Airwaves Noumea Dream Cup
Anse Vata Beach served up another intense dose of racing on day two of the 2017 Airwaves Noumea Dream Cup with the wind blowing 20-30 knots for almost the entire day, which allowed a further 3 eliminations to be completed in superb slalom conditions. At the close of play the same man and woman head up the event rankings as overnight - Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Point-7 / Shamal Sunglasses) and Delphine Cousin Questel (Starboard / S2Maui) - and despite their best efforts they remain powerless to prevent Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) and Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) from claiming the 2017 Men’s and Women’s PWA Slalom World Championships with both Albeau and Offringa reducing the deficit to rise into second place in the event rankings, while solidifying their title credentials.
After a slightly slow start yesterday the current world tour leader - Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) - responded in the perfect fashion by bouncing back superbly and winning the first race of the day. However, it still wasn’t all plain sailing as a slow start in Elimination 3 almost cost her dearly, but she did well to battle back into 3rd place over the remainder of the course.
In the very next race Offringa survived another scare after dropping her second gybe in the semifinals, but she managed to recover before going on to secure her second bullet of the day in Elimination 4 - which reduces current event leader Delphine Cousin Questel’s (Starboard / S2Maui) lead to just 1 point, while putting her firmly back in control of the title race as she now holds a comfortable 5.6 point advantage over Lilou Granier in 4th place - when she only requires a top 3 finish to secure the title.
Delphine Cousin Questel still heads the top of the rankings at the close of play on day two after another excellent performance today which saw the former two-time world champion record 2 seconds and a first from the 3 races completed.
Lena Erdil (Starboard / Point-7 / AL360), who came into the event, second in the overall rankings, suffered a disappointing opening day after finishing 7th, but she rediscovered the sort of form we have come to expect from her in recent years by bouncing back with a 2nd and two 3rd places, which sees her rise 4 spots from the overnight rankings into 3rd place - keeping her on course for the overall podium.
Elsewhere, Lilou Granier, who came so close to winning the opening elimination yesterday suffered a disastrous start to the day as she was disqualified in the semifinals for a premature start. However, after that, the 17-year-old recovered well with two 4th places, which sees her sitting in 4th place at the close of play - 4 points ahead of Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails) in 5th.
The event lead swung hands on a couple of occasions today in the men’s division with reigning world champion Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Point-7 / Shamal Sunglasses) continuing to go head-to-head with Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde).
In the opening race of the day, Iachino struck again to maintain his perfect start to the event, but then a 6th place in Elimination 3 combined with Albeau winning his first race of the week saw AA move to the top of the event rankings, while also assuming complete control of the title race. However, Iachino finishes the day with a 1.7 point advantage over Albeau at the top of the rankings with the discard coming in to play.
In terms of the title race though Albeau is in command as he now holds a 16.5 point advantage over Arnon Dagan (RRD / NeilPryde) in 8th place and Albeau only needs to finish 8th or better in order to guarantee himself an incredible 24th world title.
For Dagan, the first two races were a bit of a disaster, but he has since recovered superbly with a 4th place and a bullet to bring himself back into contention to maintain his hopes of finishing the season in the overall top 10.
While the title race may look to be all but over the race for the remaining place on the prestigious overall podium is firmly on with the momentum swinging in Pierre Mortefon’s (Fanatic / NorthSails / Chopper Fins) favour. The Frenchman came into the event in 4th place, but if things were to finish as they currently stand, then Mortefon would overtake Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic / Shamal Sunglasses) in the fight for 3rd place. Mortefon currently occupies 3rd place in the event rankings after discarding an 11th place from Elimination 2 before recording two solid results - 2nd and a 5th - while Williams, by his standards, had a bit of a day to forget. The Brit started the day with a decent 5th before suffering a quarterfinal exit in Elimination 3 soon followed by missing the winners’ final in Elimination 4, which leaves him in 9th place in the current event rankings.
Williams hasn’t finished lower than 9th all season and came into the final event of the year on the back of 3 consecutive podiums, so while you certainly wouldn’t bet against him recovering from this small blip you also feel that he can’t really afford anymore slip-ups with Mortefon applying the pressure.
Elsewhere, Sebastian Kördel (Starboard / GA Sails) rises one place to 4th after another excellent day - apart from a small blemish in Elimination 3. However, the German then hit back with his best result to date in a single race - 2nd - and will look to continue to build over the remainder of the event.
Marco Lang (Fanatic / NorthSails), who started the day in 2nd place, falls 3 places to 5th, but that is not entirely his own fault. The Austrian finished 13th in the second race before responding in Elimination 3 with a terrific third and looked to b going well in Elimination 4 only for a snapped harness bar forcing him to withdraw from the semifinals, which was obviously hugely frustrating and disappointing for the Austrian.
Cyril Moussilmani (99NoveNove / Severne) is one of the biggest movers of the day after a consistent set of performances - 3rd, 10th and a 7th - sees the Frenchman rise 8 places to 6th, while fellow countryman Pascal Toselli (99NoveNove / LoftSails / Chopper Fins) falls one place to 7th.
The top 10 is currently completed by Malte Reuscher (JP / NeilPryde), who has been extremely consistent with two 9th places and a 12th and the German looked to be on course for another top 16 finish in Elimination 3 until Maciek Rutkowski (Tabou / GA Sails) gybed into him at the final mark - when both sailors were in the qualifying positions - resulting in Reuscher falling. The 27-year-old lodged an official protest against Rutkowski for dangerous sailing, but those appeals turned out to be in vain.
After a pulsating day of racing, the sailors were released shortly before 5pm and they will meet again tomorrow morning at the following times:
Foil Fleet - Skippers’ Meeting 9:30am - first possible start 10am (GMT+11)
Slalom Fleets - Skippers’ Meeting 10am - first possible start 10:30am (GMT+11).
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Current Ranking 2017 Airwaves Noumea Dream Cup - Women’s Slalom
*After 4 Eliminations
1st Delphine Cousin Questel (Starboard / S2Maui)
2nd Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins)
3rd Lena Erdil (Starboard / Point-7 / AL360)
4th Lilou Granier
5th Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails)
Current Ranking 2017 Airwaves Noumea Dream Cup - Men’s Slalom
*After 4 Eliminations
1st Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Point-7 / Shamal Sunglasses)
2nd Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde)
3rd Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails / Chopper Fins)
4th Sebastian Koerdel (Starboard / GA Sails)
5th Marco Lang (Fanatic / NorthSails)
6th Cyril Moussilmani (99NoveNove / Severne)
7th Pascal Toselli (99NoveNove / LoftSails / Chopper Fins)
8th Arnon Dagan (RRD / NeilPryde)
9th Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic / Shamal Sunglasses)
10th Malte Reuscher (JP / NeilPryde)