By Andrew Buchanan / PWA
Day 2: Williams steals the show to climb to the top of the event standings on day two in Austria.
Picking up race two where it had been left off, the loser’s final opened competition’s second day of racing. On a slightly tweaked course with the start and finish switched to starboard tack, Italian racer Patrick Diethelm (F2, North Sails) drew first blood, sailing to victory to claim ninth position in the elimination, ahead of an eager looking Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra) who settled for tenth.
The winner’s final was absent of 3 x World Champion Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde) after he departed the race in the first round the previous day. This left Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne) free to exploit the situation after he muscled his way to the front of the fleet and remained unchallenged to the finish line. In his wake he left an on-form Finian Maynard (RRD / NeilPryde) in second and Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Exocet / MauiSails) looking equally dialed in to the conditions in third.
With the wind increasing to a solid 16-25 knots, race three enjoyed some of the finest conditions of the event thus far. Laying his demons to rest, Albeau settled back into his familiar position at the front of the pack to win his opening heat, repeating the feat in round two.
Continuing a run of uncharacteristically erratic form, Josh Angulo (Angulo / MauiSails / Dakine) exited in the second round of race three after missing out on qualification by two positions. It would be a tough call to say if the usually consistent Cabo Verde resident will regain his form in time to salvage his current twentieth position, luckily for Angulo, there’s still time on the clock.
Moving into the first semi final, Costa Hoevel continued to exert his dominance by posting a convincing race win. Behind him, Maynard’s campaign grew momentum with some slick racing in second.
The following semi final proved to be close fought battle, ultimately going to a newly invigorated Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / Gaastra / Dakine), who fended off advances from Albeau in second, and at-the-time event leader, Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde) in third.
The elimination final proved to be an Anglo-French battle between Williams and Albeau. Despite leading the pack, Williams had his work cut out to hold off sustained attack from Albeau, who was pulling out all the stops to try and overthrow the Brit. Where Albeau had straight-line speed, Williams’ lighter frame gave him agility and speed off the mark around the gybes. The stalemate continued to the finish line, where Williams stood his ground to take his first race win of the event, Albeau bagged second and Quentel finished up in third.
The losers final handed Adriaan Van Rijsselbergh (JP / NeilPryde) a solid result as he shocked his rivals with some classy sailing, which saw him win the heat and in-turn hand him ninth position for the elimination.
Heading directly into the fourth and final elimination of the day (four races allows sailors to discard their worst result), conditions continued to convince any doubters of Podersdorf’s credibility as a World Cup event. Wind gusting to 25 knots and comparatively flat water set the tone for some spectacular slalom racing.
Starting in clinical fashion, Maynard looked increasingly more threatening as he systematically executed three back-to-back heat victories to advance into the race final. Rising to meet the challenge, Costa Hoevel mimicked the British Virgin Islander’s run by stitching together his own faultless run into the final eight.
Looking more comfortable in the Austrian conditions, Angulo posed a potential threat as he tapped into his usual form to bag a spot in the semi finals. His run would be halted by a false start, causing him to be disqualified from the heat, and thus giving him more work to do to climb back into top ten contention.
As the final rolled round, a selection of familiar faces took their positions to finish up the day’s racing with one last high-speed slalom bout. From the off, Williams showed he was very much in the groove. Taking the lead on the first reach, the four gybes looked to be a mere formality for the Brit, who consolidated his lead on the final reach, allowing him to savor the moment he secured his second race win of the event, and taking the lead in the event standings.
Giving chase was Costa Hoevel, who finished the race in second, enough to hand him third place overall for the event so far, and Albeau in third, who move up the ranks to occupy second place in the event’s standings.
In the losers final, Diethelm equaled his best result in the event by securing victory, and climbing the overall ranks to fifteenth.
Conditions permitting, racing will resume at 10.30am on the morning of day three. The sailors skippers meeting is at 10.00am local time (GMT +1).