Fuerteventura PWA World Cup
Day 3 of the 2019 Fuerteventura PWA World Cup proved to be the best day yet with 3 winners’ finals being completed over the course of a fantastic day of racing. During the conclusion of Elimination 4 most sailors were on 7.0s, but with the wind continuing to increase during the afternoon the majority of the fleet were on 6.2s-6.4s for the remainder of the day. Fuerte continued to produce a thorough test of the sailors mettle today with the underlying swell and narrowly spaced chop claiming plenty of victims along the way, as well as producing the kind of close-quarters racing that you can’t take your eyes off. And even when there were heats that were seemingly as good as over, the last buoy provided more than its fair share of surprises thanks to its treacherous water conditions.
Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins) leapfrogs both Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Severne / Shamal Sunglasses) and Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde) into the current No.1 spot after enjoying a superb day, which saw the Frenchman record back-to-back bullets and a third place from the 3 eliminations completed today. Mortefon claimed a clearcut bullet in the opening elimination of the day and then produced a moment of magic at the second gybe of Elimination 5 to dive inside Iachino, before completing a feat which not many sailors manage - especially in Fuerteventura - by overtaking Albeau on the exit to claim a superb victory, which took Mortefon to the top of the event rankings.
However, after Albeau secured his first, and the final bullet of the day, in what some are dubbing one of the greatest racing finals in history there is just 0.3 of a point separating Albeau and Mortefon, while Iachino is now 5 points off the lead, but the Italian stands to reduce that deficit upon completion of the Elimination 7 with the second discard coming into play. The big top 3 have pulled well clear of the rest of the fleet and the next two days of racing should see a thrilling 3-horse race for the event title unfold!
The final of Elimination 6 saw two of the titans of Slalom - Iachino and Albeau - go head-to-head in an absolutely epic encounter with either sailor refusing to give an inch in a colossal tussle. You can read their recounts of the final below:
Antoine Albeau: “I'd have to say that that maybe the best final I did in my life but it was a big big fight with Matteo [Iachino]. I was a little bit faster on the first reach so I took the lead but I don't know he had some better gybes, so he was coming back at me. I think I was trying to protect the first place too much you know, trying to put him in my wake and stuff instead of just going for it. And then at the last gybe again he had the better swell than me and I think he was even leading at one point but I knew that I'm going faster on that reach so I came back and then I think he had a little spin out or something and he went straight into my back and then he fell that was it, but it was just amazing you know!
I was totally focused on Matteo and at the end when I cross the finish line I was looking back at all the pack and they were so far behind it was like crazy you know - it's like we push so, so, so much that we were just flying at the front. The conditions were super hard because there’s a little swell plus the chop is super narrow between the two peaks of the wave. And it’s just very radical. We are all with 6.2-6.4m, so it's enough power just to fly easily over 30 knots and then you can you can have a problem, you know?
We will see at the end who wins. All three of us are there fighting for the first place. And yeah, the one who's gonna make a mistake is gonna have problems! It’s exciting it’s been a long time since 3 people were fighting for the event title.Super happy to finally get a 0.7.”
Matteo Iachino: “I nailed the start and then we came together at the first gybe and I knew on both of the way outs I had a chance to get a better line and at the last gybe I actually got a better line finally because I pushed him down, while I could go wider and dive inside. Then we were on the same swell, but I was above him so I thought ah okay now I can go down and kill him off you know. But then a gust hit is and that delayed me from doing that. Then we were side-by-side fighting and I just decided to go all in, so I just sheeted in and went full power. As soon as we were level, and I wasn’t in front anymore, he pointed me up a bit more and the nose got loaded from the sail because I pointed too, but I couldn’t hold it anymore and I catapulted.
It never crossed my mind to settle for second. I wanted to win. I love these conditions. It’s fun to race in it. I wait for the whole season to race in these conditions, so **** that! It was fun out there and there’s still a long way to go I think.”
While there is still very little separating the big top 3 there is undoubtedly a bit more pressure on Iachino now as Mortefon and Albeau are yet to finish outside the top 3. Iachino’s only blemish on his scorecard is a 9th from Elimination 5 after the Italian was eliminated in the semifinals after missing his boom on a rig flip after the opening gybe when leading the heat. The 29-year-old ended up finishing 6th in Elimination 6 but should be commended for his go for it attitude when many would have simply settled for second place.
Elsewhere, Julien Quentel (Patrik / Gun Sails) jumps two places into 4th after recording 3 top 10 finishes today - a second, a 9th and a 10th.
Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA Sails) may have expected to lose more places in the event rankings after a quarterfinal final exit in Elimination 4 was followed by a second round exit in the 5th after sailing in the wrong heat, which threatened to undo all of his handwork in the opening two days. However, luckily for the Frenchman none of the sailors around him were able to inflict much damage and a 7th place in Elimination 6 stands him in good stead heading into tomorrow with the potential to discard an 18.5 from Elimination 5.
After a quarterfinal exit in the opening race - Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / Duotone) - bounced back strongly by recording a 4th and an 11th place and with the way the other results went to day that sees the flying Dutchman climb to places into 6th, while Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Shamal Sunglasses) falls two places to 7th.
Maciek Rutkowski (FMX Racing / Challenger Sails) drops one place to 8th, but the Pole’s unlucky streak seems to continue. Rutkowski was prominently placed in the semifinal of Elimination 4 - only to be taken down by Iachino’s flying rig, despite trying to give the Italian plenty of room, while he was again hampered by Iachino when well placed in the semifinal of Elimination 6. - that led to Rutkowski diving down the inside of Pascal Toselli (JP / Loftsails / Chopper Fins) at the second buoy in a desperate attempt to regain a place in the top 4, but that ultimately cost he and Toselli a chance with both men going down. Overall though the 27-year-old does seem to have found a new level of mental strength and maturity and despite further setbacks recorded results of 12th, 11th and a 10th. With a bit more luck on his side Rutkowski could be much higher and he remains one to watch heading into the final two days.
Elsewhere, Antoine Questel (I-99 / S2Maui) regains his place in the top 10 - 9th - while Enrico Marotti (JP / NeilPryde) completes the top 10 and the end of day 3. The Croat recorded his best ever result in the opening elimination of the day - second - and is now well placed to battle for an overall top 10 come the end of the event.
Marotti doesn’t have much room for error though with Finian Maynard (FMX Racing) just a point behind in 11th, while Taty Frans (Future Fly / Point-7) and Alexandre Cousin (Patrik / Phantom Sails / Chopper Fins) are only a few points further back.
After qualifying for a first time in 4 years - Ethan Westera (Tabou / GA Sails) - will undoubtedly be slightly disappointed with how today unfolded. The 21-year-old suffered two quarterfinals exits, but a 12th place in Elimination 5 is still enough to lift him into 16th.
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Current Ranking 2019 Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam - Men’s Slalom
*After Six Eliminations
1st Pierre Mortefon (FRA - Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins)
2nd Antoine Albeau (FRA - JP / NeilPryde)
3rd Matteo Iachino (ITA - Starboard / Severne / Shamal Sunglasses)
4th Julien Quentel (SXM / Patrik / Gun Sails)
5th Cedric Bordes (FRA - Tabou / GA Sails)
6th Jordy Vonk (NED - Fanatic / Duotone)
7th Ross Williams (GBR - Tabou / GA Sails / Shamal Sunglasses)
8th Maciek Rutkowski (POL - FMX Racing / Challenger Sails)
9th Antoine Questel (FRA - I-99 / S2Maui)
10th Enrico Marotti (CRO - JP / NeilPryde)