DAY 1 – Arrigheti storms into the lead with three solid bullets in an action packed afternoon, kicking off the women’s world tour finale in fine style.
It was all smiles at registration as the sun beamed down on a beautiful day over the glorious cote d’azur creating an extremely relaxed vibe to the morning. This didn’t last for long though as bang on schedule the wind filled in making way for the fast and furious females to hit the water at two o’clock and lock into some fierce competition.
A four buoy downwind slalom course was set by race director, Juan Antonio Aragon and his team allowing three full races to be completed by the twenty women that had turned up to battle it out for glory in Almanarre.
The wind varied between 8 and 15 knots throughout the afternoon which made equipment selection critical to performance. Some sailors opted for 8.3s to be safe at the gybes, whilst others stuck to their 7.8s hoping they could either pump their way back onto the plane as they rounded each mark, or that a lucky gust would help them carry their speed.
Arrighetti Annihilates The Competition
The 2009 women’s slalom world champion, Valerie Arrighetti (Tabou, Loft, Mystic) stamped her authority on the elite group of racers that had gathered in Almanarre for the final stop of the 2010 women’s world tour today. The French local was almost unstoppable as she flew off the start line in final after final, without ever needing to look back. She built a strong lead from the very start of every race, to score three consecutive firsts in convincing style. Despite four days of the competition remaining, it’ll be hard for anyone to topple the 2009 champ from the top if she continues to sail with such dominance.
A Fighting Chance
Although Arrighetti claimed victory in every race today, the current tour leader and former world champion, Karin Jaggi (Patrik, Severne) scored a consistent set of results that saw her into second place for now. A second and two thirds is an awesome score line by anyone’s standards, but Jaggi seemed slightly disappointed with her performance, and was perhaps held back by not having a large enough sail. Stuck on her 7.8 whilst others were on 8.3s had her fighting hard from the start, and hoping for stronger winds. It just goes to show how critical kit selection is when these world-class racers register their gear at the beginning of the season.
Also fighting hard for an end of year podium position is the young French star, Alice Arutkin (Starboard, North). She began her assault with an explosive set of seconds from the first two races today, and a sixth in the third, which sees her just two points behind Jaggi overall. If Alice continues to sail with such speed and consistency as her first two races she could well be a challenger for that final spot on the podium.
Stand Out Performance
Following a disappointing start to the event with a premature start in race one Italian racer, Greta Benvenuti left any negative thoughts back on the beach and hit the water to race hard once again, and a second in the loser’s final of race two clearly lifted her spirits. So much so that she shot out of the blocks in her first heat of race three to finish clear of the pack just moments behind Arrighetti, and then claimed a fifth in a star studded winner’s final. A good result for Benvenuti here would consolidate her position as a top ten rider, and could even lift her up a place or two in the rankings.
Final Few Words
“It feels amazing to be in the lead after the first day of racing. I used a 7.6 for the first elimination which worked well, but I felt I needed a bigger sail for the next race because the wind was a bit light in places. I took my 8.3 and had amazing speed for both race two and three with my medium board which is a 102L Tabou Manta. I was also using some new Gasoil fins today, which are much softer than those that I normally use but they were great. I really want to win here in Almanarre because it has a special place in my heart – it’s not my home spot, but it is where I won my first world cup event in 1996, and so I have great memories of this place. It’s a bit annoying for me that I can’t claim the title even if I win here due to the tie break rules, which I think need to be changed, but I won’t let that get me down now. Hopefully we’ll get plenty of wind and lots more racing this week.”
“I’ve had a bit of a rough start to this competition with some sickness yesterday, and a bit this morning, but when I got out on the water I was actually okay. The wind was fairly light out there today especially in the gybes, but I think it was fair racing – I was on my biggest gear which is a 110L board, and a 7.8. I’m not too disappointed about being in second right now, but hopefully we’ll get plenty of wind to allow for more racing. The forecast looks promising for strong winds from both directions. I’d like it if we got some really hardcore races in because we haven’t had any of those this season.”
DAY 2 – Gentle winds halt the proceedings on day two of the women’s slalom final leaving the sailors to bask in the glorious Mediterranean sunshine on the beautiful beach of Almanarre.
Patience proves key in world cup windsurfing, and today was a fine example, with a light offshore breeze simply teasing the competitors and therefore forcing them to endure an entire day on standby.
What Women Want
Whilst the sailors were on standby, we took the opportunity to find out what the world’s most elite female race force think of women’s only events.
Verena Fauster (Patrik, Gaastra) – ITA 31
“It’s really special having a women’s only event, and I think it should happen more often because it focuses everyone’s attention directly on us. It’s also very nice for all the girls to be together having fun. I do however think that if the event had been confirmed earlier in the season there would’ve been a better turn out, but there’s always next year!”
Marion Mortefon – FRA 141
“This is a great event, and such a good concept because it allows the women to take the limelight for once.”
Delphine Cousin (Fanatic, North) – FRA 775
“Having a PWA event with just the girls is an excellent idea because we can get much more racing in which is the real reason we’re here. We wouldn’t have had anywhere near the same amount of racing yesterday if the guys had been here too.”
Greta Marchegger (JP, Gaastra) – ITA 193
“It’s really cool that there’s an event which is solely for the girls because there are loads of women in the PWA, and in windsurfing itself, so we need to promote the fact that it’s not just a sport for men.”
Greta Benvenuti – ITA 38
“It’s so much better for the women to have events like this because we can get more time on the water competing.”
Sarah Hebert (Naish, Naish) – ARM 1
“It’s an excellent idea, and will definitely help to promote windsurfing to more women because the media is fully focussed on females for once.”
Julie Berthou – FRA 451
“I’m really happy to be here at the PWA event purely for women because it shows all of the spectators that females can windsurf too!”
Lindsay Berruyer – FRA 260
“I think it’s great having events like this because those sailors lower down the ranks don’t feel as intimidated as when the guys are around. It’s amazing that girls like me can race on the same course as the world champion!”
Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard, Gaastra) – ARU 91
“Whatssss Up! I’ve been super excited about this all-women’s event for a long time now. It’s really cool to have all of the attention on us, usually we’re a bit overshadowed by the men. I’m not sure why, we’re so much sexier than them!!!”
Karin Jaggi (Patrik, Severne) – SUI 14
“I think it’s really important to have women only events because the focus is clearly on us, and it gives the spectators the chance to see how high the level actually is in the female fleet. It’s definitely advantageous for us because usually we have to compete for coverage with the men, which makes it much more difficult. It’s also great for the younger girls coming in to the sport because it’s far less intimidating.”
Olivia Piani (Exocet, Loft) – FRA 51
“It’s great for the girls here because we can do so much more racing than we would otherwise do, and everyone gets to see how good we all are!”
Marion Raisi – Women’s Event Manager
“I think this event is really important for the women because it’s the only week that focuses totally on the girls – the guys have plenty of events on their own, so why not the women too! It’s also important for the media outside of the industry because at a mixed event they’re bound to focus on the men because their sailing looks more impressive, whereas the press is forced to show off the girls here. If we are to grow the sport of windsurfing this is crucial.”
Lise Vidal (Exocet, North) – FRA 19
“We can do so much more racing when we’re on our own, but I think the best solution would be to have a mixed event with the same amount of time dedicated to women’s competition as the men’s.”
Fanny Aubet (JP, NeilPryde) – FRA 809
“It’s much better for promoting the sport to females, and will surely motivate more to join in.”
Ophelie Joly (Fanatic, North) – FRA 64
“I think it’s a great idea having an event with just the girls because it promotes the women’s side of windsurfing.”
Morane Demont (Starboard, North) – FRA 59
“This is a great concept that Marion has come up with and it’s turning out to be an amazing event that will help promote women’s windsurfing. I do still enjoy the mixed events too, but it’d be nice to have one event every year like this.”
Valerie Arrighetti (Tabou, Loft, Mystic) – FRA 444
“This is absolutely unique – it’s the only event of it’s kind. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it in my whole career! What a wonderful idea.”
Marianne Kaplas (Starboard, Severne) – FIN 134
“This is only my second competition, but I’m definitely enjoying it more because we are getting on the water racing whenever the conditions allow, and don’t have to wait on land watching the men!”
Alice Arutkin (Starboard, North) – FRA 111
“Women’s only events are an excellent idea because we get to go on the water for the whole day instead of sitting on the beach. As well as getting much more racing in, we also have so much more time which enables the fleet to be split in every single race and allows the newer girls a chance to learn more, and perhaps even win a heat or two!”
Emilie Lallement – FRA 494
“I’m only 15 years old, so this event is a really good opportunity for me to race against girls of a much higher level. It’s cool having the guys around, but I think this way we get more racing in.”
Estelle Barre – FRA 675
“This is my first ever PWA event so I’m not sure whether it’s better to have the guys and girls together, but it’s very well organised, and great to be racing against the top level sailors.”
Results After 3 Races
With no racing the event standings remain the same as last night, with Arrighetti out in front, and Jaggi, and Arutkin close behind.
1st Valerie Arrighetti (Tabou, Loft, Mystic)
2nd Karin Jaggi (Patrik, Severne)
3rd Alice Arutkin (Starboard, North)
4th Lise Vidal (Exocet, North)
5th Fanny Aubet (JP, NeilPryde)
6th Sarah Hebert (Naish, Naish)
7th Delphine Cousin (Fanatic, North)
8th Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard, Gaastra)
9th Ophelle Joly (Fanatic, North)
10th Marion Mortefon
Eye On The Horizon
The forecast for tomorrow isn’t looking too promising at the moment, but a good ‘vent d’est’ is forecast for Tuesday which should ensure some more fast and furious slalom racing. This could however all change in an instant though, so there’s still every possibility that we’ll see some more racing before tomorrow’s out.
Live GPS Tracking
Yesterday the women were tracked throughout the afternoon. Check out the racing, including the top speeds they achieved, by following this link HERE.
Keep in the groove
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