PWA Catalunya World Cup
Day 4 - A tough day at the office for the world’s best slalom sailors as emotions run high, nerves are tested and dreams shattered.
Day four proved to be a difficult day for many racers as the light sea breeze almost allowed a complete race on the beautiful Costa Brava. Race director Juan Antonio made the decision to shorten the course, sticking with 4 gybes, but reducing the reaches, making for some of the most dramatic racing of the week.
Most competitors enjoyed a relaxing morning, taking their time to tune their gear and enjoy the campsite facilities. By the late afternoon conditions were improving rapidly and finally race two got underway at 4pm.
Other than the usual suspects, who all progressed easily through to the quarterfinals, there were a few standouts from the first round.
Frenchmen Pierre Mortefon (JP/NeilPryde) sailed brilliantly to not only pass through round one, but continue onwards all the way to the semi-final. At only 19 years old and with relatively little PWA experience he showed great promise for the future and earned himself the title of “PWA Sailor of the day” in the process.
Markus Pöltenstein (Fanatic/NeilPryde) was also flying. In heat 3 he held off a turbo charged Finian Maynard (RRD/NeilPryde) and had it not been for an over early in the quarterfinal, could have gone further. When asked what happened he commented, “My speed was too good, I was just going too fast!”
The level went through the roof as they raised the green flag for the first quarterfinal heat. The pressure was on with any mistake a potential disaster for the big guns.
First to falter was Josh Angulo (Angulo/MauiSails). He was a casualty of Mortefon’s run, finishing in 5th place and missing out on the all-important place in the semis. Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard/North Sails) and Arnon Dagan (Tabou/Gaastra) were deprived a position in the next round when they jumped the gun over early and were forced to enviously watch their heats from the beach.
Jimmy Diaz (Starboard/North Sails) seemed to be on a mission at this point. His smooth gybes were paying off on the shortened course and he dominated his first two heats, comfortably moving into the top 16. Also showing promise was Robby Swift (JP/NeilPryde). After a poor start to the season at the first two events, he had a score to settle and sailed aggressively though to the semis.
With the tension building for the semi finals, the wind was already starting to back off, making for some of the most testing conditions so far this year. Consistency was rewarded and mistakes punished.
The first semi final saw a tight battle down the first reach. Maynard used his incredible board speed to hit the gybe mark first, but it was Steve Allen who came out on top, blitzing a trail to victory. Julien Quentel (RRD/NeilPryde) seemed to be loving the light conditions and he too moved ahead of Maynard, booking his place in the ultimate heat. Maynard held onto third place, but the real battle was occurring in his wake. After a dreadful start from Kevin Pritchard (Starboard/Gaastra) he leveled with Diaz and the two Starboard riders scrapped their way around the course until finally Diaz used his gybing prowess to gain an advantage and hammer home, sealing the final qualifying slot.
By the time semi final two was under starting orders, the wind was hovering around the minimum limit. Nevertheless it was the large frames of Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde) and Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard/Severne) that rounded the mark first. Albeau made it through cleanly but behind him, the rest of the fleet stalled at the gybe. Peter Volwater (F2/MauiSails) and Micah Buzianis (JP/NeilPryde) were first to break away, pumping furiously and leaving the remaining sailors wallowing behind. Dunkerbeck managed to hold onto the fourth slot, but the pack were gathering like hungry wolves as the big man worked hard to stay moving. Unfortunately for the top 4, but fortunately for the back four, the N flag was hoisted, signifying the cancelation of the heat.
On standby for much of the afternoon, Women’s heat one hit the water between the two men’s semi finals. In an almost identical repeat of the Race one results, Alice Arutkin (Starboard/North Sails) shot into the lead off the start, leaving Karin Jaggi (F2/Severne) trailing hot on her heals. The young French girl extended her lead in the light breeze, winning the heat comfortably. Karin cruised into second and Marta Hlavaty (Starboard/MauiSails) continued her consistent performance in third. Taking the final qualifying spot was Fanny Aubet (JP/NeilPryde) who held off a strong challenge from the flying Turk Lena Erdil (Starboard/The Loft).
Like in the men’s elimination, semi final one was as far as they could go as the wind dropped below the minimum requirements and the Race director was forced to call it a day.
Tomorrows forecast looks more promising than any of the previous days and local boys Eric and Alex Sanllehy (North Sails) are promising a great days racing. Be sure to check www.pwawordtour.com for more live ticker action, great John Carter photos and all the latest news from Costa Brava.
1st Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde) 2nd Ross Williams (Tabou/Gaastra) 3rd Steve Allen 4th Micah Buzianis (JP/NeilPryde) 5th Jimmy Diaz (Starboard/North Sails) 6th Finian Maynard (RRD/NeilPryde) 7th Peter Volwater (F2/MauiSails) 8th Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard/Severne) 9th Robby Swift (JP/NeilPryde) 10th Sylvain Moussilmani (Starboard/Simmer Style)
1st Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou/The Loft) 2nd Karin Jaggi (F2/Severne) 3rd Marta Hlavaty (Starboard/MauiSails) 4th Sarah Hebert (Starboard/Naish) 5th Lise Vidal (Exocet/North Sails)