Marignane PWA World Cup
With a new addition to the calendar for 2019 the PWA Slalom World Tour will return to the French Mediterranean for the first time in just over two decades between 17th-22nd April for the Marignane PWA World Cup, which will see the world’s fastest sailors battling it out for those crucial early season points.
Marignane itself is located in between Marseille - the second largest city in France - and Aix-en-Provence, a place well-known for its colourful markets and delicious French delicacies. The region is renowned not only in the windsurfing world, but also the sailing world with Marseille hosting the 2024 Olympic Games nautical disciplines. Marignane is a windy wonderland and at this time of the year there can be a huge variety of conditions from 9.0m all the way down to 5.5m nuclear winds combined with chop to test even the bests mettle, so the men and women are going to have to be ready for whatever Marignane decides to throw at them!
Ones To Watch
3-time world champion - Delphine Cousin Questel (Starboard / S2Maui) - will start the season as the clear favourite for the opening event of the 2019 season. During 2018 the 27-year-old completed a clean sweep of event victories - winning in Japan, South Korea & Portugal - to claim a thoroughly deserved 3rd world title. Cousin Questel has now won the last 4 world tour events and you wouldn’t bet against her extending that winning run. The reigning world champion is familiar with the conditions in Marignane and openly admits that she loves it when its extremely windy, choppy and technical, and those are exactly the kind of conditions we could well see in Marignane.
Having suffered a lisfranc fracture last summer, and then experiencing a few setbacks with her recovery, it looked as though the opening event of the year would come a little too soon for vice-world champion - Lena Erdil (Starboard / Point-7 / AL360 / Chopper Fins), however, the Turk is set to dig deep and fast forward her return to appear in France. How hard she’ll be able to push and whether she’ll be a genuine contender for the podium, as the 30-year-old usually is, remains to be seen.
The next contender will be - Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone) - who has finished 3rd overall for the last two seasons and will be hoping to make home advantage count. Also in contention will be 2017 Youth World Champion - Maëlle Guilbaud (Patrik / Loftsails) - who finished 4th overall in 2018 and Esther de Geus - 5th overall in 2018.
The young and talented - Lilou Granier (Starboard / Severne) - should also be a threat. The 18-year-old finished 13th overall last year, but missed one event in the middle of the season due to her studies which heavily affected her overall ranking . Granier recorded a 4th in Japan followed by a 6th in Portugal and with another winter of training under her belt she could be even more of a threat.
Elsewhere, keep an eye out for the likes of Jenna Gibson (Fanatic / Duotone), who won one elimination in South Korea last season and finished 6th overall in 2018 and former Youth World Champion - Fulya Ünlü (Starboard / Point-7), who has plenty of potential to challenge for the podium if everything clicks into place.
Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde) will start the season as the narrow favourite having claimed an incredible 25th world title in 2018 season. However, there will not be much separating AA from vice-world champion - Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Severne / Shamal Sunglasses) - who led the title race for much of the last - and Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins) - who is not only familiar with spot in Marginane, but also returned to winning ways for the first time since 2016 by winning the final event of the year in Sylt. As stats show the ‘Big Top 3’ have dominated Slalom in recent years:
- 2018 - won 5 out of 6 events between them
- 2017 - Won 4 out of 6 events between them
- 2016 - Won 5 out of 5 events between them
- 2015 - Won 6 out of 6 events between them
So, since 2015 Albeau, Iachino & Mortefon have won 20 out of the last 23 world tour events or 86.9% between them, which makes them extremely difficult to oppose.
However, there will be plenty of rivals waiting in the wings to take their shot at the top 3 and hopefully the top spot on the podium at the opening event of the year as well.
Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / Duotone) will be hoping to continue the progress he made in 2018, which saw the flying Dutchman not only break into the overall top 10 for the first time, but also the top 4. Vonk has just the one podium finish to date - Japan 2017 - but with another winter of training under his belt he could be even better equipped to attack the top 3.
In the past 4 years - Julien Quentel (Patrik / Gun Sails) - is one of just 3 other sailors aside from Albeau, Iachino & Mortefon to have won an event on the world tour - Japan 2017 - and the 32-year-old undoubtedly has the talent to challenge for top honours. Quentel finished 5th overall in 2018 - tied on points with Vonk - and if his starting is a little bit sharper at the business end of eliminations he could well be a genuine threat for the title.
Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Shamal Sunglasses) has been in and around the top 3 for the last 3 or 4 seasons - securing numerous podiums during that time. Last year the Brit may have failed to earn a podium and endured a tough middle of the season, but towards the end of the season the Brit looked as though he was back in tune with his gear and made a strong finish to the season with a 5th and 4th in Fuerte and Sylt. If Williams can pick up where he left off then he certainly has the skillset to throw together a challenger for the title.
Pascal Toselli (JP / Loftsails / Chopper Fins) was in the hunt for the title during the early part of last season - particularly after a 2nd place in Costa Brava - however, the Frenchman saw his challenge slip away in the final two events and eventually finished 7th overall. If Toselli can recapture the form that he showed in the early part of last season - and sustain it - he too is someone who could feature.
2014 vice-world champion - Cyril Moussilmani (RRD / RRD Sails) - returned to the overall top 10 for the first time since 2015 last year - securing 8th place. The Frenchman is now a fully fledged RRD sailor having left Severne Sails after several seasons together and if he can pick up where he left off at the end of last year - 4th in Sylt - Moussilmani could potentially be in the hunt for the title again after a few quiet years.
Mateus Isaac (JP / NeilPryde) and Tristan Algret (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins) completed the overall top 10 in 2018 and will be challenging for the top 10 again, but they may both made need another season or two to challenge at the very top.
Besides Julien Quentel - Marco Lang (Fanatic / Duotone) & Finian Maynard (FMX-Racing) are the two other names to have stood at the top of the podium since 2015. Lang won both eliminations at the 2017 Sylt PWA Super Grand Slam and finished 7th overall, but was then plagued with a mystery virus last year, which eventually forced his early retirement from the 2018 calendar in Fuerteventura. Now, after months of recovery and rehabilitation it seems Lang is ready to return. The question is can he do so with a bang?
Maynard, meanwhile, won the 2018 Costa Brava PWA World Cup and was supposed retire last year, but has since started his own board brand - FMX Racing - and will be hoping that he and Maciek Rutkowski (FMX Racing / Challenger Sails) can give his new brand a bright start.
Maynard is not the only sailor to have started his own board brand over the winter with Arnon Dagan (Future Fly / NeilPryde) also starting a new venture with Future Fly. The Israeli and Taty Frans (Future Fly / Point-7) will head up the brand to start the season. Dagan will be aiming to reclaim his place in the overall top 10 having finished 16th in 2018. Meanwhile, Frans will be hoping he can recapture the form which saw him finish 6th in 2016.
Elsewhere, keep an eye on the youthful talents of Basile Jacquin (I-99 / Point-7), who earned his first top 10 finish in Sylt last year, and Ethan Westera (Tabou / GA Sails), who continues his comeback after suffering a serious injury in 2017.
There are plenty of other names who could feature in the battle for the top 10 too such as Ben van der Steen (Goya Windsurfing / Gun Sails), Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA Sails), Antoine Questel (Starboard / S2Maui), Andrea Cucchi (Starboard / Point-7) and Vincent Langer (Fanatic/ Duotone) to just name a few.
The opening day of the contest currently looks like the wind will remain light, but both Thursday and Friday both hold plenty of potential for the opening races on the 2019 calendar to be complete. Make sure you stay tuned to www.pwaworldtour.com between 17th-22nd April to follow everything from the Marignane PWA World Cup live.
To stay up to date with all the latest developments from Marignane — including the live stream, elimination ladders, entry list, images, and live ticker simply click HERE and scroll to the bottom of the page.
Recap Overall Rankings 2018 PWA World Tour - Women’s Slalom
1st Delphine Cousin Questel (FRA - Starboard / S2Maui)
2nd Lena Erdil (TUR - Starboard / Point-7 / AL360 / Chopper Fins)
3rd Marion Mortefon (FRA - Fanatic / Duotone)
4th Maëlle Guilbaud (FRA - Patrik / Loftsails)
5th Esther de Geus (NED - Fanatic / Duotone)
Recap Overall Rankings 2018 PWA World Tour - Men’s Slalom
1st Antoine Albeau (FRA - JP / NeilPryde)
2nd Matteo Iachino (ITA - Starboard / Severne / Shamal Sunglasses)
3rd Pierre Mortefon (FRA - Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins)
4th Jordy Vonk (NED - Fanatic / Duotone)
5th Julien Quentel (SXM - Patrik / Gun Sails)
6th Ross Williams (ENG - Tabou / GA Sails / Shamal Sunglasses)
7th Pascal Toselli (FRA - JP / Loftsails / Chopper Fins)
8th Cyril Moussilmani (FRA - RRD / RRD Sails)
9th Mateus Isaac (BRA - JP / NeilPryde)