division in which four different sailors won heats. Yasak had missed the previous two events because of injury.

The other winners were Greg Thomas (60 and over), Tamara Bockius (women) and Chris Freeman (semipro).

The final event of the MRS season is the Neil Pryde Hawaii State Championship, scheduled for July 27 at Kanaha.