Sean O’Brien reports from another interesting day in Costa Brava, a long day of racing, some big crashes and an angry frenchman all feature…
Day 3 of the Costa Brava PWA World Cup turned out to be longer than any of us expected! The forecast was promising and with no clouds in the sky in the early morning and the temperatures rising we assumed to be out on the water by lunchtime, but it wasn’t to be.
The wind teetered around 4-9 knots for most of the morning then afternoon, before 2pm rolled around and we started to get some more gusts over 16 knots. The PWA crew are quick to take advantage of any wind changes and Heat 1 of Round 3 were out on the water with the red flag up in no time, with most of us on 8.6/7.8 and large boards as there were still plenty of holes in the wind here and there.
Heat 1 got on the way with Julien Quentel and Bora Kozanoglu taking the first 2 qualifications spots but then the controversy started with Heat 2 and we were to witness one of the largest yelling matches on the beach I’d seen since 2008 when Robby Swift cut Bjorn off at a gybe mark in his first PWA slalom event!
Heat 2 started with very gusty conditions and Peter Bijl pushing the line and given over-early. After the heat was restarted it was Englishman James Dinsmore’s time to go early and the heat was restarted for a third time with only 6 sailors left. During the next minutes in to the 3 rd restart the wind began to shift and race director Juan abandoned the heat (note that both disqualified sailors
had seen their names on the whiteboard and sailed back to the beach), giving the order soon after that all disqualified sailors would be allowed to restart the heat because it was abandoned!
Well, that seemed fair at the time, but just ask Cyril Moussilmani what he thought of letting them back in! I had been out testing a fin but arrived back on the beach to see 15 sailors at the media tower all yelling at each other with Juan locked in a fierce battle with Cyril about the details of the decision. Just as I was putting my sail down I heard the big frenchman’s accent yell “IF THOSE GUYS ARE ALLOWED BACK IN THEN I QUIT WINDSURFING FOREVER!!!”……….
Right after this, racing was put on hold for the afternoon as the wind continued to shift and became very gusty with 5 knot holes inside the 20 knot gusts; we were kept on standby for 3 more hours with only 1 heat completed of this round. Just as we thought it was all over and sailors began to shift sails from the beach back to the carpark the temperature suddenly dropped and a stonking 20-25 knot cross-shore wind hit the course, lighting up the ocean with white caps and pelting sand down the beach! IT WAS BACK ON.
Most of us were caught out on big gear as we were given only 8 minutes before the resail of Heat 2 began. Luckily for me I was in Heat 8 and had time to get down to my 7.8m but even though proved too windy in the gusts and despite having a killer pin-end start blitzing Dunkerbeck and the rest of the fleet the wind was still shifting slightly and coming in to the first mark it pulled right, making it ultra tight in the last 100m and I had to dump all my speed and head-up just to make the mark (as did others) and as a result, 6 of us hit the gybe at once with Kurosh Kiani and Marco Lang crashing full speed in to each other with me grinding my sail over theirs as I tried to gybe! I didn’t come off, but I had to make such a slow gybe to avoid their crash and let 4 sailors blitz off in to the distance
and was unable to catch up – damn!
There were more upsets to come with the quarter finals with Micah Buzianis crashing out after a big crash with Cedric Bordes (Cedric still ended up qualifying for the final though). Ben Van Der Steen and Arnon Dagan chose wrong sail sizes and got knocked out of their very difficult quarter final before Finian Maynard, who’d injured his leg earlier in the week got pipped on the line by Jimmy Diaz and also failed to qualify. Bambi (Alberto Menegatti) was the next to go after a shocking start in his quarter final left him barely able to get back to 6th!
The semi’s were a little more consistent and the regular big names were through to the winner’s final. The wind had become more consistent by the final and the stand-out one to watch was always going to be Taty Frans, who was on a 6.6m whilst others were on 7.8/8.6m and spent the time between races hammering duck-gybes and forwards in front of the spectators (not really, just
sailors) on the beach.
In the final it was the Severne show on the first leg with Steve Allen making the best start and leading Dunkerbeck in to the first mark by a decent margin with Antoine hot on their heels. Taty had a horrific start and was deep in the pack with Patrik Diethelm, Julien Quentel and Cyril Moussilmani hitting the first gybe at once.
Antoine managed to pass Bjorn out of the first gybe but Steve was flying at the front before making too safe a gybe at turn 3 and allowing Antoine to sneak inside him and put the hammer down. The ever consistent Bjorn just hung on Steve’s heals for the next run coming in to the final gybe before making one of the best gybes under pressure at the final mark to cut right inside Steve and take the 2nd place to the finish behind Antoine, leaving Steve to hang on to 3rd and Quentel somehow clawing back to 4th. Gonzalo, who I hadn’t even seen in the race had apparently crashed and finished 8 th with Taty not that much further in front of him in 7th.
PWA TV coverage from the action…
With Bjorn taking a 2nd it puts him in front of the event, 2 points clear of Antoine with Steve in 3 rd. I bet Steve went to bed thinking about those last 2 gybes as if he’d been more aggressive and held on, he’d be leading the event. But sometimes, at this level, it’s better to be consistent as the prize money for 3rd overall is a lot nicer than crashing a gybe, taking LAST in the final and finishing 10 th overall!
Another good forecast for tomorrow, let’s see what happens and we can all sleep better knowing that Cyril ISN’T GOING TO QUIT WINDSURFING despite the ridiculous decision of the PWA crew to let those sailors back in to Heat 2.
Sean’s previous report is on the next page…and come back tomorrow for the next update!