The 2007 Pegasus Airlines PWA World Cup, Alaçati – Day 1
Pieter Bijl stays cool to claim the lead after 3 red-hot slalom races. Kevin Pritchard survives gear failure to bag second and Bjorn Dunkerbeck’s consistency helps him cling onto third ahead of a massive fleet of racing talent. Valerie Ghibaudo stamps her authority to take pole position after 4 exciting women’s races. Karin Jaggi falters early and has to settle for second and Verena Fauster at last finds form to secure third overall.
Alaçati lived up to its promises of serving-up some tasty slalom racing conditions right from the starting gun on day one. 2 men’s races were completed using the traditional elimination format before a third race; with larger qualifying heats was run in stronger winds late in the afternoon.
Men’s Race 1
Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde) failed to make the first semi-final in his second-round qualifying heat. He was pipped to the post by local legend Bora Kozanoglu (Starboard / NeilPryde) who, despite a wrist injury sailed out of his skin today to please the excitable Turkish crowds.
Kozanoglu’s good form continued in the semi-finals when he qualified second to join some prestigious company in the final, ahead of many top names, who had to settle for the loser’s final instead.
The Final: Antoine Albeau (Starboard / NeilPryde) led off the start line and along the first reach ahead of Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / MauiSails) and Pieter Bijl (Fanatic / NeilPryde). Pritchard tried unsuccessfully to gybe inside Albeau at the first mark and from there the Frenchman, who’s already sealed the 2007 title, held his own and sailed undisturbed to the finish line followed by Pritchard and Bijl.
Men’s Race 2
The big absence from the semi-finals in race 2 was Antoine Albeau. He got caught in traffic in his second round heat and finished in last position.
All the regular names progressed through the rest of the first two rounds to deny many new players a shot at glory.
The Final: The need to start well took its toll on some super-charged finalists who crossed the line too early to earn disqualifications and cause a re-sail. Denis Littel (F2 / MauiSails), Micah Buzianis and Patrik Diethelm (F2 / North) were the guilty ones who were sent back to the beach leaving a 5-man final after the re-start.
Peter Volwater (F2 / North) showed some amazing speed to lead along the first reach, ahead of Bjorn Dunkerbeck and Kevin Pritchard. At the second mark Pritchard went for the inside line as Volwater kept it steady around the safer, wider line. But Pritchard couldn’t quite slip inside the Dutchman and he also failed to sneak past with the same method at mark three. Meanwhile Pieter Bijl had put the pedal to the metal to overtake Dunkerbeck for a chance to challenge the frontrunners.
Volwater looked certain of victory until Pritchard bore down on him relentlessly from upwind to masterfully control the energetic and experienced racers route to the finish.
In the dying moments Pritchard shot over the line to take the win as Volwater was forced to head upwind hard around the finish mark to register second. Bijl’s lead over Dunkerbeck earned him a useful third and pushed him into second overall at that stage.
Men’s Race 3
As the wind had increased to around 25 knots the race director decided to change the elimination format to have just 4 qualifying heats of 16-men and two 12-man semi-finals.
The nerves took their toll again on the second semi-finalists with no less than four ‘Over-Earlies’
The final was probably the most exciting of the day. Maynard screeched off the start line and into the lead and rounded the first mark ahead of Kevin Pritchard and Pieter Bijl who’d also favoured the pin-end, downwind line.
Maynard kept in front until the second mark where he fell during a collision with Bijl. Pritchard also fell victim there, his mast snapping in two as he fell trying to skirt around the crash scene.
This allowed Albeau the lead and Dunkerbeck the runner’s up spot ahead of North team-mate Volwater.
On the last reach Albeau kept the favourable upwind track and power over anyone below him, as Dunkerbeck opted for the shorter downwind line. But once again Volwater’s amazing board speed suddenly came into play in the final few yards to and secure him second place, and subsequently relegate Dunkerbeck to third. Bijl played it safe to finish fourth and consequently take the event lead and hold pole-position overnight.
‘It’s a great start for me in a great place with great racing’ grinned NeilPryde’s chief tester as the results were posted on the notice board. ‘Alacati’s just perfect for slalom and I hope we have more wind like this and loads more racing to come’
4 great women’s races were held this afternoon, which is the maximum permitted per day
Women’s Race 1
Olympic class specialist Marta Hlavaty shocked the ladies fleet by confidently out-pacing reigning world champ Karin Jaggi (F2 / North) who’d led off the start line over the first reach.
Hlavaty outpaced her with a downwind line to round the first mark in the lead. From there the Polish racer resisted pressure until the third mark where she fell to allow Jaggi to regain the lead and win and the ever-present Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou) to cruise into second.
Turkish TV star, model, and former Turkish windsurfing champion Cagla Kubat (Starboard / North) earned rapturous applause from the beach for scoring third.
Women’s Race 2
The second race handed Kubat a valuable opportunity to take the event lead after both Jaggi and Ghibaudo were disqualified for premature starts. At the re-start however it was Verena Fauster (F2 / Gaastra) who seized the initiative. She led until the fourth mark regardless of relentless challenges from Hlavaty for the inside line at the first three gybes. Hlavaty was also being seriously threatened by Bulgarian entrant Pepa Mavrodieva (Starboard).
Kubat failed to capitalize on Jaggi and Ghibaudo’s absence as she struggled to register 5th place. Hlavaty kept Fauster at bay to win, and Mavrodieva rolled home in third.
Women’s Race 3
Ghibaudo’s stubbornness and refusal to allow Jaggi all the limelight continued in race 3. She led from the start and extended that lead over the second reach as Jaggi pulled away from a skirmish with Fauster after the first gybe. Jaggi turned her focus on Fauster but despite good board-speed couldn’t match the Frenchwomen who played each mark safe with wide error-free gybing earning her the victory ahead of Switzerland’s multiple world champion.
Meanwhile the battle for third and fourth place was hotting-up. Cagla Kubat was trying to force Fauster into mistakes and that effort paid off as she gybed aggressively at the final buoy and used her significant pace to overtake Fauster on the final reach for third.
Women’s Race 4
Ghibaudo drove her advantage home in the final race of the day. She timed another perfect start to build a sizeable lead along the first reach. The pressure must have got to Jaggi as she fell at the second mark whilst Fauster ghosted into second position.
Jaggi however stood up, dusted her self off, gritted her teeth and tried to cut inside the Italian at the third turn. Eventually pure speed won her the chance to overtake on the fourth reach as Ghibaudo crossed the line to win and take home the vital first day’s bragging rights. Jaggi finished second ahead of Fauster in third.
The forecast tomorrow is for more of the same excellent conditions. Skipper’s meeting is at 11.00 for a first possible start of 11.30
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© PWA / Brian McDowell