Fuerteventura PWA World Cup
The world’s best racers had their mettle well and truly tested on the opening day of the 2019 Fuerteventura PWA World Cup - sponsored by René Egli - as the nuclear winds that Fuerte is famed for arrived from the very beginning. With winds in excess of 40 knots and a confused water state - with wind chop going one way and an underlying swell another - it really was survival of the fittest out there. Usually, Slalom is all about speed, but today, at times, it was more just about trying to stay on your feet for the duration of the course. Those with excellent gybing skills generally fared better than those who fly at Mach 10 as keeping an element of control was vital to succeed. But sometimes keeping an element of control was even difficult with many of the sailors maxed out on their smallest gear during the opening race.
At the end of the opening day there is almost nothing to separate the ‘Big Top 3’ - Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde), Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins) and Matteo iachino (Starboard / Severne / Shamal Sunglasses) - with all three men making a bright start to the event by qualifying for both of the winners’ finals. However, it is Iachino who currently holds a slender lead at the top of the overnight event rankings after winning the second elimination to hold a 0.3 of a point lead. Mortefon and Albeau both recorded a second and a 3rd each and are perfectly positioned heading into Friday.
Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA Sails) often sails well here and the Frenchman made a solid start to the event today - qualifying for both winners’ finals before finishing 5th and 6th respectively and he currently occupies 4th place in the event rankings ahead of Finian Maynard (FMX Racing), who recorded two top ten results, Antoine Questel (I-99 / S2Maui) and Cyril Moussilmani (RRD / RRD Sails) - who both qualified for the top 16 in the opening two races.
Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / Duotone) came into the event tied on points with reigning world champion Antoine Albeau, but the Flying Dutchman rode his luck today. The 26-year-old was off the pace in the opening elimination and suffered a shock quarterfinal exit. Then in the next elimination it looked as though Vonk would be facing a semifinal exit, only for Bruno Martini (I-99 / Challenger Sails) to produce a poor last gybe to gift Vonk the last place in the winners’ final, which he duly grabbed with both hands before going to finish 4th and get his event up and running! Vonk sits in 8th place at the end of day one.
One sailor who really caught the eye today was Sebastian Kornum (JP / NeilPryde) with the Dane consistently timing brilliant starts to put himself into contention in virtually every heat he sailed. Kornum was leading his semifinal in elimination one, but fell in on one of the gybes to miss out, but then made the winners’ final of the second elimination after a slice of good luck for himself, and a big piece of misfortune for Maciek Rutkowski (FMX Racing / Challenger Sails). Kornum then went all out in the final, but just jumped the gun to be disqualified, but is still currently ranked 9th after a solid day.
Rutkowski completes the current top 10, but things could’ve been even better for the Pole had he not been extremely unlucky in the opening semifinal of elimination two. The 27-year-old looked destined for the winners’ final, but on the final reach, his mast exploded just metres before the finish line, which cost him a place in the top 8. Rutkowski regathered his thoughts though and would go on to win the losers’ final and seemed upbeat at the end of the day with a lot of positives to take away from today.
Things started perfectly today for Julien Quentel (Patrik / Gun Sails) with the 33-year-old leading from start to finish in the opening winners’ final to claim a decisive victory. However, Quentel then suffered the misfortune of his own in the quarterfinal of the next race. The man from Saint Maarten was prominently placed in Heat 10 as they headed for the second buoy, but with Quentel right on the tail of then leader - Tristan Algret (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins) - there was nothing he could do to avoid crashing when Algret crashed entering the second gybe. That left Quentel with a quarterfinal exit and he dropped from 1st to 11th on completion on the second elimination. The good news for him is that there is still plenty of racing to come.
The top 16 is currently completed by Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic), the Brit finished 5th in the opening elimination before looking like hooking in on the first gybe in the next quarterfinal and despite a quick recovery he couldn’t quite make the top 4. Taty Frans (Future Fly / Point-7) - 13th - Mateus Isaac (JP / NeilPryde) - 14th - Pascal Toselli (JP / Loftsails / Chopper Fins) - 15th - and Andrea Ferin (I-99 / Challenger Sails / AL360).
Elsewhere, John Skye (RRD / RRD Sails) did well to make the top 16 in the second elimination, while Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins) and Arnon Dagan (Future Fly / NeilPryde) came from the first round of Elimination 2 to make the top 16.
Current world No.5 - Ethan Westera (Tabou / GA Sails) had a bit of a day to forget with the 21-year-old failing to progress through a heat and he will just now need to reset and start tomorrow with a fresh head with plenty of time to still recover.
Unfortunately for Sebastian Kördel (Starboard / GA Sails), it looks as though the German’s contest may be over before it even began with the 28-year-old suffering a nasty foot injury when trying to re-arrange someone else’s flying gear on the beach and in doing so kicked a fin - requiring 8 or 9 stitches. Everyone from the PWA would like to wish Sebastian a quick a successful recovery.
The forecast looks slightly windier for Friday and given the fact that many of the sailors were already on their smallest equipment today at times, tomorrow could prove to be a real handful, which should provide plenty of exhilarating racing. The sailors will meet again at 10am (GMT+1) tomorrow morning with the action commencing from 11am onwards!
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Current Ranking 2019 Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam - Men’s Slalom
*After Two Eliminations
1st Matteo Iachino (ITA - Starboard / Severne / Shamal Sunglasses)
2nd Pierre Mortefon (FRA - Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins)
3rd Antoine Albeau (FRA - JP / NeilPryde)
4th Cedric Bordes (FRA - Tabou / GA Sails)
5th Finian Maynard (KV - FMX Racing)
6th Antoine Questel (FRA - I-99 / S2Maui)
7th Cyril Moussilmani (FRA - RRD / RRD Sails)
8th Jordy Vonk (NED - Fanatic / Duotone)
9th Sebastian Kornum (DEN - JP / NeilPryde)
10th Maciek Rutkowski (POL - FMX Racing / Challenger Sails)