Airwaves Noumea Dream Cup
The action continued on the penultimate day of the Airwaves Noumea Dream Cup with two further foil races, two women’s slalom eliminations and one more men’s slalom completed, but conditions were anything but easy with the cross to cross offshore winds making the winds extremely gusty in the range of 10-20 knots.
Delphine Cousin Questel (Starboard / S2Maui) continued to dominate the women’s slalom on day five after winning both the eliminations completed today in emphatic style, which means the former 2-time world champion has won the last 3 races and looks set to continue her winning ways in New Caledonia having claimed victories here in 2014 and ’15.
However, while on course to end the season on a high, it appears there is now nothing she can do to prevent - Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) - becoming the 2017 Women’s PWA Slalom World Champion. Offringa sailed solidly again to secure two, second places and she now holds a 13.9 point advantage over Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails) in third and with just one more day to go it is virtually impossible to see that changing.
Lena Erdil (Starboard / Point-7 / AL360) started the day in third looking to defend her place on both the event and overall podium, but sadly, despite trying to bravely sail through the pain, it looks as though she may miss out on both, with the foot injury she sustained on day three badly impairing her performance.
Marion Mortefon, Erdil’s nemesis, trailed the Turk by 4 points at the start of proceedings, but after recording 3rd and 4th place finishes today the French girl has leapfrogged Erdil into 3rd place in the event rankings, while opening a 2 point advantage. If things were to finish as they were now then Mortefon would clinch the final place on the prestigious overall podium with 3000 points to Erdil’s 2990 points, which would be a bitter blow for Erdil, who has not finished outside of the top 3 since 2014.
Local girl - Lilou Granier - did briefly occupy 3rd place in the event rankings after a 4th place in the first race of the day, but the 17-year-old then missed out on the winners’ final, so she currently sits in 5th place.
For the first time this week - Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) - missed out on the winners’ final, but that was through no fault of his own after AA became the second person this week, after Marco Lang (Fanatic / NorthSails), to snap a harness bar in the semifinals, which left him with no chance of qualifying. While obviously disappointing, Albeau, still holds onto the event lead by 1 point over Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Point-7 / Shamal Sunglasses), who needed a 3rd place finish or better in the winners’ final to regain the top spot, but the Italian could ‘only’ manage a 5th.
While the battle for the title is all but over with Albeau holding a 27.6 point advantage over Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic / Shamal Sunglasses) in 8th place (Albeau only requires top 8 finish to win) - the final day still promises to provide a thrilling finale to the season with Albeau, Iachino and Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails / Chopper Fins) all fighting for the final event victory of 2017. Mortefon is now just 1.6 points behind Albeau after another excellent day which saw the Frenchman record a 2nd and 3rd place today.
Mortefon is also now firmly in pole position for the remaining place on the overall podium as he holds a 13 point advantage over teammate Marco Lang in 4th, so it is difficult to see Mortefon slipping down the rankings, which means that Ross Williams will now need to find a way from climbing from 8th to 6th place in order to defend his 3rd place from last year. (A current deficit of 4.1 points, but that will vary after the completion of Elimination 7 when the second discard comes into play). We will revisit the rankings when that happens as there are too many connotations to outline.
However, Williams’ quest to re-establish himself in the top 6 has been made harder after Arnon Dagan (RRD / NeilPryde) - who is currently ranked 6th - snatched a dramatic late victory in Elimination 6, and with the second discard coming into play Dagan could potentially dispatch an 18.5, which would make him extremely difficult to overhaul.
In the final of Elimination 6 it looked as though Tristan Algret (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / Chopper Fins) was on course to win his first elimination ever on the world tour after the 23-year-old burst into the lead and built a commanding advantage. However, with the victory seemingly at his mercy Algret wobbled through an extremely dodgy last gybe - only just staying on his board - which opened up the door for Arnon Dagan, who didn’t need a second invite to come through and snatch a dramatic late victory just before the finish line as things instantly turned from a dream into a nightmare for Algret, who will no doubt be reliving that moment over and over again tonight. His day will come one day soon though and 2nd place was still his best result of the week, which sees him jump from 20th to 14th.
Marco Lang looked extremely quick again today and his blistering pace earned him an excellent 4th place finish and with Sebastian Koerdel (Starboard / GA Sails) being disqualified from the winners’ final for a premature start the Austrian leapfrogs his friend into 4th, while the German falls one place to 5th, but just one place separates them heading into the final day.
Elsewhere, Cyril Moussilmani (99NoveNove / Severne) climbs one spot to 7th after a 6th place finish, while Pascal Toselli (99NoveNove / LoftSails / Chopper Fins) falls 3 places to 9th after making only his second real mistake of the week after exiting Elimination 6 in the quarterfinals. The Frenchman could still fly back up the rankings if he’s able to take advantage of the second discard as he looks to remain on course for overall top 10. Meanwhile, fellow Frenchman Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA Sails) completes occupies 10th, but only holds a half point advantage over Antoine Questel (Starboard / S2Maui) so his place is anything but assured.
In the morning two full fleet foil races were completed before switching to slalom, which saw Antoine Albeau and Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins) claim one victory apiece - although the Argentine could have won both races. However, he set his lay line wrong in the closing stages of the first race to allow Albeau to swoop in and steal the victory, while Costa Hoevel then took advantage of Julien Quentel’s (Patrik / Avanti) misfortune in the second race of the day - catching the rope with his foil - to snatch the victory and remain firmly in control at the top of the rankings.
The forecast for tomorrow predicts less offshore winds than today, although still not the normal southeasterly direction, but it should allow for more racing on the final day to conclude what has been a superb event so far. The skippers’ meeting has been called for 9:30am - with the action commencing from 10am (GMT+11) onwards.
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Current Ranking 2017 Airwaves Noumea Dream Cup - Women’s Slalom
*After 8 Eliminations
1st Delphine Cousin Questel (Starboard / S2Maui)
2nd Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins)
3rd Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails)
4th Lena Erdil (Starboard / Point-7 / AL360)
5th Lilou Granier
Current Ranking 2017 Airwaves Noumea Dream Cup - Men’s Slalom
*After 6 Eliminations
1st Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde)
2nd Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Point-7 / Shamal Sunglasses)
3rd Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails / Chopper Fins)
4th Marco Lang (Fanatic / NorthSails)
5th Sebastian Koerdel (Starboard / GA Sails)
6th Arnon Dagan (RRD / NeilPryde)
7th Cyril Moussilmani (99NoveNove / Severne)
8th Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic / Shamal Sunglasses)
9th Pascal Toselli (99NoveNove / LoftSails / Chopper Fins)
10th Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA Sails)
Current Ranking 2017 Airwaves Noumea Dream Cup - Men’s Foil Exhibition
*After 6 Eliminations
1st Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins)
2nd Nicolas Goyard (RRD / Point-7 / Mystic)
3rd Maciek Rutkowski (Tabou / GA Sails)
4th William Huppert (Fanatic / NorthSails)
5th Thomas Goyard (Fanatic / NorthSails)
6th Alexandre Cousin (Patrik / GA Sails)
7th Benjamin Tillier
8th Antoine Questel (Starboard / S2Maui)
9th Julien Quentel (Patrik / Avanti)
10th Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA Sails)