The Sea of Korea is all set for the inevitable onslaught of the coming days, and the local community gear up to welcome the charismatic competitors at what is bound to be an extravagant opening ceremony where local culture meets western rock with a sky full of fireworks.
For the fourth year in a row Jinha beach will play host to the PWA’s most poignant players at the inaugural event of the 2010 slalom season. Over the course of the morning, fifty-seven men, and thirteen women fled to the beach with gear in hand to register their intention to race round the buoys and stake their claim to the overall world crown.
In the men’s fleet, the very best racers from around the globe made the trip to Korea, including a long list of former PWA champions from the 2009 slalom world title holder Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde), to the twelve times overall world champion, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne), the 2007 Ulsan World Cup winner Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra, Dakine), and the 2009 Podersdorf champion Ross Williams (Tabou, Gaastra).
The women’s fleet in Ulsan is also a star-studded affair with the likes of thirteen times PWA world champion, Karin Jaggi (Patrick Diethelm, Severne), battling it out with freestyle world champion turned slalom racer Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard, Gaastra), French champion Sarah Hebert (Starboard, Naish), and many more.
A Day At The Beach
Light winds gave both the men’s and women’s fleets plenty of opportunity to relax and rig their new gear to perfection. A gentle breeze tempted a few sailors out on the water on their 9m+ sails and big boards, but they were left to quietly admire the tropical views rather than tear it up round the racecourse’s turquoise waters.
Whilst the sailors were preparing, we took the opportunity to catch up with a few of the fleet’s hotshots to find out what they’ve been working on over the winter.
Robby Swift (JP, NeilPryde)
“Antoine, Micah Buzianis (JP, NeilPryde), and myself have been hard at work developing the new race sails. This year we’ve gone for something which has a much lower aspect ratio, which we believe gives more bottom end grunt, and has less swing weight, allowing us more control and better performance around the race course.”
Josh Angulo (Angulo, Gun)
“As you know, I’ve recently signed a new deal with Gun sails, and so I’ve been tuning those up recently. But, before all of that came about I was working really hard on our Magnum slalom boards. Last year they were very quick in a straight line but weren’t performing as well as they could have in certain race situations, so I’ve tweaked them slightly to make sure they go round a course much better this season. Now the boards have more lift which will help when I’m in dirty air or I need to pinch up to make a mark in lighter winds.”
Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard, North)
“I’ve been working really hard all winter on absolutely everything. I spent 6 weeks working on the sails in Maui with Kai Hopf and barely had time to sleep! Since then I’ve been working non stop on my new boards, as well as testing the North Shox.”
Finian Maynard (RRD, Gaastra)
“When I started working with Gaastra at the end of last year, I thought I would have a lot to do in terms of getting the sails to work well with my boards, but they actually paired up extremely well. So I’ve put quite a lot of time into developing the new X-Fire’s, especially the bigger board, as that was the area I felt needed improving the most.”
The forecast is looking hopeful for the week ahead here on Jinha beach, so we should see some first class action as and when the wind arrives.