Airwaves Noumea Dream Cup
The reliable trade winds that New Caledonia are known for didn’t disappoint on the opening day of the 2017 Airwaves Noumea Dream Cup, so once registration was out of the way it was straight into the thick of the action with 20-25 knots of breeze on offer. By the close of play on day 1 the opening elimination for the men’s and women’s fleets has been completed and the title races remain very much still open after Delphine Cousin Questel (Starboard / S2Maui) and Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Point-7 / Shamal Sunglasses) claimed respective victories to keep current world tour leaders Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) and Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) on their toes.
Delphine Cousin Questel snatched a remarkable victory in the opening elimination to deny 17-year-old local girl Lilou Granier a famous first victory on the world tour. Granier safely rounded the last mark after leading from start to finish and looked to be on course to record a memorable first ever bullet in front of her home crowd only for Cousin Questel to fly down the final reach and clinch a thrilling win in a photo finish. Cousin Questel in the only girl still standing that can deny Sarah-Quita Offringa and her gritty performance here shows she’s more than up for the challenge and is ready to lay down the gauntlet to her rival.
Granier may have been disappointed to be denied her first bullet, but after only making her debut at this event two years ago she showed the sort of fearless attitude that comes with youth and clearly wasn’t intimidated in the slightest by going up against her peers and it will be intriguing to see if she is able to sustain that level of performance. If she can sail anywhere near as well as she did today, then she is a serious contender for the podium.
The battle for 3rd and 4th place saw another extremely tight finish and Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails) was clearly disappointed to just miss out on 3rd to Japan’s Yuki Sunaga (Loft Sails) - particularly as her main podium rivals Maëlle Guilbaud (Patrik / Loft Sails) and Lena Erdil (Starboard / Point-7 / AL360) could only muster 5th and 7th place finishes respectively.
In terms of the title race things remain wide open, for the time being at least, with Sarah-Quita Offringa unable to recover from a rare poor start, which left her having to settle for 5th place in the opening race, but at least 4 eliminations must be completed to give Cousin Questel any chance and then Offringa must finish outside of the top 3 and you would expect her to raise her performance over the coming days, but from a neutrals perspective it keeps things interesting heading into day two.
Reigning World Champion - Matteo iachino - came into the final event of the year as Antoine Albeau’s main rival and that’s certainly how things remain at the close of play on the first day with the Italian doing everything in his power to reduce the deficit by leading from start to finish to claim the opening bullet of the week.
However, the clear advantage remains with Albeau who produced a solid performance to secure 4th place, which keeps him well ahead of the 8th or better finish he requires to be crowned the world champion. It is however early days and Iachino has shown he’s ready to pounce on any mistakes should the opportunity arise.
Marco Lang (Fanatic / NorthSails) came into the final event of the year off the back of his first ever victory on the world tour in Sylt and it was almost like the Austrian hadn’t been away from the race course as he started the week off with an excellent second place - meaning his results from his last 3 eliminations read 1st, 1st, 2nd and you’d have to say he looks ready for another deep run in the competition!
Meanwhile, teammate Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails / Chopper Fins) showed a blistering turn of speed on the second reach in the final to fly into 3rd place and the Frenchman was then able to hold off able to open with a 3rd and with Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic / Shamal Sunglasses) down in 7th place the race is certainly on for the prestigious overall podium.
Sebastian Kördel (Starboard / GA Sails) who started the season so positively before seemingly losing his form slightly bounced back to life today to book his place in the winners’ final before securing 5th place, one ahead of Pascal Toselli (99NoveNove / Loft Sails / Chopper Fins) in 6th, while Amado Vrieswijk (JP / Severne) navigated his way into another final - although Argentina’s Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins) wasn’t too happy with the Bonairean after a coming together at the final mark in Heat 14.
Elsewhere, Malte Reuscher (JP / NeilPryde) made a solid start to the week by securing 9th place in the opening elimination after winning Heat 15 ahead of Costa Hoevel and Antoine Questel (Starboard / S2Maui).
The opening elimination wasn’t without it’s upsets though with current world No.5 Julien Quentel (Patrik / Avanti), world No.9 and 10 Arnon Dagan (RRD / NeilPryde) and Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / NorthSails) and world No.13 Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA Sails) all eliminated in the quarterfinals - while 2014 event champion Ben van der Steen (Patrik / Gun Sails) also suffered the same fate.
The opening two rounds of the second elimination were also completed - with no major upsets - before the official opening ceremony was held during the early evening at the Chateaux Royal Beach Resort.
The sailors will meet again tomorrow morning at 10am with the action commencing from 10:30am (GMT+2) onwards. On WindGuru the forecast looks quite similar to today although the wind is expected to be more easterly, so we will have to wait and see what happens.
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Current Ranking 2017 Airwaves Noumea Dream Cup - Women’s Slalom
*After One Elimination
1st Delphine Cousin Questel (Starboard / S2Maui)
2nd Lilou Granier
3rd Yuki Sunaga (LoftSails)
4th Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails)
5th Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins)
Current Ranking 2017 Airwaves Noumea Dream Cup - Men’s Slalom
*After One Elimination
1st Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Point-7 / Shamal Sunglasses)
2nd Marco Lang (Fanatic / NorthSails)
3rd Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails / Chopper Fins)
4th Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde)
5th Sebastian Koerdel (Starboard / GA Sails)
6th Pascal Toselli (99NoveNove / LoftSails / Chopper Fins)
7th Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic / Shamal Sunglasses)
8th Amado Vrieswijk (JP / Severne)
9th Malte Reuscher (JP / NeilPryde)
10th Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins)