Ulsan PWA World Cup
The penultimate day of the Ulsan PWA World Cup saw the racing officially begin, but today was anything but plain sailing with extremely gusty and shifty winds making racing a real battle, which lead to numerous cancellations throughout the day.
However, by the end of the day a result has been gained in the women’s fleet - with Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) making a flying start to clinch the opening bullet of the season. Meanwhile, the first men’s semifinal has been completed, but their result still hangs in the balance heading into the final day.
Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) made the perfect start to her title defence today as the Aruban gem claimed the first bullet of the season ahead of one her biggest rivals Lena Erdil (Starboard / Point-7 / AL360), who sailed solidly to secure second place.
Sarah-Quita Offringa had this to say on today’s racing: “It was a pretty tough couple of heats actually with tricky wind and water conditions. I was on my 7.0m and medium board and I was fully focused on hitting the start line at full speed - otherwise I was scared of getting covered by the rest of the fleet.
I was really nervous on the water even after the start because of the water conditions - it was super choppy and coming from every direction. It was a good race and I felt like I had a good start, but I thought that Lena [Erdil] was making ground on me. After the first gybe it looked like there was a lull, but I think with the clean wind I was able to get through it and then I could open a bit of a gap and take some of the pressure off as Lena got slightly stuck.”
Meanwhile, Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails), produced a superb gybe at the first to manoeuvre herself into third place to complete the top three ahead of Esther de Geus (JP / Point-7), who would go on to record her best result in an elimination so far by taking home 4th.
There was a major shock in the opening semifinal as former two-time world champion - Delphine Cousin Questel (Starboard / S2Maui) - missed out on the opening winners’ final of the year after suffering a snapped outhaul at the last mark, which caused her to crash her gybe and offer no possibility of staging a recovery when in the qualifying positions.
Elsewhere, Fujiko Onishi (Starboard / Point-7), who finished 4th overall last year, was disqualified from Heat 2 for a premature start, while Fulya Ünlü (Starboard / Point-7) and Mia Anayama (Starboard / MauiSails) both suffered the same fate. A dropped gybe from Cagla Kubat (Starboard / Point-7) in the same heat also allowed Oda Johanne (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) to snatch the final qualifying spot in the winners’ final - with the Norwegian then going on to record her best single result so far - 6th.
Sebastian Kördel (Starboard / GA Sails) became the first man to book his place in the opening winners’ final of the year with a superb performance in Heat 13 as the German led from start to finish to win the heat in impressive fashion.
However, behind Kördel there was a tremendous battle for the remaining three places in the top four between Pascal Toselli (99NoveNove / LoftSails / Chopper Fins), Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails / Chopper Fins), Taty Frans (Starboard / GA Sails / Mystic) and Maciek Rutkowski (Tabou / GA Sails). Mortefon managed to gain the upper hand to secure second place, while it looked as though Toselli would qualify with Frans, with the Frenchman having been in top four until the last mark. However, Rutkowski dug deep and never gave up hope of breaking into the top four and his tenacious attitude was rewarded as he pipped Toselli to the final place in the winners’ final.
All four sailors will now be praying that there is enough wind tomorrow to complete at least the other semifinal and the winners’ final - otherwise the result will not stand.
Marco Lang (Fanatic / NorthSails) had looked blisteringly quick all day and the Austrian will be gutted that the second semifinal was cancelled when he held a substantial lead when rounding the third - before the wind dropped as yet another cancellation was made. The second semifinal was also cancelled on more than one occasion.
Lang will now have to wait patiently with teammate Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / NorthSails), 23-time world champion Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde), Julien Quentel (Patrik / Avanti), Alexandre Cousin (Patrik / GA Sails / Chopper Fins), reigning world champion Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Point-7 / Shamal Windsurfing Sunglasses), Ben van der Steen (Patrik / Gun Sails) and Cyril Moussilmani (99NoveNove / Severne) for another chance to earn their place in the top 8.
The biggest casualty of the day was Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic) - 3rd overall in 2016 - who was eliminated in the quarterfinals and the Brit was less than impressed with the heat not being cancelled after pumping for an entire reach.
Elsewhere, Basile Jacquin (Starboard / Point-7), who is still only 18-years-old continued to catch the eye and his performance deservedly led to a spot in the semifinals and he’ll now take his place in the losers’ finals.
All hopes are now pinned on tomorrow, which is the final day. The forecast currently predicts offshore westerly winds of 12-24 knots in the morning, so there will be another early morning skippers’ meeting at 6am (GMT+9) with the action commencing from 6:30am (GMT+9) - if conditions allow. If the early morning doesn't provide suitable conditions then there is still a chance of the afternoon providing a sea breeze with southwesterly winds of 11-15 knots being forecast.
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Result Women's Elimination One - 2017 Ulsan PWA World Cup:
1st Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins)
2nd Lena Erdil (Starboard./ Point-7 / AL360)
3rd Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails)
4th Esther de Geus (JP / Point-7)
5th Maëlle Guilbaud (Patrik / LoftSails)
6th Oda Johanne (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins)
7th Yuki Sunaga (LoftSails)
8th Nimet Tulumen (KA Sail)
= 9th Ayako Suzuki JPN61 (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic)
= 9th Maria Shapkina (Starboard)