Ulsan PWA World Cup
After a slow start to the week with rain and light winds keeping the contest on hold the 2019 Ulsan PWA World Cup gradually gathered pace, leading to a frantic final day of racing as Jinha Beach produced some of the best racing conditions of the year, which allowed 3 Men’s and 4 Women’s Slalom Eliminations to be completed, while 5 Women’s Foil Eliminations were also finished over the course of the last 6 days in South Korea to end the Asian leg of the tour on a positive note.
Delphine Cousin Questel (Starboard / S2Maui / Starboard Foil) walks away from the Asian leg of the tour with a perfect record after the 27-year-old successfully claimed victory in South Korea, having already won in Japan earlier in the month. Cousin Questel led the Foil from start to finish in Ulsan and finished the event with 3 bullets from a possible 5 while finishing second and third in the other two eliminations. Cousin Questel continues to set the pace and deservedly walks away from Asia with a commanding lead at the top of the overall rankings.
Marina Alabau (Starboard / Severne /Starboard Foil) and Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone / LOKEFOIL) proved to be Cousin Questel’s closest rivals and they finished tied on 8.7 points, but it is Alabau M. who could’ve really challenged Cousin Questel, but for a couple of unfortunate pieces of luck. The 2012 Olympic Champion crashed while trying to adjust her harness line while leading one race and hit a clump of seaweed when leading in another, so could’ve been much closer.
Mortefon, meanwhile, claimed her first foil bullet and will be happy to have secured two foil podium in the two opening events.
Elsewhere, Blanca Alabau (Starboard / Severne /Starboard Foil) and Helle Oppedal (Fanatic / Duotone) complete the top 5 and the aforementioned women have clearly established themselves as the top seeds.
Things really couldn’t be going any better for Delphine Cousin Questel at the moment as not only did she complete a Foil clean sweep in Asia, she also completed the double in Slalom as well, which means the 3-time world champion has now won the last 9 racing events (7 Slalom & 2 Foil) in a record which stretches back to November 2017. In South Korea though, Cousin Questel didn’t have things all her own way and had to produce her best performances at the death as the 27-year-old won the last two races to deny Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone).
Delphine Cousin Questel talking after winning back-to-back events in both Foil and Slalom: "I'm super happy to have won the slalom. It wasn't easy waiting and changing between slalom and foil. It was really close with Marion [Mortefon] and it was a really exciting week of racing. Now I'm just happy with how it all worked out. It's just amazing!"
Mortefon staked her claim for the event title with a highly impressive victory in the second elimination to briefly take the lead and despite pushing Cousin Questel all the way in the last two eliminations she couldn’t quite secure the top place on the podium this time around. However, Mortefon has made a brilliant start to the season and after the opening 3 events finds herself in a solid second position.
Twenty-two-year-old Maêlle Guilbaud (Patrik / Loftsails) produce a late charge in South Korea to secure the final place on the podium. Guilbaud looked out of the running having missed out on the winners’ final in the second race, but bounced back strongly with a 3rd and 4th place to snatch the last place on the podium away from her good friend Lilou Granier (Starboard / Phantom Sails), who finished 4th overall. Guilbaud has now recorded back-to-back podiums in South Korea having also finished 3rd in 2018.
Lena Erdil’s (Starboard / Point-7 / AL360 / Chopper Fins) couldn’t have dreamt for a better start in Jinha after taking the early event lead with her first bullet since returning from injury in the opening race of the week. However, possibly lacking a bit of fitness and racing sharpness, Erdil saw her challenge for the event title capitulate on the final day and eventually finished 5th. Erdil should take plenty of positives from winning her first race so quickly after a serious injury and she’ll be even more of a threat going forward.
Elsewhere, Mio Anayama (Starboard / S2Maui), recovered brilliantly after missing out on the opening winners’ final by qualifying for the top 8 in the remaining 3 eliminations and walks away from South Korea with a 6th place having recorded a 3rd and two 5ths.
Matteo Iachino’s (Starboard / Severne / Shamal Sunglasses) season didn’t get off to the start he would’ve wanted in Marignane, but the 2016 world champion bounced back like a true champion in South Korea to claim his first event victory of the season. The Italian was the only sailor in the entire fleet to qualify for every winners’ final and never finished outside of the top 5 and deservedly walks away with the top spot on the podium. Iachino is now ranked 10th overall.
Matteo Iachino returns to the top of the podium: "Finally! It's been a long couple of weeks, but it feels great. I tried to be in every final here and that is not easy. I'm just gonna take it event by event now. The results are all over the place and there's a lot of guys coming up, so let's just see."
Having qualified for so many winners’ finals over the last couple of seasons, Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / Duotone) finally tasted victory for the first time with a brilliant performance in the opening race and the Flying Dutchman briefly led the event. However, he saw his hopes of securing a first event victory dashed in the very next race after being eliminated in the semifinals, but quickly put that disappointment behind him to finish 6th in the third and final elimination to earn his second podium on the world tour - 2nd. Vonk is now tied on 19,600 points with Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde) at the top of the overall rankings, but it is AA who leads the world title race on countback.
Tristan Algret (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins) has had to wait quite a while for his first podium on the world tour. The 25-year-old came Agonisingly close in Alacati in 2015 but just missed out after going over early in the last elimination. However, after a long wait Algret finally has his hands on a coveted top 3 finish at the end of the event here in South Korea. Algret’s first podium sees him climb into 6th in the overall ranking.
Having been unlucky with seaweed in the opening elimination, which led to a quarterfinal exit, Antoine Albeau almost completed a miraculous comeback for a place on the podium in Ulsan. The reigning world champion bounced back with a 3rd place in Elimination 2, before clinching his first bullet of the year in the final race of the week. However, it wasn’t quite enough with the 25-time world champion missing out on 3rd place by just 0.2 of a point to Algret. Fourth place here is still enough to send AA into the title race lead for the first time this season heading into Fuerteventura.
Mateus Isaac (JP / NeilPryde) was one of the most consistent performers over the last 6 days with the Brazilian never finishing outside the top 16. Isaac also secured a super second place finish in Elimination 2 and walks away from Ulsan with a 5th place while rising to 4th in the overalls.
Elsewhere, Antoine Questel (I-99 / S2Maui) claimed his first top 10 finish of the season - 6th - while teammates Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Shamal Sunglasses) and Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA Sails) both bounced back from disappointing results in France by finishing 7th and 8th respectively.
Ethan Westera (Tabou / GA Sails) will be delighted to have earned his first top 10 result on the PWA World Tour - 9th. The former Youth World Champion was able to win two b-finals in South Korea and things could’ve been even better for the 21-year-old had he not made a mistake on the final reach in the quarterfinals of Elimination 3, which allowed Basile Jacquin (I-99 / Point-7) to pip him to the final spot in the top 16. However, that was the only blemish in an otherwise fantastic performance and Westera rises to an all time high - 5th - in the overall world tour rankings.
Enrico Marotti (JP / NeilPryde) completed the top 10 in South Korea ahead of Pascal Toselli (JP / Loftsails / Chopper Fins) in 11th, while Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins) had to settle for 12th place here. The previous world tour leader suffered two quarterfinal exits in the opening two races and only managed to salvage a top 12 finish by finishing 3rd in the last elimination. Mortefon drops from 1st to 9th in the overall rankings.
Amado Vrieswijk (JP / Severne) is developing the reputation as the comeback kid on the world tour at the moment, with the Bonairean continually fighting his way back from the dead. Vrieswijk recorded two top 16 results - 11th and 12th - and if he can fine tune his starting a little he could realistically threaten the top 10 and beyond going forwards.
Elsewhere, Taty Frans (FMX Racing / Point-7) paid the ultimate price in the second elimination, which saw the Bonairean disqualified for dangerous sailing in an incident with Malte Reuscher (Tabou / GA Sails) when blinded by the sun while attempting to round the 3rd mark. Frans had finished second in the opening elimination and could’ve easily let his head drop after that DSQ, but deserves great credit for battling on to eventually qualify for his second winners’ final in 3 races to claim 5th in the third and final race. Frans endured a tough 2018 season but looks like he could be recapturing the kind of form which saw him ranked as high as 6th overall in 2016.
Bruno Martini (I-99 / Challenger Sails) followed in the footsteps of Jordy Vonk as the Italian earned his first ever bullet on the world tour in Elimination 2 with a highly impressive performance. The Italian is ranked 11th overall after Ulsan.
South Korea produced a real mixed bag of results this week, but what is evident is that the next generation are closing in on their more experienced peers and that the level on the world tour may have just reached an even higher high than ever before as the racing level continues to go through the roof.
Congratulations to all the winners’ and thanks to the local organisers and volunteers for all of their hard work and help over the last 6 days.
Where’s Next on the PWA World Tour?
There’s no rest for the wicked and the world’s best Foilers will now race back from Asia to Europe just in time to compete at the 2019 Catalunya PWA World Cup, which takes place from 28th May until 2nd June - with Costa Brava hosting the second stop on the Men’s Foil PWA World Tour.
For a full recap from South Korea — including the live stream, elimination ladders, entry list, images and live ticker simply click HERE and scroll to the bottom of the page.
Overall Result 2019 Ulsan PWA World Cup - Women's Foil
1st Delphine Cousin Questel ( FRA - Starboard / S2Maui / Starboard Foil)
2nd Marina Alabau (ESP - Starboard / Severne / Starboard Foil)
3rd Marion Mortefon (FRA - Fanatic / Duotone / LOKEFOIL)
4th Blanca Alabau (ESP - Starboard / Severne / Starboard Foil)
5th Helle Oppedal (NOR - Fanatic / Duotone)
Overall Result 2019 Ulsan PWA World Cup - Women's Slalom
1st Delphine Cousin Questel ( FRA - Starboard / S2Maui)
2nd Marion Mortefon (FRA - Fanatic / Duotone)
3rd Maëlle Guilbaud (FRA - Patrik / Loftsails)
4th Lilou Granier (NC - Starboard / Phantom Sails)
5th Lena Erdil (TUR - Starboard / Point-7 / AL360 / Chopper Fins)
Overall Result 2019 Ulsan PWA World Cup - Men's Slalom
1st Matteo Iachino (ITA - Starboard / Severne / Shamal Sunglasses)
2nd Jordy Vonk (NED - Fanatic / Duotone)
3rd Tristan Algret (GPE - Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins)
4th Antoine Albeau (FRA - JP / NeilPryde)
5th Mateus Isaac (BRA - JP / NeilPryde)
6th Antoine Questel (FRA - I-99 / S2Maui)
7th Ross Williams (GBR - Tabou / GA Sails / Shamal Sunglasses)
8th Cedric Bordes (FRA - Tabou / GA Sails)
9th Ethan Westera (ARU - Tabou / GA Sails)
10th Enrico Marotti (CRO - JP / NeilPryde)