The 2007 Ulsan PWA World Cup Day One
Jinha Beach delivers as Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / MauiSails) takes first blood from 2006 World Champion Antoine Albeau (Starboard / NeilPryde), and Arnon Dagan (Fanatic / NeilPryde) who rolled-in third. Karin Jaggi (F2 / North) wins the first two women’s races ahead of stiff opposition from Sarah Hebert (Starboard / Naish) and Ayuko Suzuki (Starboard / Gaastra).
Last night’s high profile opening ceremony officially gave the PWA’s newest tour stop the green light, and good breeze allowed racing to start immediately this morning.
Most of the main names made it out of their qualifying heats and into some tough semi-finals draws run over a 6 leg, downwind course.
Just missing out from the first semi were Ben van Der Steen (Exocet / Naish), and Jimmy Diaz (F2 / North), as well as Cyril Moussilmani and newcomer to Slalom 42, Robby Swift (JP / NeilPryde) from the second semi.
Van Der Steen was then sure to win the losers final and Diaz took comfort with a second place finish ahead of Moussilmani who bagged the third spot.
Another impressive debutant at Slalom was France’s Julien Quentel (Starboard / NeilPryde, a formula windsurfing specialist, who comfortably qualified on his first attempt. He joined a strong 8-man final consisting of no less than 6 NeilPryde team riders.
Considering the wind was 10- 13 knots at best, the riders displayed incredible speed in the gusty conditions. With a super-close start leaving the sailors neck and neck, Pritchard got the best line to the first mark ahead of Albeau, who was constantly applying pressure and looking for a chance to overtake.
The American held his own to take an important psychological victory over Albeau – last season’s dominant force – who on this occasion had to settle for second. Finishing comfortably in third place was Israeli speedster, Arnon Dagan (Fanatic / NeilPryde).
Dagan, high on the adrenaline the race provided described the final from his perspective. ‘A bunch of us were quite early to the start line and had to pull-up to avoid going over early, especially where I was near the upwind end. That meant I had to really fight for position after we’d crossed the line. I had great board speed and was looking down at Antoine and Kevin. At the second mark Kevin went wide and Antoine and I tried to force our way inside as it was our only chance to overtake; but he kept it together and we had to settle for second and third’.
Albeau added that ‘It was hard to catch Kevin as I didn’t have my usual pace coming out of the start, and I was lower than him, which made it harder to catch him at the first mark – my only real opportunity really’
Pritchard meanwhile, was ecstatic. ‘I’m so happy to come out on top. I got a great start and then just had to connect the dots and stay ahead! It’s very satisfying, when you’ve trained hard and wondered how your gear would compare once the first event’s underway, to know that effort’s paying off’
Karin Jaggi convincingly won both her races, but the multiple world champion didn’t get it all her own way. She was pushed close by Sarah Hebert who scored second place in race one, and Ayuko Suzuki (Starboard / Gaastra who secured third.
In race two she was also forced to rely on years of experience to stamp her authority when Suzuki started amazingly, but finished second, this time ahead of Hebert.
Jaggi, reflecting on the day said, ‘I had bad starts but great speed, which is what saved me really. In these conditions Ayuko, who was unknown opposition to me before this event, was dangerous, and I had to rely on board speed to get ahead after her great starting skills’
Suzuki added that she was nervous on this her PWA debut. ‘But after the first race I felt confident I had starting skill and wanted to consolidate it with a better finish’
Race two was started but abandoned after the first heat due to diminishing wind conditions. Skipper’s meeting is set for 09.00 tomorrow and we’re looking forward to some more cutthroat action and watching the story unravel.
You can follow the day’s events with our live event ticker and elimination ladders, daily summaries, and photo galleries at www.pwaworldtour.com. Plus, there’s a dedicated event website at www.pwaulsan.com