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06/15/2009 - created by John Skye

PWA Catalunya World Cup

Event Summary - Antoine Albeau and Valerie Ghibaudo are crowned as the 2009 Costa Brava Champions, both taking decisive wins to establish their positions at the top of the PWA Slalom World Tour. Despite an unfavourable forecast Costa Brava delivered enough wind to provide a spectacular full round of slalom for both men’s and women’s fleets and climaxed with thrilling action right up to the semi finals of round two.

Round 3 of the PWA World Tour Slalom took place in the beautiful Costa Brava region of Catalunya, Spain. Set on the Ballena Alegre Camping resort inside the Bay of Roses, it was a slalom sailing paradise ready to test the world’s best, men and women slalom racers.

Action began instantly as the thermal sea breeze kick started the event on day one. Two heats were held on a giant four-gybe slalom course. The huge reaches leading to spectacular speed battles as sailors topped 30kts, a real test of strength and equipment.

From the outset it looked like all the major players meant business, with all the top seeds advancing easily into the quarter finals along with un-seeded standout “sailor of the day” Damien Le Guen (JP/NeilPryde) of France.

Day 2 continued where Day 1 had left off. Another huge course meant drag racing reaches, as once again the top seeds moved to the next round, proving that they had earned their rightful places in the PWA rankings.

Quarterfinals

At this point the competition started to heat up with the standard jumping through the roof. The difficult light and gusty winds meant any mistakes were cruelly punished.

Kevin Pritchard (Starboard/Gaastra/Dakine) was the first big name to fall when his outhaul rope exploded, leaving his title hopes floating in the Mediterranean. Number 3 seed Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Exocet/MauiSails) also exited at the quarter finals. A crucial over early put him out of the running before the race had even started.

All the sailors on the staring grid in the semi finals had the ability to win a final, but only the top 4 qualifiers would even be given the opportunity. First to fall was Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard/Severne). Winning all his previous heats he made a poor decision to change fins, losing power and failing to advance.

Semi final 2 saw an on-fire Peter Volwater (F2/MauiSails) lead off the start. The powerful Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde) had a point to prove and reeled him in, taking the win and giving everyone a clear indication of his intentions.

The finals

Dunkerbeck made no mistakes in the losers' final, asserting his authority on the pack with a masterful display. Patrik Diethelm (F2/North Sails) followed on his tail taking second by a comfortable margin, ahead of Josh Angulo (Angulo/MauiSails) in 3rd.

The much anticipated winner’s final saw a thrilling conclusion to Race 1. Off the start it was Steve Allen that took control and arrived at the first gybe in first place by half a board length. Right on his tail were Micah Buzianis (JP/NeilPryde) and Antoine Albeau - both attacking for that number one slot. Antoine muscled his way through the gybe, exiting in a dominant position. Meanwhile as the three fought to hold their ranking, Ross Williams (Tabou/Gaastra) capitalised on the battle, sailing high, keeping out of trouble and then moved into attack position on the outside gybe approach. Antoine held onto first, Williams moved into 2nd and Allen just about held off Buzianis out and out challenge to take 3rd.

Women’s Race 1

The standard of the women’s fleet has risen dramatically and this event saw 16 competitors of the highest level. Even more impressive is the amount of youth in the fleet showing how promising the future looks for women’s racing.

First round standout was Alice Arutkin (Starboard/North Sails). She blasted into 1st place ahead of World Champion Karin Jaggi (F2/Severne). At just 17 years old she is definitely a hot tip for the future. Unfortunately for her a timing mistake in the final meant she eventually finished 6th.

The women’s finals

The losers final was won by fired up French woman Morane Demont (Starboard/Severne). Demont had an over-early in the first round, but made no mistakes in the losers' final. Celebrating her 16th birthday midweek, she is surely another high hope for the future. Cagla Kubat (Starboard/North Sails) looked very comfortable on the water and took 2nd. A winter in Maui, training with Jimmy Diaz, was clearly paying off. In 3rd position young Turkish hope Lena Erdil (Starboard/The Loft) was fuming. She had been leading an earlier heat when it was cancelled and in the re-run things did not go the same way. Sometimes racing can be very cruel.

The final was a more traditional affair with Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou/The Loft) and Karin Jaggi both fighting it out for the top spot. A minor starting error from Karin opened the door for Valerie and she made no mistake taking advantage dominating the race from start to finish. In 3rd place was a surprised Marta Hlavaty (Starboard/MauiSails). More at home on the Olympic RSX board, she used her light wind skills to work through the lulls and move into the final podium position.


Men’s Race 2

No wind on day 3 gave sailors time to reflect, but they were back in action by day 4 as the afternoon wind switched back on. Race 2 was run on a much shorter course, favouring the lighter guys who accelerated rapidly out of the gybes.

Early round stand out was Frenchmen Pierre Mortefon (JP/NeilPryde) who 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 and earned himself the title of “PWA Sailor of the day” in the process.

Marcus  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 went wrong with the start he commented, “My speed was too good, I was just going too fast!”

Quarterfinals

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. 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.

Semi-Finals

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. Finian Maynard (RRD/NeilPryde) 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 reveling in 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/Dakine) he levelled 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 and Bjorn Dunkerbeck that rounded the mark first. Albeau made it through cleanly but behind him, the rest of the fleet stalled at the gybe. Peter Volwater and Micah Buzianis 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 cancellation of the heat.

Women Race 2

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 shot into the lead off the start, leaving Karin Jaggi 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 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.

Waiting Game

The waiting game was the name of days 5 and 6. Despite promising forecasts the wind teased the competitors, hovering around the minimum throughout the weekend. However there was still plenty of action on the Ballena Alegre campsite. With both a windsurf trade exhibition and huge Volkswagen rally, there was something for everyone as the weekend crowd descended upon the race site to soak up the carnival atmosphere, rub shoulders with the stars and prepare for the evening extravaganza on the beach. The PWA’s live ticker completed the action with live chats and plenty of informative insight to what goes on both on the races course and behind the scenes.

The final day of the 2009 PWA Costa Brava World Cup summarised the frustrating week of waiting. With a solid forecast, all hope was for one last blast of action to cap off the event with some late drama. All the ingredients were in place for a grand finale, but as the wind filled in high-level cloud moved into town, shutting down the breeze, and leaving the likes of Ross Williams teetering on the edge of breakdown.

Williams started the day, sitting in the nasty position of having everything to lose and nothing to gain. Competition could only mean one thing for the English high flyer: Having already lost his semi final heat the previous day, one more completed heat would have seen him drop from 2nd to 8th. Fortunately for the British racer, despite numerous attempts to finish the second round, race director Juan Antonio Aragon eventually was forced to call it a day in failing conditions.

Ross Williams: “It has been a very stressful 12 hours, but it feels amazing now it is all over. In the morning I thought we would be racing and had dealt with it in my mind, but as the day went on and the chance of no action increased, it was really hard. The last hour of waiting was absolute torture!”

So Antoine Albeau and Valerie Ghibaudo took the Costa Brava Champions title, both celebrating back to back victories and cementing their positions at the top of the ranking. When asked how she felt, the answer was typical of the French speed queen.

Valerie Ghibaudo “’appy, ‘appy, ‘appy. It’s my second win and puts me in a very good position for the overall tour. Last year I did really badly in Costa Brava, so it’s nice to come back this year and win.”

Antoine as always remained philosophical as ever:

Antoine Albeau “It was hard for everyone. In that sort of racing it is so easy to make mistakes. Looking back, I am really happy to have won that first round!

I am happy with the first 3 events. With new boards and low winds it is good to know I am going well in the light stuff. Now we move into the windy part of the tour so it will be interesting to see how everyone is going in that.

I feel some pressure now from Ross, but there are also lots of other guys that can still do really well. Its still just the beginning!”

The PWA crew now move on to Lanzarote, for Round 1 of the PWA freestyle world tour, which is shaping up for an explosive start to the season. Stay tuned to the PWA web site to find out who will emerge victorious. Join the action from the 30th June.

For a full list of results, the PWA photo gallery and much more, check out www.pwaworldtour.com.


Final Event results
Men:


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)


Women:

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)

Current overall standings
Men (after 3 events)

1st Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde)
2nd Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard/Severne)
3rd Finian Maynard (RRD/NeilPryde)
4th Ross Williams (Tabou/Gaastra)
5th Jimmy Diaz (Starboard/North Sails)
6th Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Exocet/MauiSails)
7th Peter Volwater (F2/MauiSails)
8th Kevin Pritchard (Starboard/Gaastra/Dakine)
9th Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard/North Sails)
10th Patrik Diethelm (F2/North Sails)

Women (after 2 events)
1st Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou/The Loft)
2nd Karin Jaggi (F2/Severne)
3rd Sarah Hebert (Starboard/Naish)
4th Alice Arutkin (Starboard/North Sails)
5th Ayako Suzuki (Starboard/Gaastra)


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