The 2007 Pegasus Airlines PWA World Cup, Alaçati – Day 3
Event leader and World Champ Antoine Albeau steers a steady course through two races to consolidate his lead. Second-placed Kevin Pritchard narrows the gap with a critical race 7 victory to fend-off Bjorn Dunkerbeck who’s ice-cool in third. Last years Turkey champion Finian Maynard slides into fourth with a vital 8th race win.
Alaçati’s relentless wind machine just doesn’t seem to cease producing faultless slalom racing conditions for both the world’s best racers and local crowds to enjoy.
Men’s Race 7
With wind between 14 and 20 knots a short-legged 5-reach course was laid.
For some racers the return to the 8-man qualifying heats from the previous day’s quarter-fleet starts were a welcome break, as they enjoyed clearer air and less traffic at the marks.
There were some good performances from the host nation riders today, with Turkish national Champion Huseyin Sert (F2 / North) and Enes Yilmazer both making the semi-finals.
Strong racing in the semi-finals from Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (F2 / NeilPryde) and Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde) was wasted as both racers crossed the start line early in the final resulting in disqualification. That left a clear-cut 6-man line-up for the final.
With the seventh race marking the second and final race discard, Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / MauiSails) produced a crucial race win to put as much pressure as possible on reigning world champ Antoine Albeau’s lead.
Old-hand Pritchard survived immense pressure from the title holder, and Arnon Dagan (Fanatic / NeilPryde) all the way around the short course. Dagan’s straight-line speed in the flat water was superior on this occasion to Albeau’s and Tel Aviv’s fastest man screeched home in second ahead of the French team-mate.
Bjorn Dunkerbeck (T1 / North) and Finian Maynard (F2 / NeilPryde) had the closest of finishes for fourth and fifth, but Maynard, no stranger to a speed run, squeaked through by a less than half a board length.
Men’s Race 8
Similar wind of around 14-19 knots was present for the 8th race.
This time a 7-gybe, long-legged layout was chosen, with the penultimate gybe really near the crowds on the beach.
The second semi-final produced a master class of racing guile and technique from Bjorn Dunkerbeck. Using just about every trick in the book, his superior range of turning skills and outright force allowed him to recover from a slow start to tee-up Pritchard as his final victim for the last slot in the final. This was especially poignant considering his third overall placing – just one position behind the American.
It wasn’t as if Pritchard had made any errors either, but Switzerland’s newest racing representative eventually made use of raw speed to squeeze past his prey, and relegate Pritchard to the loser’s final.
That loser’s final was won by Patrik Diethelm (F2 / North) with Pritchard claiming second ahead of Pieter Bijl (Fanatic / NeilPryde)
In the final Maynard just wasn't in the mood to be pushed around. He’d come to Turkey with a fine history of event wins here, and was determined to make today count after a less than ideal campaign so far.
He led by a narrow margin from Peter Volwater (F2 / North) on the first reach, and rounded the first gybe in the lead. Volwater fell at that gybe to hand Buzianis second and Dunkerbeck third.
Maynard hung on to record the race win ahead of Buzianis, but Albeau, clearly not content with fourth position had other ideas. He boldly overtook Dunkerbeck approaching the penultimate gybe to steal third place.
Women’s Race 9
Once again Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou) showed-off the much-improved starting skills she’s displayed at this event before holding-off Karin Jaggi (F2 / North) all the way around the track.
But, the real battle was for third place between Marta Hlavaty and Cagla Kubat (Starboard / North). A skilful and cunning gybe by Turkish media icon Kubat at the second mark allowed her to slip past the Polish girl to earn the valuable third place points.
Women’s Race 10
The 10th race start was much closer with all 13 women slowing together and accelerating up to speed quite late. Ghibaudo typically nailed the line on the sound signal and led along the first reach on a low downwind line chased by Jaggi who remained high after a boat-end start.
The two front-runners predictably had their own race after putting great distance between themselves and the rest of the fleet after exiting the first gybe at top pace.
There was a little hustling at the first mark when third placed Marta Hlavaty fell along with Kubat to allow Femke van der Valk and Verena Fauster (F2 / Gaastra) to overtake.
Up ahead Jaggi persisted in trying an inside line on Ghibaudo who kept wide and safe through all the turns to guarantee her the race win. Jaggi had to settle for second and Fauster outperformed the rest and tried unsuccessfully to catch Jaggi before scoring third.
Women’s Race 11
Ghibaudo’s momentum built further with another great start and race win. She kept well ahead of Jaggi who was never going to catch her. But the most impressive start came from young Lena Erdil (JP / NeilPryde) whose timely departure allowed her to threaten over the first couple of reaches in third place, before falling at the third mark to the benefit of Femke van der Valk.
But on the last reach Verena Fauster and Cagla Kubat, who’d been caught behind in traffic, fought back and overtook Van der Valk for the essential third and fourth place finishes respectively.
Like a dream come true, and in line with this stupendous season, the forecast promises even more wind tomorrow and the remaining days of the contest.
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Men’s Top 10 after 8 Races
1. Antoine Albeau (Starboard / NeilPryde)
2. Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / MauiSails)
3. Bjorn Dunkerbeck (T1 / North)
4. Finian Maynard (F2 / NeilPryde)
5. Peter Volwater (F2 / North)
6. Pieter Bijl (Fanatic / NeilPryde)
7. Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde)
8. Ben Van Der Steen (Exocet / Naish)
9. Cyril Moussilmani (Fanatic / North)
10. Patrik Diethelm (F2 / North)
Women’s Top 5 after 11 Races
1. Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou)
2. Karin Jaggi (F2 / North)
3. Verena Fauster (F2 / Gaastra)
4. Cagla Kubat (Starboard / North)
5. Marta Hlavaty
© PWA / Brian McDowell