Dunkerbeck takes the title, with young gun Julien Quentel a very close second ahead of his RRD team mate Antoine Albeau. Sean O'Brian has a final report for us from Costa Brava.
With only one heat sailed yesterday of Round 6 and Bjorn still in a clear lead of the event over the RRD team of Julien Quentel and Antoine Albeau, it was going to be a long day at the beach as the PWA race crew were very keen to get this round completed.
Against the forecast, the wind actually picked up enough to start some racing and by 2pm we were out on the water for a very fickle onshore day of racing! You can always tell the conditions are tricky by how many over-earlies there are in the racing. No less than 15 over-early general recalls took place today with on average 2-3 sailors getting bumped per heat! The race was all down to the start as in 10-12 knots there is not as big a speed difference between a lot of us sailors and with the flatter water it was unlikely that anyone of us would fall off a gybe! I spoke a bit too soon and in my Heat (which happened to be the French National Championships with Albeau, Montefon, Le Guen, Questel and De Souza all in my Heat!) I managed to hit the first mark with everyone at once and promptly spat my gybe and took waaaaay too long to get the sail back up and finished LAST. Not my finest moment but in a way I was glad to not have to sail so late in to the afternoon!
Somehow we managed to sneak in enough heats to sail the winner’s final but not the loser’s final, with Micah Buzianis dominating this final race taking the winner’s final ahead of Bjorn Dunkerbeck, Ross Williams and Steve Allen. This 2nd for Bjorn was easily enough for him to win the event and just sneak ahead of Antoine Albeau in the 2012 PWA Rankings for Slalom with Antoine finishing 3rd at this event and Julien Quentel 2nd overall.
It was an extremely difficult week of racing here with winds very up and down each day of the event making sail-size critical and the starts even more so which can be seen by the amount of different final winner’s and BIG names well down the results list like Maynard (32nd), Questel (29th), Volwater (28th) and Gonzalo in 25th overall.
At least the temperatures were nice and we were blessed to be able to sail in boardshorts all week after a horrifically cold event in South Korea last month. We now have a full month’s break before the first of the Canary Island events kick off with Pozo (waves) and Fuerteventura (slalom) being the highlights. I’ll be on my way back to Lake Garda with the Italian team for a month of relaxing, training and work before we tune up the 5.5m’s and small boards for the typical 50 knots we usually race in on the Spanish islands.
A big congrats to Bjorn for winning another event and to Quentel who really dominated yesterday to finish 2nd overall. It’s still early days in the season with 3 more slalom events to go so we’ll see whether Bjorn can take the title again this year or Albeau will be back and hungry as he’s typically the fastest guy in nuking conditions and won the Fuerteventura World Cup last year by a streak!
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Sean O’Brien reports from day five in Costa Brava…
Day five of the Costa Brava World Cup was the slowest start on record with perfect weather for tanning on the beach: brutal sun and zero wind! The major change to the event was the start of the weekend and an extra few thousand Spaniards hitting the beach for the sun and our campsite hitting capacity – a few hundred people scrounging chairs all around our sails rigged up on the grass! I don’t think any of us even LOOKED at the beach till the first breath of wind started to hit around 3pm and racing was set for a 3.30pm start!
Light, crossshore winds made the starts super difficult and I got bumped in my quarter final with Benoit Moussilmani in a RIDICULOUS decision, where the wind dropped to almost nothing with 10 seconds to go and I drifted over the line not even in the straps or harness – the race should have been abandoned! Argghhh. The re-run of my quarter final (with only six men left) ended up being abandoned two more times before the wind finally settled and the rest of the heats were able to be run.
Julien Quentel decided to shine today and blitzed every heat he was in and then stormed to victory in the winner’s final even passing the event leader Bjorn Dunkerbeck on the second run and even the classy winner’s final fleet could not reign back his lead – a well deserved victory and bringing Quentel up to 2nd overall on the scoresheet.
Round 6 was started a few minutes after this winner’s final but as quickly as the wind came late this afternoon it disappeared again and only one heat was sailed before everyone in Heat two had to drift back to the beach and racing was cancelled for the day. The forecast for tomorrow looks grim so most of us were keen to hit the bar tonight to drown our sorrows and the boys in the Jersey-Shore hut of mine got the party arrangements going early, hosting a little soiree for half the fleet with Kiani and myself playing DJ on the laptops and blasting some SKRILLEX throughout the campsite, much to the distaste of the Spanish campers around us!
Only one final day of racing tomorrow and with the lame forecast it’s doubtful we might even finish this final Round to cap off the event! Stay tuned tomorrow to find out!
Check the previous reports by clicking the numbers below....
Sean O’Brien reports from day four in Costa Brava...
Day four started firing early here in Costa Brava. Normally we’d have to wait agonisingly until late afternoon for any wind but today we were out racing by 11am, with light sideshore 8-13 knots and blistering sun. We managed to finish 2.5 full eliminations in what turned out to be one of the most difficult days of racing I have done in a long time (now I remember why I always used to skip this event! Haha).
The thing about Costa Brava is, you NEVER KNOW what the wind is going to do. It could be 8 knots all morning and you take your biggest kit, then in the 45 seconds it takes to sail out to the course it picks up to 20 knots and you can barely sail it home in one piece to change down! Today was one of those days.
I had a nasty first heat with these exact conditions and watching the wind increase over the course of the morning I decided to jump down on to my 7.8m as the wind was teetering around 18 knots and looked like it could go NUCLEAR at any second; apparently not. Half way through the race the wind dropped to 6 knots and my heat was abandoned with us left drifting at the 2nd mark. I tried as best I could to make it back to the beach to grab the big gear but the wind remained light and I couldn’t actually get back upwind to the startline! Taking a DNF for my first heat today; FML.
The rest of the fleet had similar issues with names like Finian Maynard, Jimmy Diaz, Ben Van Der Steen and Antoine Questel getting knocked out in their quarter finals choosing the wrong kit! The wind decided to come back for the winner’s final however which saw the two boys on Gaastra, Arnon Dagan and Alberto Menegatti make one of the funniest mistakes I’ve seen in a long time in racing!
Both boys had seen the advantage starting at the pin, and despite being teammates, went head-to-head battling to keep the lowest sailor off the line and protect the pin start. The damage started with 2 minutes to go as the sailors ran back through the startline to get a run-up to the start. Alberto and Arnon kept downwind of the fleet and battled each other for the lowest spot, neither one willing to relinquish the pin-end position. Down and down and down they kept sailing, eyes on each other trying to psych each other out and get this low position. With 1 minute to go they gybed, then looked at the startline – they had sailed 250m downwind of it! NO CHANCE TO EVEN MAKE THE LINE!
Antoine had already made an over-early before this happened so when it came to the green flag, all we saw from the beach was five guys starting at the boat in clean air, and two Gaastra sailors well downwind of the startline making some tacks to try and make the line! They started a good 30 seconds behind the rest of the fleet – ROOKIE ERROR!
With Antoine out and Alberto probably being one of the fastest guys here on the big gear, Bjorn had an easy time winning this final and we were on for the next round quicker than you can say “the pin start was a mistake!".
Just like Costa Brava is famous for, sailing out to our heats on 8.6/7.8m sails the wind suddenly NUKED to 30 knots, with most of the sailors unable to get around the course without crashing at half the gybes. I was unlucky in my heat with a bunch of guys crashing at the first mark (me included) and had to sit another round out on the beach. Ross Williams, Antoine Questel, Finian Maynard and Peter Bijl also joined the ‘way too overpowered to stick a gybe’ club and were knocked out of their heats!
The winner’s final in Round 4 became the Bjorn show once again after Antoine Albeau uncharacteristically crashed his 2nd gybe sitting in deep in the pack. Ben Van Der Steen made the same error and was back to last in the fleet allowing Dunkerbeck to win 2 finals in a row and stamp a clear lead on this event.
Just as quickly as the wind came, it disappeared again, with the first 10 heats of Round 5 beginning with a lot of us starting our heats on 7.0m completely juiced only to get to the 2nd or 3rd gybe and have it abandoned when the wind dropped down to 10 knots! I had a decent heat and qualified for the quarter final and taking a 7.0m in the quarter I was thankfully gifted an abandonment flag as I could barely plane off the startline and was LAST by so far at the first mark! Grabbing my 8.6m and big board and heading straight back to the startline for the resail of my heat by the time I got to the line the water went glassy and we had to be towed back to the beach with the boats as we were drifting out to sea in the outgoing tide! Amazing to think about 6 minutes before I was stacked on a 7.0m and now I was unable to hold my 8.6m up out of the water in glassy conditions! Only in Costa Brava!
So I’m up first tomorrow with a pretty stacked quarter final. We watched England scrape in 3-2 against Sweden with free beer at another nicely hosted party here at the biggest camping grounds I’ve ever seen in my life. A similar forecast like today is planned for the weekend, so we’ll see what it brings!
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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...
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!
Sean O'Brien reports from the racing yesterday in Costa Brava, where even in the light but stormy weather a winner was crowned for the first round.
A very quiet start to Day 2 of the Costa Brava PWA World Cup. The forecast was grim and our only chance was for the land to heat up and get some thermic in the afternoon. This did eventually happen however it wasn’t until 2.30pm that any of us were even tempted to rig!
The wind was still dead onshore which always makes it look windier than it really is but when the first sailors hit the water it was clear that we were going to be on our BIG GEAR. 7 heats were able to be run as the wind teetered around 9-12 knots for the afternoon, but with even lighter patches making the starting very difficult as we later discovered with no less than 8 over-early sailors in the 7 heats that were run!
Bora Kozanoglu and Ross Williams were the first to get DSQ’d in heat 11 (the first to start today) followed by Ben Van Der Steen, Finian Maynard and myself in heat 12. In the semi finals it was Taty’s turn to go early, and backed it up again by going early in the loser’s final with Josh Angulo!
I think the problem (certainly for me) was coming to the line and having the wind go light and you would foot off to try and keep the speed and take the risk to hit the line so close, if you were to back off and time it better you could fall off the plane and be LAST. A risky business is racing in light winds!
The winner’s final was probably the lightest race of the day! Antoine had a great start with Bjorn but Dunkerbeck’s straight line speed got him easily in to the first gybe ahead and he never looked like he could be beaten the rest of the race. Alberto Menegatti, who is blisteringly fast on his 9.5m and 127L iSonic was 3rd to the first mark but made a horrible gybe and was completely SANDWICHED by Arnon Dagan and Sylvain Moussilmani and fell off the plane to finish LAST!
There were a lot of tussles at the marks in the very light air and by the end Steve Allen and Peter Bijl were able to pass Antoine to take 2nd and 3rd with Antoine in 4th and Sylvain in 5th. Almost as Alberto crossed the line to finish this final the wind began to drop but somehow we squeezed the loser’s final in with Benout Moussilmani claiming the victory ahead of Micah Buzianis and Ludovic Jossin. Once the finals were run the wind completely died and the racing was very promptly called off leaving us with only 1 Round finished after 2 days of racing here in Costa Brava.
In the evening we were bus’d to another campsite along the coast for an Event Party at the Marokkon Surf Bar (which also coincided with the NEDvGER football game and with quite a few Dutchies on the tour, it was always going to be a good game to watch!). Knowing the thermic won’t really take effect until the afternoon, most of us succumbed to the free beer and great Spanish food but it will be all action stations tomorrow morning as the forecast looks like we’ll get a decent blow tomorrow and hopefully knock a few rounds over.
Head to the next page for a run down of the first day...
Day one in Costa Brava was an up and down affair, with a couple of heats run Sean O’Brien sent us this report from yesterday’s action.
After some deliberation with the Italians on whether to fly or drive to Costa Brava (flying = 60 euros, driving = 200 euros each way) I was convinced by Alberto Menegatti – who wanted to bring eight booms, five boards, doubles of every sail and close to one million fins that it would be better to drive the 11 hours from Lake Garda down to Costa Brava, a decision I don’t actually regret. Never obeying speed limits we navigated the amazing seaside drive along the south coast of France and Spain arriving in under 10 hours making some pit stops in Monaco and Cannes. The weather was nice all through the drive and arriving Monday morning in Costa Brava we had the afternoon free to rig and sticker our sails and have a quick blast to tuneup in the onshore winds of southern Spain.
So far, the general consensus here is to FORGET THE FORECAST. 9-13 knots was predicted for the warmup day on Monday but most of us rigged 7.0 down to 6.3 for an afternoon of +25 knot bumpy conditions on the medium and small boards! Having never been to Costa Brava before I was impressed with the event layout; setting up our ‘jersey shore’ bungalow right next to the race site with Kurosh Kiani, Ross Williams and Gonzalo Costa-Hoevel complete with ADSL internet (nice one!) and a modern kitchen for when we finally get over eating at the restaurant next door.
After a late storm (with gusts up to 55 knots) on Monday evening everyone had stickered sails down to 5.5m and were set for an early night with racing kicking off this morning on a hot and sunny Tuesday. All the regular PWA guns are here, including a few new faces from Spain and the inclusion of some formula guns from Holland, Dennis Littel and Casper Bouman, making a classy fleet of 64 sailors for this 3rd World Cup contest of 2012.
With another forecast of 9-13 knots today all of us were thinking it could blow ‘anything’ however the wind stayed true to the forecast and by 2pm we were straight in to Heat 1 with most of us on the big rigs and me trying the new ‘rage’ on the tour (if you’re on Severne sails) which is to use the insanely wide formula boom from Severne as a slalom boom on the big sails, giving you a very different stance on the board and much more power.
Round 1 started with the usual suspects qualifying ,with Josh Angulo taking Heat 1, Dunkerbeck cruising through Heat 2 and Pierre Montefon easily taking Heat 3. The wind was DEAD ONSHORE making it very difficult to get upwind to the startline and also creating some tight lines through the marks where if you gybed wide, you might not even make it to the next mark unless you were running a Dunkerbeck 50cm fin! Gonzalo was the first major casualty from the jersey-shore hut, crashing hard with Peter Bijl at the first mark and missing out on the quarter finals. I soon learned Kurosh suffered the same fate in his Heat 1. Ross suffered another crash leading Heat 5 but somehow managed to recover in to fourth with some very smooth gybing and tactics.
My heat had a few over earlies before we settled in and I had a cracking start leading to the first mark before Antoine Albeau pipped me inside to gybe first. I was later run over by Arnon Dagan but easily hung on to my 3rd place to qualify for the next round ahead of Patrik Diethelm.
With the water fairly cold but the sun on the beach blazing super hot, most of us sailed in boardshorts, however shortly in to the start of the quarter finals, after Dunkerbeck had easily slaughtered the field in Heat 9, the wind shifted and shifted and shifted till it was almost side-shore and then dropped, leaving most of us out on the water barely a puff to make it back to the beach and the temperatures dropping down to long-leg wetsuit weather! As always in PWA event style, we were kept on stand-by TO THE DEATH (2 hours later) despite the wind never rising above 5 knots for the remainder of the afternoon. So, as it stands after Day 1, we have only one quarter final run and will kick start tomorrow at 9.30am for Heat 10 and it was back to the jersey shore hut for some coffee and a chance to watch the Czech’s BARELY scrape in against Greece with their 2-1 win in the Euro 2012 Championship.
Tune in same time tomorrow for more of the action.
After the light winds of Korea and Italy, the PWA slalom racers now head to Costa Brava for what could be some slightly more high octane racing. In previous years Costa Brava has delivered 50knots plus, with the guys struggling to hold onto even their smallest sails.
In PWA Korea out reporter on the ground was Dan Ellis, unfortunately Dan misses out on this event while he is back in Maui, but stepping into his shoes is seasoned slalom and formula racer Sean O’Brien.
We kick off with some more background on Sean and his thoughts on who to look out for on the race course this week, following this Sean will treating us to a full report from the action every day, so stay tuned!
This morning sailors are registering, there will then be a skippers meeting at 1pm and the first possible start at 2pm.
Name: Sean O’Brien
Nickname: Hansel (on account of how many pairs of sunglasses I own!)
Sail Number: AUS-120
Years Windsurfing: 23!
Disciplines: Formula, Slalom
Home town: Brisbane, Australia
Current Residence: Nago-Torbole, Lake Garda, Italy
Sponsors: Starboard, Point-7, GetWindsurfFit.com, SuperFit Training, VMG Blades
On the PWA Tour since, and best result:
I did World Cup in 2006 with one board and 2 sails in Fuerteventura and came 21st having never done any slalom before at that level, then after another 5 year hiatus I started doing the full tour last year and have been in the prize money once or twice J
How well prepared are you for Costa Brava?
Funnily enough I am probably the LEAST prepared person here. I was only able to pick my sails up on the weekend, so my first sail on them was yesterday (luckily they are easy to use and working straight out of the bag). My boards I’ve had dialled in back home since Christmas, however I had to send them to Europe from Korea without me and opening the bags yesterday I discovered quite a few holes from the plane-ride, so I’ve been repairing more than sailing the past day I’ve been in Costa Brava! That being said there’s more to this game than just equipment and one thing I have been doing all winter is a TON of racing in Australia and Asia, so my mind is in the right place.
How do you think you could do?
I’m still one of the newest sailors on the tour so my concentration is really just to see if I can get to some finals, then with that confidence boost I can look to stringing together a whole event over the coming seasons.
Names to watch out for:
After missing out in Korea, I’m sure Bjorn will be back and hungry for the win. Antoine is currently leading, but is yet to win an event with his new board sponsor, so I’m sure RRD and he will both be out for blood this event and if we get any of that crazy +60 knots like last year, Antoine is usually the quickest in those conditions.
Lots of new blood up the front this season, so we also need to watch out for Ross Williams and Antoine Questel, and of course the regulars at the top like Ben Van Der Steen, Julien Quentel and Josh Angulo.
Who could bring a surprise result?
From what we saw in Korea, Antoine Questel, who is currently 2nd in the rankings is definitely the one to watch on this front! Also never rule out the young guns like Pierre Montefon and Pascal Toselli who live not too far from here in France and are used to these conditions.
How are the conditions looking?
To be honest, the forecast looks fairly up and down for most of the week. However we had 9-13 knots forecast yesterday, but it blew up to 25 knots most of the day, then 55 knots in a storm front later in the evening. So I’m thinking to not even check the forecast anymore; anything is possible!