The 2007 Ulsan PWA World Cup - Day Four
Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / MauiSails) consolidates his event lead with a hard fought third place finish today. Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde) leapfrogs 2006 Champ Antoine Albeau (Starboard / NeilPryde) to go second as the Frenchman slides to third. With no women’s racing today, Karin Jaggi (F2 / North) stays on top. Sarah Hebert (Starboard / Naish) keeps second place and Ayako Suzuki (Starboard / Gaastra) remains in third place.
Once more today’s forecast was proved wrong when wind appeared from early in the morning and prompted Race Director Juan Antonio Aragon to start immediately with Race 6 of the men’s competition after the 11.00 skipper’s meeting. As the women have already completed 10 races from a maximum of 15, and there are still 4 full days of competition, the decision was taken to rest them for the time being.
Men’s Race 6
As the competition progresses, nerves are jangling and many riders are making uncharacteristic mistakes. Ben Van Der Steen (Exocet / Naish) and Chris Pressler (Starboard) both failed to advance from their qualifying heats. Van Der Steen was pipped by Jimmy Diaz (F2 / North) to the final qualification shot, and Pressler missed out by jumping the gun too soon.
The first semi-final was another case in point. An incredible 5 Riders – Cyril Moussilmani (Fanatic / North), Robby Swift (JP / NeilPryde), Julien Quentel (Starboard / NeilPryde), 2006 World Champion Antoine Albeau (Starboard / NeilPryde) and Peter Volwater (F2 / North) were all despatched back to the beach armed with disqualifications.
There was further controversy in the second semi-final when Arnon Dagan (Fanatic / NeilPryde) narrowly missed out on his berth in the race 6 final. The Israeli was clearly seen feeling the anguish after dropping down to ninth overall since his impressive start to the event.
NeilPryde head tester Pieter Bijl (Fanatic / NeilPryde) led off the start line of the final and was neck and neck with team-mates Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde), and Finian Maynard (F2 / NeilPryde) along the first reach.
Starting last was event leader Kevin Pritchard, who caught up well to launch a challenge on the frontrunners over the second reach. With Buzianis in the lead, and Bijl holding second, Pritchard made it up to third place by expertly gliding wide around the traffic at the third mark, leaving Maynard in his wake after the British Virgin Islander catapulted whilst trying to get back up to speed.
Buzianis held his own over the final two reaches to record a hard fought victory and Bijl took the second place he was merited after an exciting race for the runners up spot. Pritchard secured third after showing remarkable recovery skills after a poor start to defend his event lead.
After a break for lunch there was a flurry of excitement on the beach as the wind shifted a full 180 degrees and blew up strongly. The new breeze was short-lived however, and the rider’s were kept on standby until competition was called-off for the day at 16.30
Pritchard has put some distance between himself and runner-up Buzianis and will need to be kept in check by his rivals to prevent pulling away into an unassailable lead. With a potential 9 races to come, many are fearful of a comeback by ruthless 2006 champion Albeau who has been uncharacteristically below par – so far.
Perhaps most dangerous so far is the silent threat of Buzianis, who has ghosted his way into second despite being un-typically slow out of the blocks at the start-line. His speed is a real danger and he is in the perfect position to launch an assault on the event title and tour lead.
All competitors are to be treated to an evening of cocktails and a formal dinner tonight by the organisers who have shown outstanding hospitality on this the PWA’s first visit to Korea.