The 2007 Pegasus Airlines PWA World Cup, Alaçati – Day 4
The Pressure’s on for event leader Albeau after his race 9 blow-out in a day of mixed fortunes on the race course. A silver-bullet race win from Argentina’s Gonzalo Costa Hoevel denies any of the front-runners the chance to cement their podium positions. Third placed Bjorn Dunkerbeck sneaks-up even closer on runner-up Kevin Pritchard on the eve of the final day’s racing. Valerie Ghibaudo’s shock domination continues as she takes both the day’s race wins ahead of runner-up Karin Jaggi and third placed Verena Fauster.
Lighter winds than on previous days slowed progress and delayed the start of the single men’s race and two women’s races that were completed.
Men’s Race 9
With breeze fluctuating between 11-19 knots a short, 5-leg course was set with longer final reach.
Anxiety blew in with the hot air amongst the top names as the tricky conditions melted even the coolest contender’s intentions.
Local rider Bora Kozanoglu (Starboard / NeilPryde), red-hot speedster Ben Van Der Steen (Exocet / Naish), and last season’s champion Finian Maynard (F2 / NeilPryde) were all disqualified for premature starts during the semi-final stages – as was event leader and reigning champ Antoine Albeau (Starboard / NeilPryde).
With a couple of exceptions, the final was filled with light-wind specialists who’d prevailed in the qualifying stages and kept clear of trouble in the patchier sections of the course.
Amongst them where 2007 slalom debutant Julien Quentel (Starboard / NeilPryde), Steve Allen (Tabou / Gaastra) and total race specialist (Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (F2 / NeilPryde).
Costa Hoevel had a dream start to the final. With most of the fleet slamming on the brakes in the final seconds of the countdown, Costa Hoevel, positioned a little further upwind than the rest, nailed the line bang on the gun, and crossed the pack on a downwind line at full-tilt to build his lead over the first reach.
The Argentinean was chased hard by Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde) and Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / MauiSails) over the first two legs. Exiting the second mark Pritchard went for the radical approach of a hard downwind line in the hope of finding space and clear air to reel Costa Hoevel and Buzianis in, whilst above him Bjorn Dunkerbeck (T1 / North) was motoring on the direct track to round mark 4 before the American.
Costa Hoevel extended his lead ahead in open air and water whilst Dunkerbeck focused his efforts on trying to catch Buzianis. However it wasn’t to be Dunkerbeck’s day, and the fabled racer had to settle for third as Buzianis took no prisoners in following race winner Costa Hoevel over the line for second.
Women’s Race 12
It was a refreshing change to see Marta Hlavaty head the fleet off the start line of race 12. The Polish entrant showed an amazing turn of speed along the first reach above Karin Jaggi (F2 / North) and event leader Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou).
However, Ghibaudo and Jaggi’s lower, direct line paid off and allowed them to round the critical first gybe ahead of Hlavaty.
Ghibaudo extended her lead after solid gybing skills guaranteed her the victory ahead of Jaggi. Verena Fauster (F2 / Gaastra) pushed Hlavaty hard for third but the Polish Olympic class racer kept her head to finish-up third.
Women’s Race 13
Race 13 was unlucky for everyone except Ghibaudo. This event and Ghibaudo’s renewed hunger for victory in Fuerteventura has shocked everyone on the racing scene. Jaggi is no slouch and the super-competitive Swiss entrant has become a true victim to Ghibaudo’s severe speed and re-invigorated approach to racing.
An inch-perfect start at full speed on the fastest route to the mark assured the Frenchwomen of her 9th race win at this contest. It would be inaccurate to say that the event leader was anything other than untouchable over the entire course. Jaggi was certainly fast in second, with Fauster hot on her heels but the race was won by Ghibaudo and lost by the rest in the run-up to the start line.
Sadly the wind softened after this race and the committee decide to cancel any further competition for the day.
Tomorrow is the final day’s racing here and there certainly are scores to be settled. Albeau and Ghibaudo are sitting pretty for a pair of event titles to make their country proud, whilst Dunkerbeck is perfectly poised to attack Kevin Pritchard for second overall.
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Men’s Top 10 after 9 Races
1. Antoine Albeau (Starboard / NeilPryde)
2. Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / MauiSails)
3. Bjorn Dunkerbeck (T1 / North)
4. Pieter Bijl (Fanatic / NeilPryde)
5. Finian Maynard (F2 / NeilPryde)
6. Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde)
7. Peter Volwater (F2 / North)
8. Cyril Moussilmani (Fanatic / North)
9. Steve Allen (Tabou / Gaastra)
10. Ben Van Der Steen (Exocet / Naish)
Women’s Top 5 after 13 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