Fly! ANA Yokosuka PWA World Cup
Sunny skies and light winds greeted competitors on the opening day of the 2019 Fly! ANA Yokosuka PWA World Cup and while it conditions weren’t quite suitable to compete the majority of the Men’s & Women’s Foil fleets did make it out on to the water during the afternoon. In total 57 men and 12 women have registered for the Foil contest, while there is a full men’s fleet for the Slalom and 22 women.
In between a bit of testing we were able to catchup with defending event and Slalom World Champions - Delphine Cousin Questel (Starboard / S2Maui / Starboard Foils) and Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde):
Delphine Cousin Questel won the event here in 2018 and has now won the last 5 world tour events: “I’m feeling great coming in into Japan after making a bright start in Marignane. We only completed one race there, so it was difficult to really see where the other girls are at for this year.
The 2019 Fly! ANA Yokosuka PWA World Cup is also the first event where the Women’s fleet will also compete in Foiling and with regard to how she’s feeling about Foiling the 27-year-old said: “I think it might be difficult to have my focus on foiling as well as slalom, but my main focus definitely remains more on the slalom as I’d really love to win a 4th world title.
I have been foiling for the last two or three years now and over the winter I had some good training sessions, but unfortunately most of us received our new foil equipment pretty late, so it’s difficult to feel 100% in tune with the new stuff. I’m pretty curious to see the result in the foiling and to sail in my first foil race.”
When asked about what she’s expecting from the foiling, Cousin Questel said: “I’m not too sure because for example there is the Alabau sisters - Marina & Blanca - who are purely foiling, so its going to be interesting to see. I’m think my slalom competence and experience can help me while foiling, so let’s just see.”
Defending event champion Antoine Albeau: “It feels good to be back. It’s always a pleasure to come back to Japan because the hospitality of the people is amazing. When I arrived in the airport I was alone, but then I had 9 people come and help me so I didn’t even have to carry one bag, which is just perfect!
The weather forecast wasn’t looking so good to begin with, but now it looks a bit more promising to be able to compete in both Foil & Slalom. I think we will be able to complete a lot of foiling and maybe 2 or 3 rounds of slalom - of course the best would to be able to complete 4 slalom, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
I arrived two days before the event and sailed both days in foil and slalom and it was good. I’m feeling pretty confident with my gear so I just don’t want to make any mistakes or go over early.”
During the close season Albeau changed board sponsor and made a seamless transition by securing a second place in Marignane - when asked about whether he had any worries before the start of the year the 25-time world champion added: “I knew I had some speed, but during the whole winter I was only sailing with Mateus [Isaac] and then he went to Tenerife, so he had more reference about how quick he was going compared to me… I had no reference really, but it turned out well. It’s also not just a case of being the fastest guy to win a final, you need to be the best overall… best start, gybe well etc.
Second was a good start and I feel confident. I’m now interested to see how I fair in really light wind slalom with 9.4m or something. I think between Japan and Korea we will have a lot of action.”
When asked about Foiling Albeau went on to say: “I think it’s going to be difficult because we are going to race in lighter and lighter winds and that makes it a problem for me to get planing. As soon as I’m planing I’m fine, but once I need to tack and gybe it becomes extremely difficult for me as I’m one of the heaviest guys at 99kg. I know I can go fast, but on a small course it’s going to be harder for me to do well. I’ll just try to do my best.”
The forecast for Saturday looks quite similar to today, but hopefully the local thermal will be slightly stronger tomorrow and allow the racing to begin. The sailors will meet again at 10am tomorrow morning for the skippers’ meeting with a first possible start at 11am.
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