Catalunya PWA World Cup
The 4th Day of the 2018 Catalunya PWA World Cup saw the slalom fleet in action for the first time, while the Final of Foil Elimination 7 was also completed earlier in the day. The wind remained light throughout - generally around 8-13 knots - which saw the sailors on their biggest equipment. At the close of play only the top 16 sailors remain standing, but unfortunately, the wind dropped before the finals could be completed.
With the wind being right on the limit for slalom, the race to be in the top 4 at the first mark was crucial in determining whether you had a successful day or a frustrating one with few passing opportunities on offer after the first buoy.
In fact, when things did change after the first it was generally down to an unforced error, although on the odd occasion someone proved to be just in touch enough to force a rival into a forced error. Ben van der Steen (I-99 / Gun Sails) for example forced fellow country Casper Bouman (Starboard / NeilPryde) into a gybing error at the last in Heat 7 to advance into the quarterfinals.
Top Seed Woes
For the first time this season not only one, but all three of the current top 3 - Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Severne / Shamal Sunglasses), Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) and Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails / Chopper Fins) missed out on the Winners’ Final as all 3 were eliminated in the semifinals.
Albeau and Mortefon were in the same heat - Heat 13 - and Albeau saw his chances all but ended before the start after arriving 10 seconds late to the start line - leaving himself a mountain that proved too tough to climb, while Mortefon knew he needed to do something drastic when in 5th entering the third mark and trying to chase Julien Quentel (Patrik / Avanti), but in pushing his gybe so hard he went down. Meanwhile, Iachino missed out on the final after finishing 6th in Heat 14.
In the opening event in Japan, 6 out of last year’s top 10 qualified for the Winners’ Final as the top seeds dominated, however, in the opening elimination in Costa Brava just 2 of last year’s top 10 have navigated their way into Heat 16 - Pascal Toselli (JP / Loftsails) and Julien Quentel (Patrik / Avanti) - while only 3 of the current top 10 have qualified for the final - Toselli, Vonk and Tristan Algret (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins)
Last Man Standing
That means that Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / NorthSails) is the only man left standing this season to have qualified for every Winners’ Final this year. However, the flying Dutchman maintained that record by a matter of inches today after pipping Amado Vrieswijk (JP / Severne) to the last qualifying place from Heat 14 in a photo finish. A decision that Vrieswijk didn’t agree with.
Seizing The Opportunity
With the big top 3 missing from the final, several sailors have taken their chance to book their place in their first Winners’ Final of the season - firstly Finian Maynard (I-99), who won all 3 of his heats en-route to the final, 2014 vice-world champion - Cyril Moussilmani (RRD / Severne), Julien Quentel (Patrik / Avanti) and Malte Reuscher (Fanatic / NorthSails), who won both his quarterfinal and semifinal to make his first Winners’ Final since Denmark last year.
Although the final was not completed, one attempt was made to run it and in the early stages of the race, it looked as though Maynard was set to roll back the years, in his final season on the world tour, as he built a healthy lead as they entered the first mark. However, unfortunately, for Maynard, there was no wind after the opening gybe, something he said he could see, and the final had to be cancelled. Maynard still seemed upbeat though after a top day and he will now look to kick off tomorrow in the exact same fashion.
Maynard last won an event in 2012, but it would be a fitting end to a long and successful career if he could win another race, or event, and today’s performance showed that he still has the talent to mix it with the best in the business.
Meanwhile, Mateus Isaac (JP / NeilPryde), who recorded his best slalom result yet in South Korea - 4th - looked to be in same rich of form as the Brazilian safely progressed into Heat 16 with a solid display of sailing.
Elsewhere, Marco Lang (Fanatic / NorthSails) booked his place in the top 16 for the first time this season - in what has been an illness hit year thus far and the Austrian is reportedly still not 100% fit, but even so making the finals will give him a confidence boost.
Maciek Rutkowski (I-99 / Challenger Sails) received a warning for dangerous sailing in Heat 12 after the Pole appeared to attempt gybe down the inside of Nicolas Warembourg (JP / NeilPryde) when there was no space. Unfortunately, Arnon Dagan (RRD / NeilPryde) then got caught up in the melee, which resulted in the Israeli receiving Warembourg’s mast to the head in an incident that Dagan said he was lucky to escape from conscious. Dagan managed to recover, but missed out on the semifinals after finishing 5th with Vrieswijk overtaking him at the last.
Nicolas Goyard (Tabou / GA Sails) has moved into the slenderest of leads in the foiling after a 7th place finish in Elimination 7, while long-time event leader Amado Vrieswijk (JP / Severne) had to settle for 14th after sails teammate - Matteo Iachino - collided with the Bonairean just before the first mark, which all but ended Vrieswijk's chances in the final. The two men instantly discard both of those results, but Goyard moves into the lead on countback. Both sailors remain on 10.4 points so the event title race is still poised on a knife edge with whoever performing better in any further races retaking the lead.
Meanwhile, Sebastian Kördel (Starboard / GA Sails) remains in 3rd place for now, but the German has Julien Bontemps (JP / NeilPryde) breathing firmly down his neck after the Frenchman earned his first bullet on the world tour, which he celebrated in style. Bontemps had a couple of slightly disappointing days after an excellent start here but is now right back in contention for the podium - trailing Kördel by just 1.4 points - after rising from 6th to 4th at the end of day 4.
Antoine Questel (Starboard / S2Maui) and Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) both fall one spot from the overnight rankings to 5th and 6th respectively, while Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins) remains in 7th.
Steve Allen (Patrik / Severne), who broke into the top 10 yesterday continued his recent good form to climb a further two places today into 8th after finishing 3rd in Elimination 7, while Sebastian Kornum continued his recovery with his best result of the event so far - 2nd. Incidentally, 3rd was also Allen’s best result.
Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Severne / Shamal Sunglasses) completes the top 10 but drops two places from yesterday and now only has a 1 point cushion over Maciek Rutkowski (I-99 / Challenger Sails).
Costa Brava looks set to maintain it’s 100% wind record heading into the penultimate day as tomorrow offers the best forecast on paper yet, which could provide a full day of slalom with the forecast predicting 13-23 knot winds from the southwest all day. The skippers’ meeting has been called 10am with the action commencing from 10:30am (GMT+2) onwards.
You can stay up to date with all the latest developments from Costa Brava — including elimination ladders, entry list, images and live ticker simply click HERE and scroll to the bottom of the page.
Current Ranking 2018 Catalunya PWA World Cup - Men’s Foil
*After Seven Eliminations
1st Nicolas Goyard (FRA - Tabou / GA Sails)
2nd Amado Vrieswijk (NB - JP / Severne)
3rd Sebastian Kördel (GER - Starboard / GA Sails)
4th Julien Bontemps (FRA - JP / NeilPryde)
5th Antoine Questel (Starboard / S2Maui)
6th Antoine Albeau (FRA - RRD / NeilPryde)
7th Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (ARG - Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins)
8th Steve Allen (AUS - Patrik / Severne)
9th Sebastian Kornum (DEN - JP / NeilPryde)
10th Matteo Iachino (ITA - Starboard / Severne / Shamal Sunglasses)